DeSantis Picks Up Critical Evangelical Endorsement

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just got another huge endorsement in the state of Iowa, this time from the evangelical leader of one of the state’s leading social conservative organizations.
On Tuesday, The Family Leader organization’s president and CEO, Bob Vander Plaats, said he was personally endorsing DeSantis for the Republican nomination for president. He made that announcement while appearing on the “Special Report” program on Fox News with Bret Baier.

As Vander Plaats commented:

“We need to find somebody who can win in 2024.”

The very influential leader said that the midterm elections in 2022 – where a “red wave” was anticipated but never came to fruition – should serve as a big eye-opener for Republican voters everywhere. During that election cycle, when many Republicans around the country fell flat, DeSantis won a landslide re-election victory in Florida.

Vander Plaats said that DeSantis was “bold and courageous.”

In anticipation that the endorsement was going to be handed down, DeSantis said to reporters during a campaign stop he was making in New Hampshire:

“We’re hopeful that we’re able to secure that endorsement.”

DeSantis has been winning endorsements in Iowa, a state that holds the first contest on the 2024 GOP primary schedule. In addition to Vander Plaats’ endorsement, the Florida governor has also received the public backing of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

Last Friday, DeSantis appeared alongside Vander Plaats and other GOP presidential candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley at a presidential forum hosted by Family Leader in Des Moines.
DeSantis commented on that event when he said:

“I think that if you saw that Family Leader forum, clearly his folks there gravitated to me. I don’t think there’s any question about that. We have a good relationship.”

Vander Plaats said during his interview with Fox News that DeSantis was basically correct, that after the Family Forum, “he [DeSantis] closed the sale on me.”

As he said of DeSantis:

“He was very clear about, we need a president who can serve two terms, not one. We don’t need a president that’s going to be a lame duck on day one.”

Despite this endorsement from Vander Plaats and the one before it from Reynolds, DeSantis is still far behind former President Donald Trump in GOP primary polls.

Trump hasn’t engendered himself to the leaders of the Republican Party in Iowa, though, as he skipped out on another Family Leader presidential forum that was hosted in July.

Vander Plaats also hasn’t had a great relationship with Trump for a while now. In fact, he’s said repeatedly that a new conservative leader is needed in Washington, and that Trump’s “absence (in Iowa) communicates a lot to our base.”

As he told Fox news:

“There’s definitely a shot that the former president can be beat here.”

DeSantis has made a huge push to win in the early primary states – particularly in Iowa. His hope is that if he’s able to capture the primary in Iowa and perhaps even New Hampshire, he could eventually change the momentum in his favor for the remaining states.