The Iowa Evangelical Betting Against Trump - Living Strong Television Network
The Iowa Evangelical Betting Against Trump

Bob Vander Plaats wants Christian voters to move on from Trump. Are they still listening?

In the lead-up to the first caucus in the presidential race, GOP hopefuls barnstorm Iowa, turning up at town halls, cornfields, schools, the state fair, and Bob Vander Plaats’s house.

He and wife Darla have welcomed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, and entrepreneur and political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy. DeSantis, Ramaswamy, and Sen. Tim Scott (who has since suspended his presidential campaign) also visited his church, Soteria Des Moines, a Baptist congregation in the state’s capital.

Vander Plaats is head of The Family Leader, an Iowa-based conservative Christian nonprofit with ties to Focus on the Family. He has built up a winning streak picking out the past three GOP caucus winners in his state—Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum in 2012, and Ted Cruz in 2016—and holds one of the most-coveted Republican endorsements.

“Bob Vander Plaats is a kingmaker,” said Jim Tillotson, president of Faith Baptist Bible College in nearby Ankeny. “I would think his endorsement carries a lot of weight.”

Vander Plaats, though, tends to downplay his influence. “It’s not my endorsement,” the 60-year-old told Christianity Today. “It’s more that I’ve had a front-row seat to this entire process.”

In the lead-up to the caucuses, when he wasn’t brushing shoulders with candidates or hosting them during The Family Leader events, Vander Plaats was working from a nondescript office park in Urbandale, Iowa, where the ministry is headquartered.

His office is crowded with traces of his Iowa roots: a card with “I heart basketball” recalls his days on Northwestern College’s Red Raiders team, and a flip calendar …

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