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Iowa's Bob Vander Plaats Endorses Rick Santorum; The Family Leader Remains Neutral

December 20, 2011|2:47 pm

The Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats gave a personal endorsement to Rick Santorum but said the Iowa conservative organization will not endorse a GOP candidate for the 2012 Republican race.

The Christian organization refrained from picking a name from the large pool of GOP contenders, choosing to instead remain neutral. Its leader, however, bestowed his personal endorsement on former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum as the best social conservative for the race.

Santorum, an outspoken pro-life, pro-traditional marriage candidate, told The Des Moines Register that the personal endorsement is “a lot better than nothing” and a reflection of how his message is resonating with Iowa conservatives.

“There’s a lot of good people out here running, and I’m sure it was a tough decision. I think it shows that we’re the candidate right now that has the momentum, that has the message that’s resonating to the people of Iowa,” he said.

The Family Leader has been very involved in the 2012 Republican nominee race, hosting a Thanksgiving forum and presidential lecture series for the candidates and urging them to sign its marriage pledge.

Yet in the weeks leading up to the announcement, the group was torn over which of the candidates best reflects its values.

Vander Plaats was also reportedly confused about the candidates.

He told The New York Times, “If I was caucusing tonight, and this is completely transparent and honest, my wife and I would have to have a sit-down for about an hour to say who are we supporting … We really don’t know.”

Yet a source told Reuters that Vander Platt considered an endorsement for Newt Gingrich. The former speaker financed Van Plaat’s 2010 effort to overturn the appointments of three Iowa Supreme Court judges, according to the Hill.

However, Gingrich’s marital past of two extramarital affairs and three marriages reportedly gave Vander Plaats and other Family Leader officials pause.

Mitt Romney, a consistent contender in the GOP race, has a shaky record on social conservative issues and chose to skip the Family Leader’s Thanksgiving forum.

Santorum has lobbied hard to be the GOP’s lead social conservative candidate.

He told The Christian Post during the October Values Voter Summit that his campaign is “the conservative credible alternative to a Republican who is, well, certainly less conservative than I think most of the Republican Party is today," referring to Romney who was the front-runner at the time.

But he told The Des Moines Register that he believed The Family Leader would endorse Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Though Perry had the early momentum as an evangelical candidate with strong job creation experience, he has cooled in the national polls after a series of gaffes, memory lapses and mini controversies. He is currently ranked fifth nationally, according to Real Clear Politics.

“Nothing was better than Perry,” Santorum said of The Family Leader’s non-endorsement.

Santorum told The Hill that the campaign has staked its claim on Iowa.

"I have to do well in the first state," Santorum said. "If I don't do well in the first state, the third state doesn't matter."

He has weak support among national Republicans (4 percent). He has stronger support among Iowan conservatives (8 percent support, according to Public Policy Polling).

Vander Plaat’s endorsement’s is likely to give Santorum the much-needed boost he has been looking for.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/iowas-bob-vander-plaats-endorses-rick-santorum-the-family-leader-remains-neutral-65304/