Although the Iowa caucuses are six weeks away, The Family Leader, an instrumental pro-family group in Iowa, has narrowed its possible endorsement list by eliminating three of the seven Republican candidates. They are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Atlanta businessman Herman Cain and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
The evangelical vote makes up approximately 37 percent of probable Iowa caucus voters so the impact of The Family Leader’s endorsement could sway a number of votes to the endorsed candidate. Just how much the group’s endorsement will influence the caucus will probably not be known until the votes are tallied. But with a larger percent of voters still undecided, it could make or break a candidate’s future.
“If we are effective or if we can effectively coalesce even 30 percent of support around a candidate it would be huge but we first have to get there ourselves and we’re not there yet,” Bob Vander Plaats, the group’s CEO, told The Des Moines Register.
Vander Plaats and his organization led the charge last year to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who legalized gay marriage.
Those still being considered for endorsement are former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. In a statement released on Tuesday, the group explained the rationale behind their decision.
“Each individual of the seven member voting Board of Directors express many positives of Representative Ron Paul and businessman Herman Cain. The stumbling block for the board regarding Representative Paul dealt primarily with ‘States’ Rights’ as it pertains to the sanctity of human life and God’s design for marriage. Regarding Mr. Cain, the board cited a narrative of questions versus clarity on the key issues of life, marriage, foreign policy, and presidential readiness. The board did not give consideration to Governor Romney.”
The elimination of Romney was not surprising given the Massachusetts governor has not spent much time in Iowa nor has he courted evangelical voters – a fact demonstrated by his absence at last Saturday’s Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines.
Vander Plaats compared the group’s endorsement process to a “three-legged stool.” The three top issues are the personal core values of the candidate, their pro-family vision and their ability to defeat President Obama.
The board gave no definitive timeline in announcing their endorsement but said that it has “committed to be prayerful, diligent, and expeditious in reaching a final decision.”