Ted Cruz picks up Bob Vander Plaats endorsement in Iowa

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cruz wins key Iowa evangelical endorsement.

Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday received the endorsement of influential Iowa social conservative Bob Vander Plaats, advancing the Texas senator’s bid to become the top choice of Iowa’s Christian conservatives. “At the end of the day, we truly believe that Ted Cruz is the most consistent and principled conservative who has the ability to not only win Iowa but I believe to win the (Republican) nomination,” he told the Register.”Our goal is to unite conservatives around Ted Cruz,” Vander Plaats said Thursday in the rotunda of the Iowa state capitol. “We believe he’ll be the nominee to take on and defeat Hillary Clinton.” Vander Plaats is seen as “an evangelical kingmaker in Iowa,” as NPR’s Sarah McCammon has reported.Rather than try to puzzle out which polls, if any, are correct and whether Donald Trump’s numbers are “real,” it may be more productive to figure out who makes up the Iowa caucus electorate.

Ted Cruz, the no-compromise conservative purist, is on the verge of securing the Christian conservative bloc, a linchpin that could secure victory in the 2016 Iowa caucuses, GOP insiders say. It’s a triumph for Cruz, a Texas U.S. senator whose stances on abortion, same-sex marriage, illegal immigration, religious liberty and foreign affairs align with the most hardline conservatives in Iowa — the voters who are expected to dominate the first-in-the-nation presidential vote on Feb. 1. The question is whether Cruz can siphon enough Tea Party voters from front-runner Donald Trump to vault Cruz into the No. 1 slot when votes are counted less than two months from now, they say. He and his massive network of pastors and other religious activists helped propel Rick Santorum to a narrow caucus victory in 2012, and Mike Huckabee to a win in 2008.

And it’s a blow to the other candidates who auditioned for the endorsement, including Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham. The electorate was overwhelmingly male (57 percent), white (99 percent), well-educated (only 17 percent had no college education), well-off (28 percent earned $100,000 or more, 39 percent between $50,000 and $100,000), and 68 percent were 45 years or older. As the popular outsider Ben Carson fades, Cruz is ascending — and he’s eating into Trump’s base, religious conservative leaders told The Des Moines Register this week. “I do sense he is picking up a lot of steam in Iowa,” said Royce Phillips, who is founding pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Coralville and has been plugged into conservative politics in Iowa for three decades. “I don’t think many people think deep down that Donald Trump is going to be one of the final players. Vander Plaats has long expressed hope that the conservative movement would coalesce behind one candidate before the Iowa Caucuses, with the aim of helping that person land a decisive win there, generating enough momentum to beat out establishment rivals for the GOP nomination.

Jeb Bush and Chris Christie didn’t court Vander Plaats, a controversial figure who is a lightning rod for criticism for his belief that conservative Christian ideology should be the driving force in government. The Cruz campaign has built out extensive infrastructure in the first four early states, as well as in all of the states that vote up through March 15, in the hopes of capitalizing on momentum that would stem from a strong performance in Iowa. In 2008, Vander Plaats spent a year stumping for Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, and at the last minute in 2012 backed Santorum, a former Pennsylvania U.S. senator.

A smaller, faster player walks through that hole.” Team Cruz is taking inspiration from an unlikely source for a firebrand hero of the right: Barack Obama and the 2008 “grass-roots army” that vaulted him past the Hillary Clinton juggernaut in first-in-the-nation Iowa and into the White House. The old GOP model for nominating “mushy moderate” Republicans like Mitt Romney and John McCain failed miserably, said Kellyanne Conway, a pollster who works for a super PAC backing Cruz.

Cruz, a charismatic first-term U.S. senator, likes to say he modeled his 2012 Texas bid — and now his 2016 bid — after the first black president’s 2008 race. “I went and bought Obama’s campaign manager’s book, David Plouffe, The Audacity to Win, and gave it to my senior team and said, ‘We’re going to do exactly this,’” Cruz said in Sheldon in June. “We had a grass-roots army of young people, of Republican women, of Hispanics, of American men and women, of Reagan Democrats.” Cruz’s campaign, a sleepy, second-tier affair over the summer, is suddenly the talk of Iowa, GOP county leaders said. Steve King, an influential congressman from the conservative western part of the state, came out for Cruz, calling him the most substantive and electable of the conservative choices. Steve King, a hardline conservative, who endorsed Cruz in November, praised him as the answer to his prayers — a true “constitutional originalist.” So he’s still viewed as that outside candidate who really knows how this thing works and what needs to be changed.” Asked if The Family Leader could have endorsed Trump in the midst of the latest firestorm about his opinions, this time his call to bar Muslims from entering the United States, Vander Plaats answered: “Mr.

Trump, he was probably taken off our radar when he made the decision not to attend the forum.” “However, I do believe the one issue he decided he was going to lead in Washington, D.C., with (Democratic New York Sen. Politics watchers said he has run a tactically smart race: not staffing up too early, conserving money, banking endorsements, riding the national narrative and not treating Iowa like a traditional ground-pounding operation right from the get-go. Perkins and others have echoed Vander Plaats’s desire for uniting behind a consensus conservative choice, and Perkins has been involved in efforts to find that person. But in the group of moderate or somewhat conservative voters, there are plenty of educated and relatively upscale voters for whom Trump holds little attraction.

Cruz languished as a second-tier candidate all year — he claimed only 6% of likely GOP caucusgoers support in an Iowa Poll in January; 8% in August; and 10% in October. Chuck Grassley told the Register: “I’ve heard for a month (Cruz) seems to have a pretty good plan to get faithful people to come to the caucuses, and he may be benefiting from people who very much like Dr.

Perkins, who told POLITICO in November that Cruz is doing “all the right things,” has so far shied away from personally endorsing, noting that he has many friends in the race, but is leaving the option open. There have been other bellwethers that signaled Iowa evangelicals might unite around one candidate, therefore amplifying their power in lifting a religious conservative into the nomination. A member of the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee who had pledged to stay neutral, Loras Schulte, was so moved by Cruz that he resigned from his seat and endorsed for the first time in 16 years. If Trump wins Iowa, it would be an exception to the rule that candidates who draw strength from very conservative evangelicals (Huckabee in 2008, Santorum in 2012) generally win.

And the board gave the go-ahead for Vander Plaats, Family Leader vice president Chuck Hurley and board chairman Robert Cramer to make personal endorsements. But in a state that awards delegates proportionally and in a field of so many candidates, the most interesting result could be the third- or fourth-place finisher, the candidate who had a good enough ground game to maximize his support among the 54 percent of voters who do not identify as very conservative. (That in 2008 was Sen. His backers said it’s tricky to get a solid read on any campaign’s ground game, unless, as with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s crew, a stream of door-knockers is obvious everywhere. Trump likely has more than enough supporter names in his campaign database, collected from Iowans who mobbed the reality TV star’s events, to win outright.

In sum, a disproportionate number of very conservative and evangelical Iowa voters favors Carson or Cruz, unless Trump alters the demographic of the caucuses in a significant way. Trump’s unpredictability makes Feb. 1 a big unknown, said Cindy Golding, chairwoman of the Linn County GOP. “The people I talk to who are Trump supporters are not your typical voters or caucusgoers,” she said. A big turning point in the race: Cruz’s “this is not a cage match” line in the CNBC debate in Boulder, Colo., in October, Iowa conservatives said, which showcased his remarkable memory and rhetorical skills. Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues people care about.” “I think my dad stole a line from me,” the congressman’s son, Jeff King, told the Register with a laugh.

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