The leader of an influential evangelical organization in Iowa — with a history of supporting the winner of the state’s caucuses — endorsed Texas Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] for president on Thursday.
Bob Vander Plaats, the president of The Family Leader, made the announcement at Iowa’s State Capitol.
“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 nomination,” Vander Plaats told The Des Moines Register.
Vander Plaats endorsed Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012. Both went on to win the state’s caucuses.
It’s a big get for Cruz, whose poll numbers have been rising in Iowa and who has been angling for the state’s evangelical vote. The RealClearPolitics polling average has Donald Trump at 25.7 percent in Iowa, followed by Cruz at 22.3 percent. (RELATED: Here Are The Most Glaring Examples Of Favoritism Revealed In Hillary’s Emails So Far)
It’s also a particularly disappointing development for other Republicans like Ben Carson, Huckabee and Santorum.
“The political calculations of any single organization will not determine the presidency because Iowa voters are very independent minded and will vote their conscience,” Huckabee said in a statement to The Daily Caller.
“Our strategy is and has always been about connecting with individual Iowans,” he said. “We continue to believe that Iowa evangelicals want a president that knows leadership is more than giving speeches, Iowa farmers want a president that supports them and Iowa seniors want a President who will protect Social Security and Medicare, not cut it.”