In Iowa, It’s Time to Choose. But Whose Time Is It…?

Maggie, on the heels of your posting the Trump Twitter-rage against Iowa pastor Bob Vander Plaats, then his pointed rebuttal, I thought to add a bit of information Mr. Trump probably hadn’t considered when he let his hubris out of its cage only days before the Iowa Caucus.

There’s an old adage in politics that you not attack anyone who buys ink by the barrel. In the digital age, that translates to not attacking someone with the heft to push out millions of impressions to the most influential voting block in the state in a short period of time. Like Bob Vander Plaats.

While Trump was Twittering, Vander Plaats was busy sending a very clear message to the evangelical faithful across the state: It Is Time. Using a stirring web video, radio spots, digital and social media ads, flyers and targeted print ads, the message to both Christian caucus veterans and first timers was clear:

In the hearts of Iowa Christians, called to be salt and light, each with a duty to walk worthy of our calling, It is time.

It is time for the voice of the church to help elect a president who will lead in Godly ways, back to righteousness…and repentance…and healing.

At last count, the several week campaign — timed as voters are making up their minds — was approaching more than three million impressions, no small effort for an anticipated turnout of 150,000 caucus goers, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2012. Think of it as a million rebuttals for every one of Trump’s tweets. Continue Reading

Vander Plaats: Four Reasons Trump Should Not Be President

The Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Bob Vander Plaats is not letting Donald Trump get to him, but he is responding to Trump’s charges and quite correctly asking Iowa voters: do we really want a guy like that in the White House? National Review reports:

When he took the stage here to kick off Cruz’s townhall-style event, Vander Plaats immediately referenced his ‘little spat’ with Trump over Twitter, and cited it as evidence that Trump lacks the ‘judgment and discernment’ to be president.

This wasn’t an isolated incident, Vander Plaats argued. He pointed to four episodes that he said similarly demonstrated Trump’s poor judgment: His assertion last summer that he’d never asked God for forgiveness; his ridiculing John McCain for being captured as a prisoner of war; his apparent mocking of a disabled reporter; and his recent claim that he could ‘shoot somebody’ without losing any support for his presidential bid.

Vander Plaats told the audience of several hundred here that Trump ‘is a friend of mine,’ but quickly added, ‘That kind of pride, that kind of arrogance, in my opinion has no business in the White House.’

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Trump’s Twitter Rant Against Iowa’s Bob Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats is an influential Iowa pastor with a network whose support for Rick Santorum in 2012 helped boost Rick to the unexpected victory in Iowa. This time, Vander Plaats has endorsed and is campaigning for Ted Cruz, leading to another of those strange Donald Trump late-night Twitter rants calling Vander Plaats a “phony” and accusing him of — I’m not sure what — asking for free hotel nights from Trump?

Vander Plaats brushed it off.

But is Trump going to do this from the White House for the next four years?

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Cruz Cruising While Rubio Looks Outmaneuvered

HOT: The big dogs of the social conservative movement have voted, and their candidate is Ted Cruz.  The effort among leading social conservative organizations to coalesce around one candidate – in order to maximize their influence on the nomination process – is a quadrennial initiative which usually comes to naught.  But this year, doubtless due to fear of The Donald, the objective was achieved.

As noted previously, Cruz has been endorsed this week by the National Organization for Marriage and Richard Viguerie.  Other participants in the social conservative consensus project will follow suit.  But the big get is Iowan Bob Vander Plaats, whose network of pastors across the state is widely considered sufficient to swing the caucuses to Cruz.

That sets up a big bounce for Cruz going into New Hampshire.  Of course, the Iowa and New Hampshire electorates are very different (the former evangelical, the latter libertarian), and in fact, New Hampshirites revel in going their own way.  But winning Iowa puts Cruz in the top three in New Hampshire and sends him into South Carolina with Big Mo.

NOT HOT: Marco Rubio.  The cruel calculus of the nominating process is that you actually have to win somewhere early on.  If Cruz does indeed pull out Iowa and South Carolina, with The D taking New Hampshire – or if Cruz comes in second in South Carolina to The D, which will be fun because so many heads will be exploding here in D.C. – there isn’t much oxygen left for Senator Rubio.  Continue Reading

Vander Plaats Endorses Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The move to Ted Cruz by prominent social conservatives continues, as Iowa’s most politically influential evangelical Bob Vander Plaats just announced he has personally endorsed Cruz.

“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,” Bob Vander Plaats, the president of The FAMiLY Leader, told The Des Moines Register.

A Washington Post columnist agrees, dubbing Cruz the real front-runner in the race:

And Ted Cruz is the guy who looks best positioned to win.Yes, you heard that right.

Ted Cruz, as of today, has the most direct route to the Republican presidential nomination — assuming the past history of Republican nomination fights works as a broad predictor of where this race is headed.

It’s still almost two months to the Iowa caucuses, but as of today, Cruz is picking up the Big Mo.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Steve King Endorses Ted Cruz — Will Vander Plaats Be Next?

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

From Politico:

Iowa Rep. Steve King on Monday endorsed Ted Cruz, a coup for the Texas senator who is seeking to gain ground with the first-in-the-nation caucus state’s conservative activists, with whom King is deeply influential.

He made the announcement at a press conference in Iowa and in a video released on Twitter.

King, an immigration hardliner who did not endorse in 2012, has been heavily courted this cycle by candidates vying to consolidate the conservative base. Recently, for example, he embarked on a pheasant hunt, an annual tradition, with candidates including Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

But he has long been thought to favor Cruz. His son is involved in a super PAC that backs the senator, and the two have appeared together frequently at events in Iowa.

The next big question is: Who will The FAMiLY Leader endorse?

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.

Continue Reading