Vander Plaats personally endorsed Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012, but Vander Plaats says in 2016, voters are “moving on.”
Vander Plaats credits Cruz with having the organizational muscle in place to run a successful campaign in Iowa and elsewhere, plus Vander Plaats praises Cruz’s campaign fundraising.
Vander Plaats says he talked with Huckabee, Santorum and Donald Trump in the past 24 hours to let them know he’d be endorsing Cruz.
Four years ago, Vander Plaats expressed the hope that other candidates would end their campaigns so Santorum could be the consensus choice for conservatives. This time around, Vander Plaats says it’s up to the 2016 candidates to make that decision.
Vander Plaats serves as president and C-E-O of The Family Leader, a Christian conservative organization. The group’s legal counsel, the chairman of its board of directors and its chaplain also endorsed Cruz today, but The Family Leader organization did not. Vander Plaats says one board member who is “a personal friend” of another candidate was the lone hold-out. The rest of the board supports Cruz. Vander Plaats first met Cruz in early 2013, after Cruz had been elected to the U.S. senate. Cruz and his father, who is a pastor, have appeared at The Family Leader events in 2013, 2014 and 2015.