Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley, influential social evangelical conservatives in Iowa who head up the group The Family Leader, endorsed presidential candidate former Senator Rick Santorum on Tuesday.
In his endorsement speech, Mr. Vander Plaats said that Mr. Santorum “has been a stalwart and a soldier for the sanctity of human life and God’s design for the family, one man-one woman marriage.”
“I as an individual am going to endorse Rick Santorum. I’m going to mobilize whatever resources I have at my disposal to advocate for him. I will not tear down another candidate. I believe Rick Santorum comes from us,” he said.
Vander Plaats then added, “He comes from us, not just to us. He’s one of us….I also recognize that we’re down to fourteen days minus Christmas.”
“I am truly honored to receive the Bob and Chuck’s endorsement today. I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know them over the past several years. In fact, we campaigned together throughout 2010 as they successfully worked tothrow out activist judges who redefined marriage in the Hawkeye State,” Santorum said in a statement.
Mr. Santorum praised Mr. Vander Plaats and Mr. Hurley saying that “Their reach and influence covers all corners of Iowa, and I know they did not take this endorsement lightly. This means so much more to our campaign. If their work on behalf of Governor Huckabee four years ago is any indication.”
A press statement on The Family Leader website that was released on Tuesday specifies that Santorum received personal endorsements of Famliy Leader board members’ Mr. Vander Plaats and Mr. Hurley. However, the press statement stressed that Family Leader itself “will remain neutral” during the presidential campaign cycle.
According to reports, The Family Leader’s seven person board met on Friday and Monday to discuss the endorsement which was narrowed down to presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann.
This endorsement could very well rocket Santorum’s campaign into the higher tiers of the GOP presidential pool in Iowa where the evangelical vote in the Iowa caucuses is consistent in their voting habits. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee received the same endorsement in 2008 and many believe it helped the Arkansas Republican win the 2008 Iowa caucuses.