- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Thursday secured the endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, a leading Iowa social conservative and president of the FAMiLY Leader.

“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,” Mr. Vander Plaats, the president of the Christian conservative group, told the Des Moines Register in an interview.

Mr. Cruz has been on the rise in polling in Iowa, and his appeal to evangelical Christian voters could propel him to a strong performance there. He is running second to 2016 GOP rival Donald Trump in the latest RealClearPolitics average of polling on the state.

Mr. Vander Plaats has thrown his support behind the past two winners of the Iowa Caucuses on the Republican side: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008 and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania in 2012. Both Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Santorum are running for president again this year.

The group itself issued a statement saying it would not formally endorse a candidate before the Iowa Caucus, saying it’s critical that none of its ministry efforts be seen as being co-opted by a “partisan agenda.”

“[O]ur board unanimously decided The FAMiLY LEADER needs to remain a standard bearer for Christian principles in our culture and government, and not endeavor to be a kingmaker in the election process,” the statement said.

In addition to the backing from Mr. Vander Plaats, Mr. Cruz was also endorsed recently by GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, one of the leading anti-illegal immigration voices on Capitol Hill.

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