Ted Cruz’s Republican presidential campaign picked up a couple of notable far-right endorsements yesterday, with the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage and GOP activist/direct-mail pioneer Richard Viguerie each throwing their support to the Texas senator. Today, however, was an even bigger deal.
NBC News reported on Cruz picking up the backing of Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of the Christian conservative group The FAMiLY Leader.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz continued his rising momentum in the state of Iowa Thursday by receiving the coveted endorsement of social conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats. […]Vander Plaats completes a “trifecta” – as some Iowa Republicans have put it – of key endorsers for Cruz in the conservative evangelical community in Iowa, joining the company of Congressman Steve King and conservative radio host Steve Deace. This will be the first time that these three influential Christian leaders have come together to support a presidential candidate.
The FAMiLY Leader’s vice president and board chairman also announced today that they’re endorsing Cruz, too.
In 2008, Vander Plaats backed Mike Huckabee, who went on to win that year’s Iowa presidential caucuses, and in 2012 he backed Rick Santorum, who also ended up winning that year’s Iowa caucuses. With this track record in mind, Vander Plaats’ support was considered very important to much of the GOP’s 2016 field.
As for Vander Plaats’ background, Right Wing Watch recently highlighted the man whose endorsement was in demand: “”Not only does Vander Plaats want to remove from office or defund the courts of judges who find in favor of marriage equality, he believes that anything, like gay marriage, that ‘goes against the law of nature’ is by definition unconstitutional. He argues that the government is an institution of God and therefore its purpose is ‘to promote righteousness’ and to apply ‘God’s principles and precepts.’”
He’s exactly the man who’ll give Cruz a major boost in a state where the senator already appears to be gaining strength.
But almost as interesting as Vander Plaats’ embrace of the Texas senator’s campaign is his rationale for passing over Cruz’s rivals. The Des Moines Register reported today on the right-wing activist’s thinking, and this stood out for me:
“I would label him as a conservative,” Vander Plaats said of Rubio, a Florida U.S. senator.“However, I do believe the one issue he decided he was going to lead in Washington, D.C., with (Democratic New York U.S. Sen. Chuck) Schumer and (Republican Arizona U.S. Sen.) John McCain and the ‘gang of eight’ gave and gives everybody a little bit of cause for pause. And with immigration being such a big issue today, I think that’s going to be a hurdle that’s going to be a very steep for Marco Rubio to clear.”
I continue to be surprised this isn’t a bigger deal. In a massive field of Republican presidential hopefuls, one of the top candidates among far-right voters is a career politician who partnered with Democrats to write the immigration bill President Obama championed? How is this not a deal-breaker for the GOP base?
In this case, it apparently was.