After announcing his support for Ron DeSantis on Saturday, former President Donald Trump labelled evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats a “scammer,” pointing out that the leader had accepted payments from the Florida governor’s 2024 presidential campaign and its allies.
Trump slams evangelical leader who endorsed DeSantis as ‘scammer’
In Iowa, the first state to host a GOP primary, Vander Plaats is a well-liked evangelical leader among Republican voters and a prominent target for aspiring contenders.
Though the significance of the choice has been disputed, Vander Plaats became the recent most well-known Iowan to support DeSantis over Trump for president on Tuesday.
Trump posted on Truth Social saying, “Bob Vander Plaats, the former High School Accountant from Iowa, will do anything to win, something which he hasn’t done in many years.”
He continued, “He’s more known for scamming Candidates than he is for Victory, but now he’s going around using Disinformation from the Champions of that Art, the Democrats.”
Trump added, “I don’t believe anything Bob Vander Plaats says. Anyone who would take $95,000 and then endorse a Candidate who is going nowhere is not what Elections are all about!”
Republicans need “somebody who can win in 2024,” the evangelical leader said in his endorsement to Fox News’s Bret Baier on Tuesday. He endorsed the Florida governor two weeks after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds also endorsed DeSantis.
He also cited 2022’s large losses and asserted that “the supposedly red wave really only happened in Florida and Iowa.”
Vander Plaats, the CEO and president of The Family Leader, stated, “Gov. DeSantis took a reliable toss-up state in Florida and made it completely red, won by 20 points, and won in demographics that we haven’t won in. But he’s also done that by being a bold and courageous leader.”
DeSantis expressed gratitude to Vander Plaats for his support on Tuesday through X post, formerly known as Twitter.
A mocking email with the subject “Bob Vander Plaat$ Endorses A Candidate Who Will Never Be President” was sent out by Donald Trump‘s campaign after the announcement.
The campaign released a statement saying, “Over 150 faith leaders in Iowa are organizing their congregations for President Trump and not a single one demanded nearly $100k like Bob Vander Plaat$ did from Ron DeSanctus,”
The campaign stated, “People are willing to support you for free when you are actually the leader of a movement like President Trump is.”
They continued, “Kim Reynolds‘ endorsement won’t save Ron DeSanctus, and neither will Vander Plaat$’ endorsement,” they added.
Before Reynolds’ anticipated endorsement, the former president attacked her, calling her “disloyal.” At the time, Trump declared that “MAGA would never support her again” and that her choice would signal “the end of her political career.”
Trump wrote on Truth Social, “Two extremely disloyal people getting together is, however, a very beautiful thing to watch,”
He added, “They can now remain loyal to each other because nobody else wants them!!!”
In the 2024 contest for the Republican nomination, DeSantis has long been Trump’s closest competitor; nonetheless, the former president has consistently received 50% of the vote in national surveys, while DeSantis has been in the low double digits.
National polls indicate that Trump is still leading in the Republican presidential candidate race. The Iowa Caucuses will formally kick off the 2024 primary season in less than sixty days.
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