Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats is urging Rep. Michele Bachmann to drop out of the GOP presidential race and endorse Rick Santorum, according to several reports Tuesday night.
Vander Plaats announced he – but not his organization, the Family Leader – was backing Santorum. He apparently informed Bachmann of this on Saturday, sources told Politico.
Bachmann declined, Politico reported, noting to Vander Plaats that she has consistently polled ahead of Santorum in the race and still does.
Chuck Hurley, the president of the Iowa Family Policy Center who endorsed Santorum alongside Vander Plaats, said the Christian conservative movement would be better off if coalescing around a single candidate.
“It just makes a lot of sense to me,” he told Politico. “You need a team to run a country. So this isn’t about one person, this isn’t just about Rick Santorum.”
Bachmann’s campaign declined to comment on the conversation but noted that she has been endorsed by a long list of evangelical leaders in the state.
Among them are Pastors Matt Floyd, Bill Tvedt and Brad Cranston and faith leader Tamara Scott, whom the campaign released a statement of support from following the Family Leader’s announcement that it would stay neutral earlier Tuesday.
“The defense of marriage has been the highest priority of Bob Vander Plaats and The Family Leader, and Michele Bachmann has been a bold leader at both the state level and in Washington, D.C. She has met every criterion that the Family Leader has established,” the statement read.
“Iowans of faith know that Michele Bachmann, more than any other candidate in the race, can be counted on to defend and encourage the traditional, Christian values that made our country the greatest nation on Earth. She remains completely deserving of the Family Leader’s full endorsement.”
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