A Top Evangelical Says He’s Done With Trump
A top evangelical leader in Iowa is calling on Republicans to “turn the page” on Donald Trump, and insists that the former president’s recent efforts to soften his politics on abortion have “flung” the doors of 2024 Iowa caucus contest “wide open” for likely competitors like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Bob Vander Plaats is the head of The Family Leader, a prominent Christian conservative group based in Iowa that seeks to promote “godly, righteous leaders in government” so that they can, in turn, advance “God’s Kingdom.” Vander Plaats made his case on The Hill’s news program on the cable channel News Nation.
Vander Plaats centered his criticism of Trump on what he characterized as the former president’s exhausting quest for “vengeance” for his loss in the 2020 election, and in his failure to back the anti-abortion agenda to the hilt.
Trump recently suggested that an extreme bill enacted by DeSantis in Florida, banning abortions after six weeks of gestation (a time-frame when many women wouldn’t even know they were pregnant), was “too harsh” even for many pro-lifers. He has also — as detailed by Rolling Stone — privately fumed that abortion politics are behind the GOP’s recent electoral setbacks.
Vander Plaats addressed these comments head-on. He stipulated that Trump has a great track-record. “The former president could take a victory lap by just saying, ‘I’m the guy who gave you three Supreme Court justices that overturned Roe v. Wade,'” Vander Plaats said.
Instead, the Family Leader CEO argued, Trump “alienates himself from the pro-life community by saying, ‘You’re the reason we didn’t do better in 2022.’ And then, just recently, saying that Ron DeSantis, who signed a heartbeat bill in the state of Florida, was ‘too harsh.'”
“The pro life community expects better than that,” Vander Plaats insisted, referring to Trump’s abortion answers at the infamous CNN town hall as “a disaster” as well. “That’s why I think the Iowa caucus store has flung wide open for people to take a look at who should be our nominee,” he said.
In separate comments on a Blaze Media podcast, Vander Plaats echoed these concerns. He freely mixed his transportation metaphors arguing that Trump had touched the “third rail” of GOP election politics in Iowa by “throwing the pro-life community under the bus.” He added of Iowa conservative caucus goers, “They’re going to be open to anybody that’s got a consistent pro-life message, and the credentials to back it up. And it so happens to be that Gov. DeSantis has that.”
In his News Nation remarks, Vander Plaats expanded his criticism to include Trump’s lack of a positive platform and constant campaign of complaint — including the way the former president perseverates on his 2020 defeat, as well as on his plans for payback. “If we’re gonna have a conversation about what happened in the past — or vengeance about what happened in the past — versus about a compelling vision for the future,” Vander Plaats insisted, “we’re gonna get beat in 2024.”
He added: “I think Americans are exhausted by it.”