I’ve seen some recent stories in the news about a feud breaking out between an Evangelical Leader in Iowa and Trump. Bob Vander Plaats is a well-known Evangelical leader in Iowa. Since 2010 he’s headed up The Family Leader, an umbrella group for issues/causes you’d expect an Evangelical group active in GOP politics to advocate for. The group’s Wikipedia entry says the organization is affiliated with the more well known Focus on the Family (James Dobson’s hobby horse) and according to their website it “provides a consistent, courageous voice in the churches, in the legislature, in the media, in the courtroom, in the public square…always standing for God’s truth.” In practice, the Wikipedia link says The Family Leader engages in the following:

  • The Iowa Family Policy Center is the educational arm and works through the media and also operates the Iowa Liberty Justice Center, a public interest law firm handling cases “in the areas of religious liberty, family values, or sanctity of life.”[4]
  • Marriage Matters seeks to strengthen marriage through individual mentoring and seminars.[5]
  • The Iowa Family PAC is a political action committee which supports social conservative candidates. It was formed in 2004[6]
  • Iowa for Freedom “stands up against judicial activism” and was heavily involved in the campaign to remove three Iowa Supreme Court justices who legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa in the Varnum v. Brien case.

So as you might expect among Iowa Evangelicals the group and its leader are both well-known and influential. It’s true Vander Plaats has a less than stellar record as a political candidate, but also worth noting that he was key in helping Ted Cruz win Iowa in 2016. Not that it mattered in the end. As for Trump while he didn’t officially endorse Trump he did offer strong support since. At least until this year. It seems the scales have fallen from Vander Platts eyes, at least when it comes to Trump. While it doesn’t say much about the man’s judgement that he’s all-in for Ron DeSantis what matters is that he’s been openly criticizing Trump. Saying there’s no way “real Christians” can support someone like Trump and even getting in some digs. There was even a “golden shower” reference not long ago!

According to Huffington Post after Trump tore into Vander Plaats on Truth Social calling him names (of course) like a “former High School Accountant” and other belittling Vander Plaats decided to toss a big water balloon at Trump only it wasn’t filled with water when he tweeted:

Just returned from an Iowa stronghold for @realDonaldTrump

Person to Person told me they are done with him. While they long to leave the topic of ‘golden showers’ and return to the discussion of gold standards,The final straw…his lies about @KimReynoldsIA

Yikes! After that it’s safe to say Trump and Vander Plaats will be engaged in open warfare in Iowa and there will be no “goodwill towards men” between them during this upcoming Christmas season. On the contrary. We keep hearing support for Trump has softened some amongst Evangelicals and Iowa is uniquely qualified to hand Trump an upset loss. Of course, Ted Cruz isn’t the only failed Presidential candidate that can tell you winning in Iowa doesn’t inevitably lead to winning the nomination. However, even if Trump wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and even South Carolina (where suddenly it seems he’s got issues) without overwhelming wins, given his legal problems he could be increasingly vulnerable.

So yes, Iowa can do some real damage to Trump which is why this feud is rather more than entertainment for the rest of us. If Evangelicals there turn their backs on Trump it will put wind in the sails of other Evangelical leaders including some mega-church pastors questioning having supported Trump in the past. (And let’s face it – they already got what they wanted from Trump in the judges and Justices he picked!) My point though is this it turning into a serious fight. Trump had already taken notice of Vander Plaats having abandoned him and switching his organization’s support to DeSantis. Combine that with Gov. Kim Reynolds also firmly backing DeSantis and Trump has real reason to be worried. He needs to come out of Iowa as invincible. Inevitable. And he’s got people who are born and bred Iowans that have “juice” saying “No – he’s not worthy of our support.”

All of that makes this latest broadside from Vander Plaats something to keep an eye on. Being a native midwesterner myself (lived my first 26 years in neighboring Illinois) his latest message is something I think will resonate. And Vander Plaats has a platform with a substantial audience. In a new Huffington Post piece published early this morning he’s quoted as saying:

“I believe Iowa will rise up,” Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa-based Family Leader, told The Blaze host Steve Deace. “I believe Iowa will send a message on January 15, ’cuz I think they’re seeing through this as well. This is smoke and mirrors. This is not leadership our country needs.”

Ok, that stings some. However it’s not the what I believe to be devastating punch Vander Plaats has just thrown. The one that will make Iowans and Evangelicals elsewhere stop and actually think. To reflect on their choice to hold their noses and vote for Trump. No, what will hit home and not just with Evangelicals is this tweet on the Republican Accountability feed:

“The number one hurdle for Donald Trump is I’ve never met a dad or a mom or a grandpa or grandma who have told me they want their son or daughter or grandchild to grow up to be like him.”

Again, this is what Vander Plaats claims he’s getting from fellow Evangelicals in Iowa. But if this indictment of Trump’s character spreads beyond that group Trump will be truly wounded. Sure, there are plenty (way too many) MAGAs who blindly worship him even more than their Jeebus (they like Saviors that didn’t get themselves crucified, or similar idiotic logic) and will never, ever admit they have been suckered by the “bigliest” con-man this country has ever seen. But there are an awful lot of conservative voters who held their noses when they voted for Trump.

What Vander Plaats has just said WILL make them think it’s time to put someone else in charge of the GOP. And with a string of trials coming up Trump is going to have a hard time countering those who say (even if only to themselves) that they got what they wanted from Trump (judges and Justices, and for richer folks tax cuts too) and it’s time to move on.

So my friends THAT is a question to start, and keep posing. A campaign theme, and one that can fit easily on signs or even bumper stickers: Do You Want YOUR Kids To Be Like Trump?

Thank you for reading. And please continue your support for Politizoom by coming back.



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  1. When cruz won IA it meant nothing. IA is flyover country and when you look in the dictionary for the definition of “flyover country” you would see a picture of IA next to it. Its paltry value electorally and its complete lack of diversity is why the dems took IA out of its firsty status primary-wise. trump can well afford to lose IA.

    When what Vander Platts is saying starts to be repeated by other con, xtian, ‘pube influencers in other states it becomes a bit more important. There are plenty of con, xtian, ‘pube biggies that are still in his corner so this guy is really just small potatoes even if he does persuade enough folks in IA to leave trump’s cause. More to the point is the fact that trump’s base, which is 30-40% maybe of the the ‘pube base, doesn’t care how un-xtian trump is, loves the fact he acts like an ill-behaved three year old, and in fact loves everything unsavory about the guy. Those people might call themselves xtian, might even go to church regularly, but I guarantee you they’re not listening to Mr. Vander Platts.

    • To a significant degree you’re correct but some time back it started being reported that among younger Evangelicals there was a growing resistance to Trump. It’s probably made for some “interesting” family conversations which given we’ve entered the holiday season might matter some. And Vander Plaats isn’t the only one speaking up. So yes, the bulk of these asshats and their leaders are still with Trump BUT there are cracks in the wall of support. It remains to be seen (as you stated) whether this kind of stuff will become more widely known and talked about. Still, I see a bit of hope that there’s even that possibility.

  2. denis,

    I thought “…among younger evangelicals…” was going to be the lead-in to a joke. Really. Or a SNL cold open.

    Can’t you make out that “young evangelical” at the Thanksgiving dinner table? He’s a mere 94 years old.

    Can you see him at the Christmas tree? Nope, he’s in his basement next to his 6 inch tall plastic tree.

    How can you spot a young evangelical? He’s scurrying home after the book burning taking off his brownshirt and arm band.

  3. Meet my Niece From.Hell. She is a die-hard evangelical and meaner than a pit viper with three hellspawn. She writes (ungrammatically and with an amazing lack of critical thinking) about Jesus and Trump in the same gushing terms. She also.has apparently never read the Sermon on the Mount. She would probably love for her offspring to be exactly like Trump.because under the surface piety her real.god is Money. She was angry with her then-boyfriend, now husbznd, because he bought her a ruby ring at Sam’s instead of a mall.store. Just like her beloved Donnie, she cares more about appearance (the box the ring came in) than reality (he got her a nicer ring with a bigger stone because his money went farther). There are a lot like her. Unless a lot of Big Name Pastors start denouncing him, he has her vote sewn up.

  4. This too little too late Evangelical doesn’t want kids growing up like Trumplethinskin The Coward but is oh so good with having them grow up like Rafael “Ted” Cruz or Ron DeathSantis? Please explain the logic to me? And how do you undo the years of cult programming on the minds of Evangelical offspring from Benedict Donald? Wanting them to grow up to be the next DeSantis is the equivalent of pivoting from a mobster (Trumplethinskin) as a role model to a wanna-be Hitler (DeathSantis) as a role model. Seems like these Evangelicals are only vacillating now that it appears Don The Con is about to be convicted for numerous felonies. Sure but he was okay until he got caught? What in hell are the evangelicals teaching their youth? That it’s okay to violate all 10 of the 10 Commandments as long as you don’t get caught and have to account for your crimes? This is complete insanity masquerading as a religion.


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