Ted Cruz picks up Bob Vander Plaats endorsement in Iowa

Story highlights

Bob Vander Plaats gave his long-anticipated endorsement Thursday to Sen. Ted Cruz

Vander Plaats endorsed Iowa winner Rick Santorum in the 2012 campaign

The Family Leader organization did not make an endorsement of its own

Des Moines, Iowa CNN  — 

Evangelical leader and powerbroker Bob Vander Plaats gave Ted Cruz’s campaign a boost Thursday morning with an endorsement as the Texas Republican fights Donald Trump for the lead in Iowa.

“The extraordinary leader that we need for these extraordinary times is U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz,” Vander Plaats. the president and CEO of the conservative Family Leader organization, said at a press conference at the Iowa state Capitol.

Vander Plaats is seen as one of the most influential kingmakers in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. His close alignment with political networks and activist followings could help tip the scales in the Iowa caucuses. Vander Plaats endorsed Iowa caucus winner Rick Santorum in 2012.

The Family Leader did not have consensus to make an endorsement, but the board unanimously released Vander Plaats and his colleagues Robert Cramer, Bill Tvedt and Chuck Hurley, to endorse the senator independently.