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Vander Plaats and Hurley both referred to Santorum as the potential "Mike Huckabee" of the Iowa caucus.

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Influential Iowa Social Conservatives Endorse Rick Santorum

Vander Plaats and Hurley both referred to Santorum as the potential “Mike Huckabee” of the Iowa caucus.

The Family Leader, an influential social conservative organization in Iowa that has a lot of sway with Iowa’s key Evangelical voting bloc, decided not to endorse a candidate today. Two of its most prominent leaders though, CEO Bob Vander Plaats and Policy Director Chuck Hurley, endorsed former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, citing Santorum as the candidate who has most prominently linked the strength of the nation’s economy to strong families.

Vander Plaats and Hurley both referred to Santorum as the potential “Mike Huckabee” of the Iowa caucus. Huckabee, who won Iowa’s caucus in 2008, often, as Santorum has done, spoke constantly about how strong families and strong economies are interrelated.

“I saw him as a champion for the family on the campaign trail,” Vander Plaats said. “He always brought the issues of the day back to the family.”

Vander Plaats also said that he called Santorum after his third place finish in the Ames Straw Poll this summer to tell him to stay in the race because his voice was needed.

“I’ve never seen a caucus like this,” Vander Plaats said. “People are going from one candidate to another in a ten minute period, figuring out where to land.”

Hurley said he was sold on Santorum because he was “capable, God-fearing, and trustworthy” and cited three specific examples that won him over throughout the course of the campaign in which Santorum has been the hardest working candidate in Iowa, having traveled to all of Iowa’s 99 counties and conducted more than 360 town hall events.

Hurley said he decided Santorum was the person to endorse because Santorum sees that “economics is a family issue,” links “national renewal to strong families,” and has proclaimed that his first year in office would be the year of the family where he would travel the country discussing how “strengthening families must be our nation’s and culture’s number one priority.”

“I urge every caucus-goer to take a close look at Rick,” Hurley said.

These endorsements will surely allow Iowans to do so, in part because of how fluid the race still is nearly two weeks before votes are cast in the nation’s first nominating contest where it is not implausible for any of the six candidates actively participating in the caucus to win. Currently, Santorum is tied in most Iowa polls with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at around 10 percent. They trail Messrs. Paul, Romney, and Gingrich in polls in which more than half of those polled still say they are open to changing their minds on or before caucus night. 

“I’ve never seen a caucus like this,” Vander Plaats said. “People are going from one candidate to another in a ten minute period, figuring out where to land.”

Added Vander Plaats: “I believe [Santorum] is ready for a Jan. 3 surprise.”

Social conservatives in Iowa, by focusing on beating Romney, have tried to find the candidate that could best defeat Romney instead of the one who most closely shared their values. In many Romney is to Iowa’s social conservatives what President Barack Obama is to Republicans.

But in recent weeks, many influential leaders like Vander Plaats and other Evangelical heavyweights have come home to Santorum.”

“I believe Rick Santorum comes from us, not to us,” Vander Plaats said. “He’s one of us.”

Santorum must now hope Republican caucus-goers and primary voters come to the same conclusion.

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Written By

Tony Lee edits The Chase 2012 section and writes on politics and culture for HUMAN EVENTS. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. E-mail: ALEE (at) EaglePub.com

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