Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz added two more right-wing leaders to his list of endorsements today, with the latest coming from Iowa conservative stalwart and president of the right-wing group Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats.
"Our goal is to unite conservatives around Ted Cruz," Vander Plaats said in the capitol rotunda Thursday, according to Arkansas public radio station KUAR. "We believe he'll be the nominee to take on and defeat Hillary Clinton."
Vander Plaats, who led a successful 2010 effort to oust three state Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality, announced his backing of The Advocate's 2014 Phobie of the Year inside the Iowa capitol rotunda today.
Noting that his endorsement was personal in nature, and does not signify the endorsement of the Family Leader, Vander Plaats told reporters that Cruz was a man of character who was "not always popular, but very competent," according to CBS News reporter Kylie Atwood.
Vander Plaats went on to extol Cruz as "the extraordinary leader that we need for these extraordinary times," reports CNN's Betsy Klein.
KUAR called Vander Plaats an "evangelical kingmaker" in Iowa, noting that he endorsed Rick Santorum in 2012, when the former Pennsylvania senator went on to win the Iowa caucus and nearly a dozen others before ultimately losing the GOP nomination to Mitt Romney.
As news broke of Vander Plaats's endorsement of Cruz, a spokesman for Santorum, who is once again running for the GOP nomination, quipped that "Senator Santorum learned four years ago that endorsements do not matter in Iowa."
For his part, Cruz also snagged the endorsement of the antigay National Organization for Marriage, reports The New York Times. In a statement announcing the endorsement, NOM referred to Cruz as “a proven champion for marriage and religious freedom and someone we can absolutely count on to fight to restore marriage to our nation’s laws.”
The Times also notes that Cruz won the support of longtime conservative influencer Richard A. Viguerie, who argued that Cruz is “the only candidate who can unite the conservative coalition” in a primary and general election.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.