DES MOINES, IOWA — During a busy weekend in Iowa – serving ice cream to residents and mingling with voters – Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey attended a church service on Sunday with Bob Vander Plaats, a prominent Iowa evangelical activist and CEO of The Family Leader.
Vander Plaats tweeted on Sunday that he was “blessed” to have Florida’s governor and first lady join him, citing scripture in First Timothy and a hashtag #ChooseWell2024.
“FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT”
But shortly after the church service, Vander Plaats replied to a post by conservative commentator Ted Starnes who asked about DeSantis’ church attendance. Starnes said some Republicans are upset that Trump is not a “frequent church-goer.”
“The problem people of Faith have with @realDonaldTrump isn’t Church attendance,” Vander Plaats responded.
“Has everything to do with the ‘fruits of the Spirit,’” Vander Plaats added. “For example, F bombs and mocking people with disabilities. You can be a statesman while being a bold leader.”
A GROWING RIFT
But that wasn’t Vander Plaats’ only criticism of the former president over the weekend. On Saturday, Vander Plaats shared talk show host Steve Deace’s tweet accusing Trump of “funding the ballot harvesting scheme Democrats used to steal the last election” and handing “the country and his balls” over to Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.
“This, and more, is why @realDonaldTrump supporters are looking for another candidate,” Vander Plaats wrote. “The facts aren’t lining up with the repetitive rhetoric. This is the #swamp.”
A growing rift between evangelicals and former President Trump has widened after Trump chose to skip the influential Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines in July.
Evangelicals wield considerable influence over Iowa’s early caucuses and DeSantis has gained traction by covering 30 counties on a bus tour hosted by super PAC Never Back Down. The governor will continue his journey across four counties in the Hawkeye State this Thursday and Friday.