A Christian conservative from Iowa was part of a small group reception and a large group meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this week.
Bob Vander Plaats, president of The Family Leader, said it was “encouraging” to see more than a thousand “faith leaders” from across the country show up for the meeting with Trump.
“They have a great interest in the future of this country, they want leadership for this country, but they also have questions regarding Mr. Trump and his candidacy,” Vander Plaats told Radio Iowa. “…As I’ve told a lot of people, half of the battle is showing up and he showed up.”
It was a private meeting and Vander Plaats said Trump provided “clarity” on the defense of religious liberty and assurances he would appoint “conservative, constitutional justices” to the Supreme Court.
“Now I’m sure all of us attendees would like to have him go deeper on a lot of issues,” Vander Plaats said. “But I would say those were the important points and probably the most compelling point is he’s not Hillary Clinton.”
Trump and Vander Plaats met, one-on-one, in Trump’s New York City office in May.
“He and I have been friends for five or six years, but part of being a true friend to him is I’m willing to hold him accountable when he needs to be held accountable,” Vander Plaats said. “And that’s why I’ve never been in #NeverTrump.”
But Vander Plaats is not yet ready to say he’s supporting Trump’s candidacy. Vander Plaats will be one of the Iowa GOP’s delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Vander Plaats was invited to be on a recent conference call to plot strategy for having the party nominate someone other than Trump in Cleveland, but Vander Plaats declined.
“I’m not part of the ‘delegate coup’ to overthrow Mr. Trump, never have been,” Vander Plaats said, “but I think Mr. Trump, if he shows who he’s going to surround himself with — starting with the VP choice, he gives a message that is conservative and compelling going into Cleveland, Cleveland could and should be good for Mr. Trump.”
Vander Plaats endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz before the Iowa Caucuses. This week Vander Plaats asked the Evangelical Christians who are part of The Family Leader network to “think bigger” and pray for “cultural transformation” rather than get “too caught up in the 2016 election.”