Leading Iowa evangelical endorses Ted Cruz for president

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A prominent Iowa evangelical leader has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, a coup for the Texas senator, who has heavily courted churches and pastors in an effort to win the state's leadoff Republican caucuses.

Bob Vander Plaats (PLAHTZ) announced his endorsement today Des Moines, calling Cruz a "serious leader for serious times."

Vander Plaats stressed that this was a personal endorsement, not one on behalf of the Family Leader, the influential Christian conservative group he leads. The group's board has decided not to back a 2016 candidate formally, though several others affiliated with the organization joined Vander Plaats in endorsing Cruz.

Cruz said in a statement that the endorsement is "more evidence that our campaign has momentum and is gaining ground heading into the final weeks of the caucus."

Christian conservative voters traditionally wield significant influence in the Iowa caucuses because they tend to be organized and motivated to participate.

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