The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Cruz picks up endorsement

Peter Kim
Senator Ted Cruz speaks to the audience at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Saturday 5, 2015. Cruz said he supports not only ethanol but all forms of energy. (The Daily Iowan/Peter Kim)

By Rebecca Morin

[email protected]

The leader of one of Iowa’s most conservative organizations — the Family Leader — has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Bob Vander Plaats backed Cruz on Tuesday at a press conference in Des Moines at the State Capitol.

But the new endorsement could do more harm than good, some experts and Iowans say.

“This time, I really believe I’m seeing leaders I’ve been visiting with that are ready to coalesce and unite around Sen. Ted Cruz,” Vander Plaats said. “I also see the infrastructure that Sen. Cruz has, the resources that he has to be able to go the distance. I really believe and expect Sen. Ted Cruz to be the nominee in 2016.”

This endorsement comes a little more than three weeks after Iowa’s staunchly conservative Rep. Steve King also backed Cruz. The Family Leader group, however, said it would not endorse a candidate.

David Yepsen, the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said the endorsement might mean something to Cruz, but it is in no way “the whole ball game.”

Yepsen noted it helps Cruz argue to social conservative voters that he got the blessing from the Family Leader, so they should give him their vote.

According to a Dec. 7 CNN/ORC Iowa poll, 33 percent of Republican likely caucus-goers said Republican frontrunner Donald Trump was their first choice. Cruz came in next with 20 percent, followed by 16 percent for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

With 552 Republican likely caucus-goers surveyed, there is a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Though Cruz has solidified two major backers, Linn County Republican Chairwoman Cindy Golding said she thinks some of the group endorsements do more harm than good.

She said it hinders some of the other candidates.

“We kind of had an idea of who [he was] going to endorse,” she said when asked what she thought of Vander Plaats endorsement.

Yepsen said one of the perils Cruz could face with his new supporters is peaking too early.

Cruz has only surpassed Trump in Iowa in one poll.

In a Monmouth University Poll released Monday, 24 percent of Republican likely caucus-goers said Cruz would be their first choice. Trump was at 19 percent, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio with 17 percent.

There is a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percent with 425 Republican likely caucus-goers polled by telephone.

Carson, who has usually polled in the top three in Iowa, fell behind Rubio with 13 percent in the Monmouth poll.

And that trend could possibly happen to Cruz, Yepsen said.

Yepsen said Carson was emerging as front-runner but did not hold his own with voters when it came to foreign policy. That caused him to fall in polling and let new front-runners emerge.

Cruz’s endorsements came about 50 days before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, which means voters still have time to change their candidate.

“Over the arch of this race, there have been a lot of people up and a lot of people down,” Yepsen said. “The hot light is going to get hotter on Cruz. He will have every morsel of his life chewed thoroughly.”

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