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Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley Endorse Rick Santorum

Politico

Rick Santorum’s endorsement Tuesday by two leading Iowa social conservatives offers the former Pennsylvania senator a major boost in his campaign-within-a-campaign against Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann —if he can seize it.

With Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley throwing their support behind Santorum two weeks before the caucuses, the underfunded candidate will enjoy a burst of publicity to match his growing buzz among grassroots Iowa conservatives.

The endorsements come as social conservatives have been expressing growing concern over the lack of a clear candidate to unite behind. The endorsements Tuesday highlight that unease and splintering — while Vander Plaats backed Santorum, his group The Family Leader did not, instead stating that it had unanimously decided to let him make a personal endorsement which reflected the board’s feelings.

Nonetheless, the endorsements Tuesday give the Pennsylvanian a credential to hold up to Iowa’s overwhelmingly undecided evangelical community at just the moment he was appearing to move into a three-way tie with Perry and Bachmann for what may be the last remaining ticket to New Hampshire and beyond.

“I believe Rick Santorum comes from us,” Vander Plaats told reporters at a press conference in a hotel lobby here. “Not to us. He comes from us. He is one of us.”

Santorum, Hurley said, “meets and exceeds the biblical qualifications” for Iowa evangelicals.

Santorum has for months worked diligently in Iowa, campaigning county-by-county in the traditional way, and veteran Republicans said he was the one to watch move late.

“His support is starting to get as passionate as with Ron Paul,” said Craig Robinson, who writes the IowaRepublican.com and previously worked for the state GOP, following the Sioux City debate last Thursday.