Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Prominent Iowa faith leader Bob Vander Plaats asked Michele Bachmann to dramatically alter her White House plans, according to the Bachmann campaign, including the possibility of dropping her presidential bid altogether.
"[Bob] Vander Plaats called us on Saturday and asked us to consider the possibility of merging with another candidate," Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart told CNN. "He did not say whether we should be president or vice presidential candidate."
"And obviously, we didn't even consider that," Stewart added. "We said, 'Why would we do that?' "
Bachmann told CNN's "American Morning" anchor Ali Velshi on Wednesday there was no reason for the campaign to consider Vander Plaats' request for her to drop out of the race because "we've always polled above Rick Santorum." Santorum received a personal endorsement from Vander Plaats on Tuesday after the organization he heads, Family Leader, couldn't agree on who to endorse.
"I'm the one that has the momentum that's shooting up the chart right now," Bachmann said, crediting her performance in the last presidential debate for increased attention to her candidacy.
Family Leader is a Christian organization that holds sway over many Iowa social conservatives - a crucial voting bloc in the state's January 3 caucus. But Bachmann boasted, "I have probably the strongest level of support of the candidates here (in Iowa) among evangelical supporters," and cited her endorsement from 100 pastors and conservative TV host Glenn Beck.
CNN was unable to immediately reach Vander Plaats. A spokeswoman for The Family Leader refused to comment.
Earlier Tuesday, Vander Plaats and Family Leader Vice President Chuck Hurley endorsed GOP candidate Rick Santorum. In praising the former Pennsylvania senator, they essentially urged other Republican presidential hopefuls to end their campaigns and coalesce around one candidate.
The Family Leader refused to issue an endorsement as an organization, as its board members could not reach consensus on who to support. The group's seven-member board had recently narrowed its options down to Bachmann, Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The goal for The Family Leader and other like-minded social conservatives is to avoid splitting the evangelical vote by coalescing around one conservative candidate who could stop Mitt Romney from winning the Republican nomination. Many social conservatives and other religious leaders in the state have openly labeled the former Massachusetts governor a "flip-flopper," a criticism the campaign frequently beats back, while others have seen Romney's Mormon faith as an issue.
Representatives for leading social conservatives in the state held a secret meeting in November as part of the effort to deny Romney the GOP nomination.
Vander Plaats has criticized Romney's scant campaigning in the state compared to the other GOP contenders.
At the Tuesday announcement of their support for Santorum, Vander Plaats said, "If the Des Moines Register wants to endorse a candidate who's barely been here, then I think it's okay for us - Chuck and I - to endorse a candidate who's has been to about 350 communities in the state of Iowa."
The Register, the state's largest newspaper, on Sunday endorsed Romney's candidacy.
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I don't get this. Why would they pick Santorum? He's visited all 99 counties, but still remains at or near last place in the polls. And he's behind the other 3 conservatives in the race.
It's as if this Faith group is trying to force Santorum on an electorate that has already outright rejected him.
Notice hey did not even consider the only Peace embracing Candidate..Ron Paul.
These people are not Christians.
Hmmm, smart contemplating by TFL.
When religious groups get involved with politics, they should loose tax exempt status.
...but what about the issues? The issues are what is happening to this nation. The "narrative" is about what these folks want...to win at any cost with little to no interest in real issues. Not to beat up on Gingrich, but his past is quite interesting to most and one would readily see hypocrisy as he is embraced by "faith" organizations. I don't wanna hear any forgiveness bs either. Many of these folks would never forgive Obama for having won the presidency, but will kiss Newt's sinnin' posterior if it means a possible win for them.
Too good to be true. Obama vs. right wing nuts. 4 more years assured
Faith leader Bob Vander Plaats should stay in the business of stupifying people in his church and keep out of politics. The IRS should revoke their tax exemption.
God want Bachmann to run. hahahahahaha. what a loser.
Yupe! Don't quit!! LOL
This has nothing to do with anti-Mitt and everything to do with anti-Mormon. Old prejudices, hate and secret meetings, seeking to influence and control the government. This is anti-Christian.
A leader who "holds sway" over Iowa Republicans. Pretty funny actually. Can any intelligent creature say they are held in sway by someone else? Only Christians, I guess.
Wow! Michelle, you are not a politician? What you doing in congress? Just saying anything to curry votes. Sounds like a typical politician. Any way, you can claim Michelle also ran.
THE GOP once a proud anchor of American political life has sold its soul! when the like of Limbaugh can be "the voice" of the party in the public square it's obvious the party is out of ideas, out of well-schooled leaders; and out of anything resembling trustworthy leadership. So, by doing what it is doing the GOP has voted Obama in for another years years! Newt? He lies. Mitt? He lies. Bachmann? She's just confused about America. Who's remain that can lead??? Um...er...well....Oh heck, wait 'til next time! What a bunch of negative minds, hate filled people, and pointless politics. There is no way anything the eventual presidential candidate says will have any negative effect on President Obama. While there is so much the GOP could pounce on, it's really taken itself out of contention with mindless candidates!
The woman couldn't win if she were the only one running, why is she the only one who does not know that?
Religion and politics: that's always a healthy mix. Just one more reason I'll never be a Republican.
What're these conservatives concerned about? Romney will say "sure!" to any proposal they make, any bar they set, any demand they make.
Somebody should tell Vander Plaats that it's freedom of and from religion. I know the religious zealots don't read anything but the bible let alone the Constitution but it's right there take a look. The Idea a religious organization that pays no taxes commenting on any election is revolting as a President getting sworn in using a Qur'an...... Oh wait Thomas Jefferson did.
So sorry Mr Bob Vander Plaats, I would never vote for Santorum either. Not being a christian I see no difference between Santorum and Backmann – they are both right wing religious extremists. Neither could think their way out of a paper bag.
I think that Bachmann and all the others in the campaign should slug it out to the very end. I want to see the mud slung every where by all the candidates.
Anyone who follows some organization called The Family Leader should have their head examined.
Nah, let Bachmann waste her money, the economy can use it.
Bachmann is going to go off the deep end. But I bet she is not going to go negative on this group. The Republican party is in disarray and it's funny!!!
I've never thought of her as a viable candidate, and would not vote for her. That being said, now I hope she stays in the running for president because the church has seen fit to get involved. If the church wants to have a voice in this, then the church needs to pay it's fair share of taxes. The separation of church and state should be adhered to.
I was very sad to the the Des Moines Register makeing a move to Romney
Yes make sure make sure the guy who doesnt go to the same church as you get votes for President because.... can I see any substance that isn't the same arguement that could be made to almost every candidate. Case and point...I cant vote for a man that cheats on his wife(Cain) so Im going to vote for the man who cheated on two wives(Gingrich). I honestly dont get these religous conservatives? what is it that you want? The family guy? thats not Romney? his family is a carved out carbon copy of a Norman Rockwell picture. Man of Faith? he's worked for free in his church his whole life and gave up a stanford scholorship to serve his church oversees for 2.5 years and paid his way? Every issue he lines up with your agenda but what is it? Oooooooh this is the united states of america in 2011 and you dont like his brand of faith, Mormons right, they are crazy folk, they are taught to like people as bigoted as your organization, Merry Christmas