Evangelical leader says Trump’s 2024 problem is ‘no one wants their child to grow up like him’

Donald Trump’s often abrasive demeanour may have finally caught up with him.

A top political activist in Iowa active in the evangelical Christian movement — Bob Vander Plaats — recently announced his support for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as Mr Trump’s rivals continue to push for an upset victory in the first-in-the-nation caucus. Now, he is explaining his decision, which he says is linked to a perceived aura of moral decay that he asserts surrounds the former president.

Speaking with Steve Deace of The Blaze, Mr Vander Plaats pointed to the Trump camp’s aggression against Iowa’s GOP governor, Kim Reynolds, who had also rejected an endorsement of Mr Trump in favour of his leading opponent.

“First of all, with Governor Reynolds and what he did by cutting a video against her ... two of the most popular governors and the most results-producing governors in the country. The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds. And you completely throw them under the bus,” Mr Vander Plaats complained. “You call them names and all that just because they don’t bow the knee to you. That’s not leadership.”

Then, he added: “The number one hurdle for Donald Trump is I’ve never met a dad or a mom or a grandpa or a grandma who have told me they want their son or daughter, grandchild to grow up to be like him. ”

Mr Trump’s feud against Ms Reynolds, who endorsed Mr DeSantis earlier this year, has continued for months. The governor has largely declined to respond to repeated attacks leveled against her on Truth Social by the former president.

Just last week, the former president wrote of the governor: “Kim Reynolds of Iowa has gone from a popular Governor to the MOST UNPOPULAR GOVERNOR IN THE UNITED STATES, not an easy feat.”

He then added in the same post, “I wonder what position Kim was promised in order to back someone who is so far down in the polls?"

It was a strong statement coming from a prominent Republican and indicative of why Mr Trump failed in 2020 to convincingly lob criticism about the Biden family’s overseas business practices as he sought to level the playing field on the issue of voters’ perception of the two candidates and their character. The former president himself remains burdened by allegations that his son-in-law Jared Kushner was doing the bidding of the Saudis after the latter secured a $2bn investment from the Saudi government’s sovereign wealth fund shortly after leaving the White House.

The ex-president is also staring down the barrel of four separate impending criminal trials; those are set to take place over the next year, and could significantly affect the perception of the former president in the public’s eye should evidence of his conduct become a major talking point during the general election.

Mr Trump’s GOP rivals in the Republican nominating contest have sought, sparingly out of fear of angering his supporters, to make those points; however, they have largely failed to chip off any substantial amount of support from the former president’s numbers.

He continues to be the wide favourite to win the GOP presidential nomination, with most national polls of the primary indicating that he holds the support of more than half of the Republican electorate.