Earlier this week, AFN reported that evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats with the Iowa-based The Family Leader had endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – perhaps Trump's main opponent in the contest for the GOP presidential nomination. Republicans, said Vander Plaats, "need to find somebody who can win in 2024" … and Trump, he stated, isn't that "somebody."
That's partly because, according to the Iowa ministry leader, the verbal attacks by Trump and Trump's campaign against people who choose to support other candidates – and recently against Casey DeSantis, the wife of Trump's opponent – have become too hard to ignore.
"It showcases that Donald Trump's campaign is basically all based and founded on being vindictive, and it's about payback, and it's going to be about revenge," Vander Plaats told American Family Radio show host Jenna Ellis on Tuesday.
But the former president hasn't been abandoned by another high-profile evangelical who has been on "Trump train" since it left the station.
"I've supported him for eight years since the summer of 2015 and I support him, as I always say, for his policies and his electability," says Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist-Dallas.
Jeffress acknowledges that the former president is a study in contradictions. To be sure, he doesn't approve of Trump's use of edgy language and over-the-top attacks. "[However,] his policies are biblical policies. They are pro-life, pro-religious liberty, and pro-Israel," the Southern Baptist pastor adds.
Not only was Jeffress a supporter of the president when he was in office, he also was a spiritual advisor, often vising the Oval Office to help Trump understand the perspectives of his – at the time – strongest base of support.
When asked if he is still in contact with the 45th president – and if so, is he advising him to dial back the often-crass and unproductive attacks, Jeffress responded:
"I do remain in contact with President Trump – and all of our conversations I keep private."