Donald Trump is leading in all the early polls of Republican voters, but one key group of his supporters might be ready to look elsewhere.
Bob Vander Plaats, head of the influential conservative Christian organization The Family Leader, told CNN that while evangelicals are “appreciative” of what Trump accomplished as president, they’re also “exhausted” by his antics.
Many are ready to move on ― and that could potentially lead to an upset when Iowa holds its first-in-the-nation caucuses in January.
“Iowa is tailor-made to upend Trump,” Vander Plaats, who is based in Iowa, told the network. “If he loses Iowa, there’s a competitive nomination process. If he wins Iowa, I think it’s over.”
Trump visited Iowa earlier this month, where he received a decidedly mixed reaction, from cheers at a frat party to boos and some middle fingers during a visit to a football game.
Vander Plaats has been critical of Trump ― last month, for example, he called the former president out for “F bombs and mocking people with disabilities.”
But he’s not alone within the movement.
Mike Evans, part of a group of evangelicals who met with Trump at the White House, had blunt words for the former president in an interview with The Washington Post last year.
“He used us to win the White House. We had to close our mouths and eyes when he said things that horrified us,” Evans told the newspaper. “I cannot do that anymore.”
He added: “Donald Trump can’t save America. He can’t even save himself.”
Another onetime faith adviser to Trump, James Robison of Life Outreach International, said last year that Trump’s ego is getting in the way of the agenda.
“If Mr. Trump can’t stop his little petty issues, how does he expect people to stop major issues?” Robison said, according to the Post.
And Washington Times columnist Everett Piper, who had previously endorsed Trump, blamed the former president for the Republican Party’s disappointing midterm election performance last year and said it could only get worse for the GOP next year.
“Donald Trump has to go,” Piper wrote in The Washington Times. “If he‘s our nominee in 2024, we will get destroyed.”