Iowa evangelical leader asked Bachmann to drop 2012 bid

Holly Bailey

A top evangelical leader in Iowa tried to convince Michele Bachmann to drop her bid for the Republican presidential nomination and back Rick Santorum in the race.

Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats phoned Bachmann last Saturday to ask her to rethink her 2012 bid in hopes of uniting social conservatives behind one candidate in Iowa.

In an interview with CBS's Early Show, Bachmann confirmed the call, which was first reported by Politico.

"Yes, there was a call that was made," Bachmann told CBS. "But it didn't make sense, because my numbers have always been above those of Sen. Santorum's. It makes no sense for me to drop out."

Vander Plaats publicly endorsed Santorum in a news conference Tuesday, but he emphasized it was a "personal" endorsement. The Family Leader had planned to endorse as an organization, but the group announced it would remain neutral in the race because of disagreements among board members over which candidate to support.

Vander Plaats is hoping his endorsement will push social conservatives to unite behind Santorum, who has campaigned hard in Iowa but hasn't been able to gain traction in the polls.

An Insider Advantage poll released earlier this week found Santorum with just 3 percent support in Iowa, leading only Jon Huntsman, who hasn't campaigned in the state. By comparison, Bachmann was at 10 percent in the poll, still well behind Ron Paul who now leads there with 24 percent support.

The Des Moines Register reports that Vander Plaats has asked Santorum's campaign for help in raising cash to promote his endorsement—a move he defended as being part of his "responsibility" to boosting the former Pennsylvania senator's 2012 chances.

"That's part of our ethical responsibility. You can't say, 'We endorsed you. Now see you later.' That's not going to do a lot in the long run," he said.

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