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Ted Cruz Scores Another Influential Endorsement in Iowa

Shane Vander Hart is a fixture in the Iowa conservative blogosphere.
Image: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Texas Senator, Ted Cruz speaks to the media in Kennesaw, Georgia on Dec. 18 2015.ERIK S. LESSER / EPA

Ted Cruz added to his lineup of Iowa endorsements on Monday, pulling in the support of Shane Vander Hart, a fixture in the Iowa conservative blogosphere.

The backing of the "Caffeinated Thoughts" editor adds onto a list of Iowa allies that now includes U.S. Rep. Steve King, radio host Steve Deace and social-conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats.

Vander Hart, who started the conservative blog in 2006, had previously endorsed Bobby Jindal in early November, but the Louisiana governor dropped out of the race just 11 days later.

But with just a month until the caucus, Vander Hart gave out his second endorsement of the cycle, noting the need for a Republican to stave off Donald Trump from winning the nomination.

“As we’re getting close to the caucus, Cruz has probably the best ground game going,” Vander Hart told NBC News on Tuesday. “And I’m concerned about Donald Trump – I think [Cruz] is the one that can derail his campaign.”

He continued: “It’s an endorsement for Cruz, but I also want someone who can beat Trump as well.”

Vander Hart threw his weight behind Rick Santorum in 2012, but the former Pennsylvania senator’s struggles to gain traction in the Hawkeye State continue.

“A month is an eternity, but I don’t see Huckabee or Santorum going any higher than they have,” Vander Hart said.

He said Marco Rubio is the only candidate that he foresees having a shot at making a last-minute, successful run in Iowa, suggesting the Florida senator “could certainly go up in the polls if the establishment begins to coalesce around him.”

In a statement, Cruz noted Vander Hart’s endorsement as coming “at a crucial juncture” of the campaign.

“[The growing support in Iowa] is a testament to the hard work of our dedicated volunteers on the ground, taking our optimistic message to their friends and communities every day,” Cruz said in the statement.