A spokeswoman for Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann told MPR News Monday evening that influential Iowa social conservative Bob Vander Plaats did not ask Bachmann to end her presidential campaign and to team up with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Politico, citing unnamed sources, first reported that Vander Plaats, president and CEO of Christian activist group The Family Leader, made that request during a telephone call with Bachmann on Saturday.
Bachmann 2012 spokeswoman Alice Stewart said Vander Plaats "asked her [Bachmann] to merge with another candidate." Stewart said the evangelical leader, "didn't say whether she [Bachmann] should be #1 or #2," just that she should "consider the possibility of merging with another candidate."
Stewart said Vander Plaats did not say which candidate or candidates Bachmann should consider teaming with, but did "hint" that she should look toward Santorum or Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Stewart said Vander Plaats said the best way to beat former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was for the strong faith candidates to merge and go against Romney. Stewart added that Bachmann has no intention of ending her presidential campaign and noted that the Minnesota congresswoman is polling ahead of Santorum.
Earlier Monday, Vander Plaats announced he was personally endorsing Santorum. The Family Leader announced it would not weigh-in on an endorsement.
Despite repeated inquiries from MPR News, Vander Plaats has not made himself available to talk about his endorsement.
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for The Family Leader Julie Summa told MPR News via email just after 9p that Vander Plaats did not ask Bachmann to end her presidential campaign in favor of joining with Santorum as his vice presidential candidate.