ORLANDO, FL - According to Bob Vander Plaats, a key Iowa conservative, evangelical supporters and leaners are abandoning current GOP presidential front-runner Rick Perry over Immigration, and the comments he made over the last two Florida debates, including Thursday night's Fox News-Google Debate in Orlando, when the Texas governor again defended his state's policy that aids children of illegal immigrants.
" If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state from no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own. I don't think you have a heart, " Perry said.
Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa Family Policy Center, was surprised that Perry made no attempt during his CPAC remarks Friday to adjust or explain himself on immigration after Thursday night's assertion that those who disagree with him on this topic ( like many conservatives) 'have no heart".
Vander Plaats expected Perry to win the caucus and said there was lots of evangelical support only 3 weeks ago, but now he is suggesting that Iowa could warm to another Republican contender. He argues that if Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich can identify resources, or if Herman Cain and Ron Paul can convince people they are electable, or if Michelle Bachmann can regain momentum, the Hawkeye state, and its caucus could be within their reach.
"There is a huge opening in Iowa. Right now the first in the nation Caucus state is completely up for grabs," Vander Plaats said to Fox News Channel.
*Fox News Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron contributed to this report.