Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump on Tuesday, giving the Republican presidential frontrunner an influential stamp of approval from one of the country’s best known evangelical leaders.
Falwell, the son of a famed Christian televangelist, has spoken glowingly about Trump and his endorsement does not come as a surprise. But coming just days before the Iowa caucuses, the support may help boost Trump among the state’s influential evangelical caucus goers.
In a statement, Falwell called Trump, “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.”
The endorsement, first reported by the Washington Post, comes as rival Ted Cruz is attacking Trump over his past comments on hot-button social issues like abortion. The Cruz campaign released its second ad attacking Trump on Monday, featuring a 1999 Meet the Press interview where Trump says he is “pro-choice in every respect.”
Also on Tuesday, Trump received the endorsement of Maricopa County, Ariz. sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known nationally for his tough stance on undocumented immigrants. Arpaio calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and his tactics to combat illegal immigration have been the subject of a number of lawsuits.
“I have great respect for Sheriff Arpaio. We must restore law and order on the border and respect the men and women of our police forces,” Trump said in a statement. “I thank him for his support of my policies and candidacy for president.”