Five days before the Iowa caucuses for presidential nominees occur, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed GOP candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday (Jan. 26), bestowing him with the blessing of one of the evangelical community's biggest names from Falwell's late father's televangelism.
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."
Falwell's move has long been expected since he has showered praise on Trump recently, reports The Washington Post.
Falwell said he selected Trump because he believes the billionaire businessman could "lead our country to greatness again," Trump's campaign representatives said in a statement.
The endorsement came after Falwell introduced Trump before a speech he gave at the private, nonprofit Christian university in Lynchburg on Feb. 18. Read The Gospel Herald coverage: Liberty University: Donald Trump Addresses Students on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Vows to 'Protect Christianity.'
At the university's convocation, Falwell said he saw many similarities between Trump and his own father, particularly the inclination to "speak his mind." He said Trump was a charitable person, and also shared several stories of how Trump supposedly provided financial backing to people in need, stories that Falwell said had not been made public before that day.
Donald J. Trump hit a new high in the race for the Republican nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, with more than 4-in-10 Republican voters nationwide saying they back the billionaire.
MSNBC reported Tuesday that Trump maintains his lead with 39 percent support, which is 20 points higher than any other GOP candidate.
"It is truly an honor to receive Jerry's endorsement. Not only is he a high-quality person, with a wonderful family, whom I have great respect for -- I also consider him a very good friend and his support means so much to me," Trump said in a statement.
The endorsement comes as Republican rival Ted Cruz is attacking Trump over his past comments on hot-button social issues such as 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."