WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Mike Huckabee’s underdog campaign got a shot in the arm Thursday night when he won the endorsement of Focus on the Family founder and evangelical icon James Dobson.
“Obviously, the governor faces an uphill struggle, given the delegates already committed to Sen. [John] McCain,” he said. “Nevertheless, I believe he is our best remaining choice for President of the United States.”
Dobson – who said he held his endorsement until Mitt Romney suspended his presidential bid – has been a public admirer of Huckabee, citing the former Arkansas governor’s win in the Iowa caucuses as evidence religious voters are still a force to be reckoned with in the political arena.
“The results of the Iowa caucuses reveal that conservative Christians remain a powerful force in American politics. That had to be a great shock to those on the far left,” Dobson said in a statement shortly after the Iowa vote.
He also took aim at "media elites" for dismissing the influence of Christian voters, and said Huckabee's win "was evidence of an energized and highly motivated conservative community."
Focus on the Family sends Dobson’s views to millions through his daily radio broadcast, and sends its voter guides to millions more, thanks to a massive database that rivals those of any presidential campaign.
Dobson had not officially endorsed any presidential candidate until his Thursday statement – but had issued several anti-endorsements over the past few months, explaining to his followers why he could not support potential Republican nominees Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and John McCain.
Dobson endorsed President Bush’s re-election in 2004.
Dobson, who is often visited by GOP officials at Focus on the Family’s vast Colorado Springs campus, emphasized the fact that he was speaking as a private citizen – a standard disclaimer he attaches to all his political pronouncements. He praised Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, for his stands on social issues, saying the former governor’s views on marriage, the role of religion and the “sanctity of human life… resonate deeply with me and many others.”
“That is why I will support Gov. Huckabee through the remaining primaries, and will vote for him in the general election if he should get the nomination,” he said.