WASHINGTON (CNN) - A former appeals court judge venerated in conservative circles for spearheading the movement’s takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention endorsed Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign Friday.
The nod from former Texas judge Paul Pressler could provide a major boost for Thompson's presidential run among social conservatives, especially in the early-voting state of South Carolina.
In a release from the Thompson campaign, Pressler calls the former Tennessee senator "the consistent conservative in the presidential race" and "the most electable." The statement says that Pressler is "revered among Southern Baptists as a warrior and hero."
Last month, Pressler questioned the conservative credentials of former Arkansas governor and current presidential contender Mike Huckabee, telling the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund that “I know of no conservative he appointed while he headed the Arkansas Baptist Convention."
Pressler wrote in his autobiography that he turned down a post in the administration of the first President Bush – an offer that stirred controversy among Baptist moderates – because he wished to avoid the confirmation process and the "personal vendetta in which liberals engage to destroy innocent people."
Louisiana College, a school affiliated with the SBC, has said it plans to open a law school named in Pressler’s honor that promotes a “biblical worldview” – one of a recent wave of similarly-oriented institutions, including law schools at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and Pat Robertson’s Regent University.
- CNN’s Rebecca Sinderbrand