Tim LaHaye, 'Left Behind' Author, Endorses Gingrich, Says Jerry Falwell Backs Newt From Grave (UPDATE)

'Left Behind' Author Endorses Gingrich, Says Jerry Falwell Backs Newt From Grave

WASHINGTON -- South Carolina presidential primaries are always interesting, and on Friday, Newt Gingrich's campaign touted a new endorsement that certainly fit that bill.

The former House speaker was endorsed by evangelical author and pastor Tim LaHaye, who is best-known for writing a series of books called the "Left Behind" series, an apocalyptic vision of what some Christians believe will happen when true believers in Jesus Christ experience the "rapture" to heaven and nonbelievers are left behind for a period of "tribulation."

The 16 "Left Behind" books have reportedly sold 65 million copies and have been turned into three movies and three video games.

The Gingrich campaign released a letter that it said LaHaye had written to South Carolina pastors ahead of the state's Jan. 21 primary, asking them to "prayerfully consider" supporting Gingrich.

LaHaye called Gingrich "a proven conservative who has the best chance of replacing the present occupant of the White House." LaHaye, who is taking a post as national co-chair of Gingrich's Faith Leaders Coalition, also said that Gingrich would "return this country to the constitutional principles that God has chosen to bless for over two hundred years."

The most interesting portion of LaHaye's endorsement, however, came when the Los Angeles resident claimed that the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, one of the best-known evangelical leaders for most of the past few decades, said before his death in 2007 that he thought Gingrich should be president.

"As my friend, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell told me personally, 'Speaker Newt Gingrich is the most qualified man in America to run as president of the United States,'" LaHaye wrote.

Gingrich said he was "honored" to have LaHaye's endorsement.

"His work as both a minister and author is truly unmatched," Gingrich said.

UPDATE: 2:52 p.m. -- The Huffington Post reached out to Jerry Falwell Jr., Falwell's son, for comment about the use of his father's name by LaHaye. Falwell Jr. is chancellor at Liberty University, the college founded in 1971 by his father, which now has 12,000 students on campus in Lynchburg, Va.

Falwell Jr.'s spokesman, Johnnie Moore, sent along the following statement: "Chancellor Falwell's position is simply that his father was a public figure, and there's no law against quoting him."

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