WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson will be endorsed by a leading anti-abortion group on Tuesday in a move that could bolster his support among conservatives.
The National Right to Life Committee plans to announce on Tuesday that it will endorse the candidacy of the former Tennessee senator, an official familiar with the decision said on Monday.
Thompson, who was campaigning across the early-voting state of Iowa, declined to confirm the new backing but said he had the group’s support in the past and would welcome it again.
“It would mean that those who look at these matters the most and consider them the most carefully know my record and know me and would be supportive of me,” he said.
Despite his conservative credentials, Thompson has had trouble narrowing the gap behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in national polls and lags in the early primary voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, while holding his own in South Carolina.
Conservative Republicans have expressed concerns about finding a strict anti-abortion candidate, pointing to Giuliani’s personal support of abortion rights.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also has had trouble winning over conservatives because he previously supported abortion rights but later changed his position.
Some Republicans have considered seeking a third-party candidate, and the Christian right has split over who to endorse for the Republican nomination ahead of the November 2008 election.
Christian evangelist Pat Robertson endorsed Giuliani, Moral Majority co-founder Paul Weyrich backed Romney and conservative Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback threw his support to Arizona Sen. John McCain after dropping out of the presidential race.
(Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Kay Henderson in Des Moines)