James Dobson, the prominent social conservative leader and founder of Focus on the Family, formally endorsed former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) for president Thursday.

The move, which had been expected for days, comes two days before the pivotal South Carolina primary. It also comes as former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is vying with Santorum to round up the support of social conservatives, particularly backers of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who dropped out of the presidential race Thursday morning and announced his support of Gingrich.

“While there are other GOP candidates who are worthy of our support, Sen. Santorum is the man of the hour,” Dobson said in a statement Thursday. “His knowledge of international politics, especially Israel and the turmoil in the Middle East, is highly relevant to the dangerous world in which we live. This is why I am endorsing former Senator Rick Santorum for president of the United States, and urge my countrymen to join us in this campaign.”

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