Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson praised Judge Roy Moore, a Senate candidate in Alabama, hours ahead of President Trump's visit to Alabama to stump for Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala.
In a statement, Carson called Moore a "fine man of proven character and integrity," and someone who "reflects the Judeo-Christian values" needed to "make America great again" — Trump's 2016 campaign motto. He also said he was "delighted" that Moore was running.
"Judge Moore is a fine man of proven character and integrity, who I have come to respect over the years," Carson said in a statement. "I was delighted to hear he is running for the US Senate. He is truly someone who reflects the Judeo-Christian values that were so important to the establishment of our country.
"It is these values that we must return to in order to make America great again," Carson continued. "I wish him well and hope everyone will make sure they vote on Tuesday."
The statement came as a surprise Friday only hours before Trump was set to take the stage in Huntsville, Ala., to support Strange, who is trailing Moore in most polls ahead of Tuesday's runoff primary election.
Due to the Hatch Act, Carson couldn't offer a formal endorsement or be referred to in the statement by his government title.
Armstrong Williams, a longtime Carson confidant, told the Washington Examiner that the former neurosurgeon cut a video for Moore last week and "thinks the world of him." However, he maintained the kind words were not an endorsement.
Williams also noted that the two are longtime friends and that Carson "does not abandon his friends."
While Trump is backing Strange, most of his allies and supporters are backing Moore, who twice has been kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court as chief justice. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sebastian Gorka, a former White House staffer, held a rally in support of Moore Thursday night after the two candidates squared off in their lone debate prior to Tuesday's election.