A leading figure in the conservative and evangelical world, Jerry Falwell Jr., on Monday gave leading GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., an endorsement by encouraging him to run for the White House in the 2016 election.

Falwell, who took charge of Virginia's fast-growing Liberty University after his father died six years ago, introduced the Kentucky conservative with praise during an event for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

“The more I have learned about Rand Paul, and especially after meeting him this morning, the more I thought to myself, ‘I sure hope he runs for president,’ ” Falwell said.

The Lynchburg News & Advance newspaper said that he spent five minutes introducing Paul, an unusually long time, calling him “the type of politician our founders hoped would lead America.”

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.