Carson praises Moore hours before Trump rallies for his primary opponent

Carson praises Moore hours before Trump rallies for his primary opponent
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Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore's campaign is highlighting support from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBen Carson suggests wife made decision to purchase ,000 dining set The Hill's 12:30 Report Cost of Pruitt's Italy trip rises above ,000 MORE, praise that comes just hours before President Trump is scheduled to stump for Moore's GOP primary runoff opponent, Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeMississippi is new headache for GOP in the South McDaniel makes GOP Senate challenge official in Miss. The Trump Presidency: Year One MORE (R-Ala.).  

"Judge Moore is a fine man of proven character and integrity, who I have come to respect over the years. I was delighted to hear he is running for the US Senate," Carson said in a statement released by Moore's campaign.  

"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. I wish him well and hope everyone will make sure they vote on Tuesday."

Moore will face Strange in a runoff Tuesday for the GOP nomination to serve out the rest of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone FBI chief refuses to deny reports he threatened to resign amid pressure House Judiciary Chair expected to issue DOJ subpoena over Clinton emails as soon as this week MORE's Senate term.

Armstrong Williams, a confidant of Carson's, insisted that the praise doesn't amount to an endorsement. Instead, Williams said Carson's remarks should be seen only as praise for a long-time friend.

Carson, a former neurosurgeon, built his political career as a popular figure in the religious-right community where Moore is also popular. 

Williams added that Carson made the comments last week. 

But Carson's comments raise eyebrows because Trump, Vice President Pence and the White House political organization has come out in full force for Strange in the race's final days. 

Trump is heading to a rally to campaign for Strange on Friday night, while Pence is heading to Alabama on Monday to support Strange.  

Neither Moore's campaign nor Carson's representatives immediately returned a request to elaborate on Carson's comments. 

--Jonathan Easley contributed.