Steve Deace, an influential conservative radio host in Iowa, has backed Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, he announced Friday evening.

The coveted endorsement comes as Gingrich is attempting to reverse his slide in the polls in Iowa, where just weeks ago he was the clear front-runner, ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses on Jan. 3.

“This is a time for leadership, not warm fuzzies,” Deace wrote in an essay declaring his endorsement for the former House speaker. “The future is at stake, and we may never get another environment with the country so prepared to challenge the system as we have right now.”

The endorsement also gives Gingrich an opportunity to quell suspicions that social conservatives and evangelicals in Iowa, who make up a substantial portion of caucus-goers, are reluctant to support Gingrich due to his acknowledged infidelities and multiple marriages.

“I understand Newt has taken positions and done things in his personal life I do not agree with,” Deace said. “But to his credit he has come on my radio program and been very transparent about those things, and has shown humility and a willingness to be transparent in the process.”