By Frances Robles and Jim Rutenberg
MIAMI BEACH — Senator Ted Cruz was running neck and neck with Donald J. Trump in Iowa just before the caucuses in 2016, but his campaign was expecting a last-minute boost from a powerful endorser, Jerry Falwell Jr.
Mr. Falwell was chancellor of one of the nation’s largest Christian colleges, Liberty University, and a son of the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the televangelist and co-founder of the modern religious right.
Months earlier, Mr. Falwell had provided Liberty’s basketball arena for Mr. Cruz’s formal presidential announcement and required that the student body attend, giving the Texas Republican a guaranteed audience of thousands of cheering young religious conservatives.
With the caucuses now fast approaching, the senator’s father, Rafael Cruz, an evangelical pastor who had taken the lead in wooing Mr. Falwell, alerted the campaign that Mr. Falwell had pledged to endorse his son.
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