(CNSNews.com) - Former Republican presidential contender Gary Bauer will endorse John McCain's candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination at a rally Wednesday afternoon in South Carolina, according to McCain's campaign office in South Carolina.
A source with McCain's staff said the Arizona senator was informed of Bauer's decision earlier Wednesday.
Bauer's endorsement comes three days before the pivotal South Carolina primary, which could prove to be decisive regardless of the outcome.
Analysts and observers note that a victory for McCain would add to the momentum he generated after winning the New Hampshire primary. On the other hand, a win in South Carolina for Texas Governor George W. Bush would add to Bush's previous victories in Iowa and Delaware, and it could take the wind out of McCain's political sails.
Bauer, the former head of the Family Research Council dropped out of the GOP race on February 4 after poor showings in the early Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.
He campaigned strongly on the issue of relations with China and the communist country's human rights policy. He is one of the GOP's more vocal opponents of abortion, saying as he dropped out of the presidential race, "On this issue [abortion], I will not be moved; on this issue I will not go away."
Bauer's campaign theme of "Advancing American Values," included initiatives to defend all human life, enact a 16 percent flat tax, and a "principled" foreign policy, according to the former candidate's Internet web site.
The Bauer endorsement could give a boost to McCain on the issue of abortion, a subject for which he's been criticized by rival Alan Keyes as not being sufficiently pro-life.
But Bauer has been critical of Bush's position on abortion, saying in December that he wanted an answer from Bush on what he called a "very fundamental question; was Roe v Wade wrongly decided or correctly decided," a reference to the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US.
Bauer also questioned Bush's conservative credentials, saying to the Texas governor during a January debate in New Hampshire, "After four debates, I'm getting more and more worried about whether you're serious in defending conservative values."
Bauer's positions on health care and social security have also drawn criticism -- from his colleagues in Republican circles.
"It's amazing to see someone who is supposedly a conservative Republican going to the (American Association of Retired Persons) and denouncing fellow Republicans for wanting to destroy Social Security," said Mike Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute, during a December, 1999 interview with CNSNews.com. "Right now, Bauer would be more at home in the Democratic primary than the Republican."