Mr. Qalibaf had been under pressure from fellow hard-liners to fall in behind Mr. Raisi. Two other minor candidates are expected to withdraw before Friday, making the race a showdown between Mr. Raisi and Mr. Rouhani, clerics who hold strongly opposing views of Iran’s future.
Mr. Rouhani said on Monday that he needed a strong victory to gain the mandate to carry out changes leading to more personal freedoms, something he promised in his first campaign but was never able to deliver.
“The leverage of my power does not possess some things, but some things will be possible with a vote of more than 51 percent,” he said during a campaign stop in western Iran.
By contrast, Mr. Raisi has promised that, if elected, he will ensure that the nation becomes more self-sufficient and establishes relations with other countries only “when in the interests of Iran.”
His supporters often call Mr. Rouhani’s political team “traitors” for making the nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers. Mr. Raisi himself has taken the president to task for saying the nuclear deal has prevented war, calling it “a disgraceful sign of weakness.”