By National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
As he prepared to debate his fellow GOP candidates on national security matters, former House speaker Newt Gingrich unveiled a national security advisory team Tuesday that features some recognizable names from past administrations.
R. James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA under President Bill Clinton, and Robert McFarlane, who served as national security adviser for President Ronald Reagan, are part of a team of 13 advisers who will counsel Gingrich on a variety of national security topics as the campaign goes forward.
"I have depended on the counsel of this world-class group of experts throughout my career and I am honored that they have decided to be with me as we work to ensure that the United States remains the safest, strongest, and freest country in the world," Gingrich said in a written statement announcing the team.
Herman Pircher, the founding president of the American Foreign Policy Council, will serve as the team director. Pircher also served as a staffer to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and former Sen. Roger Jepsen, R-Iowa. Also on the team is Bill Schneider, a former under secretary of state in the Reagan administration, along with David Wurmser and Stephen Yates, who both served in the George W. Bush administration. Both Wurmser and Yates were senior foreign policy advisors to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
"Gingrich has been one of the most outspoken national advocates for strong U.S.-Israel relations for over three decades," Wurmser, who will advise Gingrich on Middle East issues, said in a written statement released by the campaign. "He is firm in his conviction that Americans and Israelis have a number of shared goals and interests, and we must work together to protect Israel from a number of existential threats."
Ken de Graffenreid, a former U.S. naval aviator and intelligence officer who held senior positions on the National Security Council and at the Pentagon in the Reagan and second Bush administrations, is also part of the team. Norman Bailey, also a member of Reagan's national security staff, was also named to the team by Gingrich.
Tina Ramirez, who led efforts on global religious freedom issues alongside the Bush and Obama administrations, and served as a foreign policy adviser to a number of members of Congress, will serve as another national security adviser to Gingrich. She is joined by Ilan Berman, John Fonte, Kiron Skinner, and Abraham Wagner.
In his statement, Gingrich said he looks forward to drawing on his team's "vast knowledge and experience as we assert our vision of an exceptional America that, contrary to what Barack Obama may believe, will continue to be both the world's leading power and most assiduous defender of freedom for generations to come."
Several members of the team will accompany Gingrich to the Tuesday evening's debate in Washington, moderated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The debate is being produced in partnership with the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.