Cain campaign is beefing up its national security team

In August, consultant and former Navy officer J.D. Gordon was ready to launch a foreign policy and national security think tank called the Center for Security and Diplomacy . . . and then he got a call from Herman Cain.

“We were a few days away from making CSD’s Web site public. Now most of the think thank is being absorbed by the Cain campaign,” Gordon told The Cable in an interview. The Cain team saw Gordon on one of his many Fox News appearances, during which he served as an expert commentator. He joined the Cain campaign Sept. 1 as vice president for communications and senior adviser for foreign policy and national security.

Now, about two months into his time with Cain, Gordon is leading the expansion of the campaign’s national security infrastructure, drawing heavily from the think tank he had been developing before Cain brought him on.

Several of the people involved in the Center for Security and Diplomacy have joined the Cain campaign. Robert Brockhaus, who was community relations manager at the Heritage Foundation and one of the founders of CSD, is the campaign’s assistant vice president for communications. CSD’s Matt Martini, a legislative correspondent for then-congressman Mark Green (R-Wis.), is the campaign’s new assistant vice president for communications handling TV and radio booking.

Mark Pfeifle, who served as deputy assistant for strategic communications in President George W. Bush’s National Security Council, was a CSD board member. He’s now senior adviser for the Cain campaign, in charge of rapid response. Roger Pardo-Maurer is another CSD board member now advising the Cain campaign. He was deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere affairs from 2001 to 2006.

Manny Rosales, also a CSD board director, was assistant administrator at the Small Business Administration during the Bush presidency and then served as deputy director of coalitions at the Republican National Committee under Michael S. Steele, in charge of Hispanic outreach. Rosales is advising Cain on immigration.

On international economics, Cain is taking advice from Joseph Humire, a former Marine who is a senior fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which works to establish free-market think tanks in foreign countries.

The Cain team knows its candidate has some studying to do on foreign policy.

After Cain announced this month that he did not know the name of the president of “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan,” the campaign made a list of names of more than 20 foreign leaders for Cain to commit to memory.

“He was just trying to make a joke out of the fact that he doesn’t know the name of every world leader right now,” Gordon said. “He was trying to disarm that before it was inflated into an issue.”

Podesta hands over reins

Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta will be stepping down as the group’s day-to-day manager and handing over the reins to CAP’s chief operating officer, Neera Tanden.

Podesta, who founded CAP in 2003 and served as head of President Obama’s transition team, will remain chairman of CAP’s board and will be a full-time employee at the think tank, focusing on long-term strategic planning and new projects. The change in management will take effect Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Podesta has been working at the State Department unpaid, one day a week, since last month, a State Department official told The Cable. His role as senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had not been previously reported.

Rice vs. Cheney

According to Condoleezza Rice’s soon-to-be-released book, “No Higher Honor,” during the Israel-Lebanon war in 2006, she was “practically begging” the Israelis to back off their assault on Beirut. She thought it was undermining the fragile government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

But Vice President Richard B. Cheney had been dealing with the Israelis behind her back, expressing support for continuing the war. Rice was furious. When Cheney told Bush openly that he thought the war should continue, Rice told the president, “Do that and you are dead in the Middle East.” In this case, Bush sided with Rice.