Former Iowa Congressman Fred Grandy has endorsed Newt Gingrich’s bid for the White House. 

Grandy, a Republican who represented northwest Iowa in congress for eight years, spoke with Radio Iowa by phone earlier night. (Here’s AUDIO of Grandy’s remarks to open the conversation.)

“Right now, you need somebody who can reign far and wide over domestic and international and national security issues, and the only guy who, I think, can really swing for the fences is Newt,” Grandy said later in the interview.

Grandy made his endorsement public partly because other former and current members of congress who served with Gingrich have been calling the former house speaker unfit for the presidency.

“Most of these guys followed Newt loyally in the late ’90s…He was not necessarily the easiest guy to get a long with, but that was because he was committed to things he believed in,” Grandy told Radio Iowa. “…I would rather have a difficult personality as a capable leader than an accommodating, ‘hail fellow well met’ guy who didn’t know what he’s doing and Newt’s one of those guys that really knows what he’s doing.”

Grandy exited Iowa’s political scene after falling just four percentage points short in his primary challenge of Governor Terry Branstad in 1994. This is the first time in 18 years that Grandy has publicly endorsed a presidential candidate in the primary season, or any candidate seeking votes in Iowa.

Grandy will attend tomorrow night’s candidate debate in Sioux City, which is Grandy’s hometown. Grandy is currently a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. He played “Gopher” on “The Love Boat” for nine seasons, from the late ’70s ’til the mid-80s.