Yesterday the space advocacy organization Tea Party in Space (TPIS) formally endorsed Newt Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination. “Newt Gingrich is the only credible candidate in this primary race in Florida who has any credibility when it comes to America’s future in space,” TPIS president Andrew Gasser said in a statement. The organization said it based that endorsement of an evaluation of the candidates’ space policy positions and a grading on “tea party core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets”, where Gingrich was ranked as “superior”.
Although the statement made no mention of the other GOP candidates, a previous post on the TPIS web site by Gasser criticized a lack of vision by Mitt Romney in his policy, in large part because one of those people advising the Romney campaign on space is former NASA administrator Mike Griffin. “While we all agree that Dr. Griffin is well educated in physics and engineering, his track record suggests he is not grasping the economic condition of this country,” Gasser writes. “Moreover, NASA was crippled under Dr. Griffin’s leadership.”
While TPIS has come out strongly for Gingrich in advance of today’s primary in Florida, other space organizations have remained noncommittal. The National Space Society said it was “pleased” Gingrich released a space policy, the organization said in a press release last week. The organization stopped short of formally endorsing that policy, but noted the plan “contained many details that align with NSS goals”. The NSS asked other candidates to release their own policies (the release is dated January 26, a day before Romney’s space speech.)
The Space Frontier Foundation also didn’t formally endorse Gingrich’s policies, citing its desire to remain non-partisan, but the organization was clearly pleased with its emphasis on space settlement. “The SFF applauds Speaker Gingrich for embracing space settlement and is celebrating that support for space settlement has grown to include large parts of NASA, the current administration, and Speaker Gingrich,” it stated in a release Thursday. The organization was less welcoming of Romney’s plan, though, citing, like TPIS, Griffin’s association with the Romney campaign. Recalling Romney’s comment in Thursday’s debate that he would have “fired” any executive that came to him with a multi-hundred-billion plan for a lunar base, the Foundation’s executive director, Will Watson, said, “Confronted with Mike Griffin’s plan to return to the Moon, Mitt Romney would have fired Griffin and rightly so.” The Foundation called for the Romney campaign to “cast a much wider net for space policy advisors”.
While these organizations tend to show more support for Gingrich than for Romney, it doesn’t appear it will do the former Speaker of the House much good: latest polls showed that Romney was headed to a sizable victory in Florida today.