Feeling confident about a likely victory in Georgia’s Republican presidential primary (which indeed happened), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich paid a visit Tuesday to Alabama, which holds its primary in a week. And not just anywhere in Alabama: he went to Huntsville, speaking before a few hundred people at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center there, leading to headlines like “Newt Gingrich goes to space camp”. (While the center is home to Space Camp, Gingrich spoke in the main part of the museum, so apparently he skipped a chance to ride in the multi-axis trainer.)
In that setting, Gingrich did talk about space, although not at the same length or with the same level of detail as he did in Florida in January. “I want to restate, far from backing off, I want to restate, America has a destiny in space,” he said, as reported by CNN.com. “It is a part of who we are. We are not going to back off from John Kennedy’s challenge and we are not going to go timidly into the night allowing the Chinese to dominate the future of space.”
“I said we should have an aggressive space program and got blasted for it,” he said, in another account of his speech by local TV station WAFF, a reference to that Florida speech. “This isn’t the last phase of the space program. This is the launching pad for the future.” Gingrich didn’t go into the same level of detail as his Florida speech, such as creating a permanent base on the Moon by 2020, but did emphasize the need for taking non-traditional approaches. “I was proposing that we find a public-private partnership”, he said, local station WHNT reported. “That we use prizes and that we encourage every entrepreneurial talent in America to become excited and be involved.”
The strongest rhetoric, though, may have come not from Gingrich himself but campaign press secretary R. C. Hammond, as reported by POLITICO. “Here’s my comment to all those naysayers and critics out there, okay: The same folks who mock Newt Gingrich for having vision in science are the same people who don’t want to cure cancer, the same people who are content to live with Alzheimer’s, the same people who don’t want to fix our public school systems,” he told reporters.