Reuters reported earlier today that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich may reassess his presidential candidacy depending on the outcome of today’s primary in Delaware, where he has devoted the most resources among the five states holding primaries today. Gingrich’s odds of winning the nomination are now astronomical, as Mitt Romney has become the presumptive nominee. Gingrich had vowed to stay in the race until the Republican convention in August, but his campaign finances have become a concern.
So it’s timely, then, that Gingrich’s views on space policy are getting attention for what might be the last time as a presidential candidate. In an op-ed published late Monday by Bloomberg, Jeffrey Goldberg recalls Gingrich’s proposals to establish a permanent settlement on the Moon as he sees Discovery and its 747 carrier plane fly over Washington last week. He considers the flyby “elegiac” because “the end of the shuttle program marks the first time since the dawn of the Space Age that the U.S. government has no immediate plan to launch humans into space.” (It’s not clear if Goldberg is unaware of NASA’s ongoing plans to develop human spaceflight capability, or past interruptions in those capabilities, such as the nearly six-year gap after Apollo-Soyuz.)
Goldberg concludes “Newt is right” on space and proceeds to call him. Gingrich, Goldberg says, “seemed happy to talk about space and the terrible mistake the Obama administration made by canceling the Constellation program, which was meant to get Americans back to the moon.” (That assessment seems curious, as Gingrich co-authored an op-ed in February 2010 praising the administration’s plans.)
Ginhrich told Goldberg he regrets not addressing the criticism his January space policy proposals generated from Romney and fellow candidate Rick Santorum: “If I had been clever, I would have said to Romney, ‘You would have fired Christopher Columbus and John F. Kennedy because they were proposing daring and large things. They were proposing to go out and discover entire new worlds, and they did.’” Gingrich still believes there will be a “human colony” on the Moon someday, built if not by Americans then by the Chinese. But any such development now seems extremely unlikely to be done during a Gingrich Administration.