AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As many voters across the country were casting votes in Super Tuesday States, Newt Gingrich was talking about space exploration in Rocket City, U.S.A.
“What we're in today is a launching pad -- this isn't the end state for the space program, this is the launching pad for the next phase of excitement and invention,” Gingrich told the several hundred people gathered at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center -- home of Space Camp.
The former House speaker, who is hoping to win big in Georgia Tuesday night and start to relaunch his presidential campaign, defended his dreams for America’s space program despite criticisms from his GOP rivals.
“I want to restate -- far from backing off -- I want to restate: America has a destiny in space,” Gingrich said. “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.”
While campaigning on Florida’s Space Coast late in January, Gingrich called for a creation of a colony on the moon by 2020. His comments resulted in some mockery by late night comedians and questions by people in his own party but the former speaker still choose to gave another speech on space the day 11 states cast votes in this tight Republican primary.
Gingrich spokesman, R.C. Hammond, told reporters he has one thing to say to all the “naysayers.”
“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, are the same people who look at a problem and say, 'Well, I can live with that, lets not worry about fixing that.' They're the same critics that created the tea party by turning the Republican Party away from it's actual values,” he said.
Hartselle, Alabama resident Mary Hatfield told NBC News she is leaning toward voting for Gingrich in the primary next week because of his “wealth of experience,” noting she is glad the speaker came to talk about space today.
“I think it should be a part of the discussion,” she said. “There are other things more crucial to our country right now, yes, but I think we have to be part of space exploration because someone is going to do it if we don’t.”