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Last Republican Debate Before Florida Primary: Newt Gingrich And Mitt Romney Spar Over Moon Colony

Submitted by on January 27, 2012 – 11:40 am2 Comments

The Republican debate took a galactic turn last night when Newt Gingrich was asked to explain his idea for establishing a moon colony. Amidst heated debates on healthcare, immigration, the economy, and other hot-button issues, the candidates took time to seriously argue the merits of establishing a US community in space- giving the night’s perceived winner, Mitt Romney, yet another chance to bash Gingrich’s inconsistencies on the campaign trail.

Earlier in the week, Gingrich enthralled Florida voters by promising to establish a settlement on the moon by the end of his second term; he further elaborated that when it had 13,000 residents, it could apply for US statehood.

NASA’s headquarters and space mission launch site are in Cape Canaveral, FL. The space agency is a major employer in Florida, a state especially hard-hit by the recession; a central eastern stretch of the state is known as the Space Coast.

The grandiose claim was also likely an attempt by Gingrich to present his self-imposed image as the “bold ideas” candidate.

Gingrich was put on the spot at last night’s debate when a question submitted by Twitter asked how he would pay for the new program, highlighting the tension between “bold ideas” and the small government theme that has dominated this primary. Gingrich claimed that his program would be up to “90 percent” in the private sector, and suggested that prize money would drive private competition and innovation.

The other candidates were highly skeptical of Gingrich’s plan. Citing his 25 years in private industry, Romney said corporate America had no interest in spending a fortune on space travel. “If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired’”.

(Gingrich practically handed Romney this opportunity to flaunt his business experience, which has recently been quite a liability; although it still probably would have been best for Romney not to remind voters about firing people.)

Romney went on to bash Gingrich for making similar grand promises for major spending in every primary state, giving a detailed list of programs Gingrich has proposed in South Carolina and New Hampshire, drawing applause from the audience. Gingrich replied that candidates should learn about the needs of each state.

Ron Paul remarked he would like to send a few politicians to the moon.

Rick Santorum, who turned in another strong debate performance, criticized the program as irresponsible in the middle of an economic downturn.

What do you think? Should space travel be a priority for the US and for this election?

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