Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum Fight Over the Moon Base

Yahoo Contributor Network

Newt Gingrich's moon base seems to be the issue that refuses to die. It had been assumed that once the Florida primary was over, the political conversation would move on to other issues. But political candidates are still talking about the moon.

Newt Gingrich on "Meet the Press"

Gingrich appeared on "Meet the Press." After discussing a variety of other issues, the conversation turned to the moon base proposal. Gingrich defended the idea on two fronts. First, he suggested that establishing a moon base was part of a "pro growth" agenda, something that would help stimulate economic activity and technological innovation. He mentioned Russia and China have lunar efforts, which could become an untenable situation if the U.S. held back. He also denied he was proposing large increases in government spending. The thing would be done by reforming NASA and engaging the private sector. Gingrich expressed amazement that his proposal was receiving so much criticism. John Kennedy's man on the moon within a decade got a lot more respect, the former Speaker suggested.

Rick Santorum writes against the moon base

Rick Santorum wrote an op-ed in Red State attacking Gingrich's moon base proposal. He suggested Gingrich was pandering for Florida votes. He added a moon base would cost billions of dollars, was grandiose and would saddle America's children with more debt. Santorum said the American space program should pursue more "realistic" goals, including encouraging partnerships between NASA and the private sector to grow the economy and create technological innovation.

Bottom Line

Gingrich has been discussing the importance of space for the U.S. for a number of decades, long before the Florida primary, devoting a chapter of it in the 1980s book he co-wrote, "Window of Opportunity." He has discussed space prizes, a center point of his moon base proposal, for almost as long, mentioning it in his book, mentioning them in a more recent book, "Real Change."

Nevertheless, if a new poll by Poll Position is any indication, Santorum and the other major Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, are getting the better of the argument by attacking Gingrich's moon base. Respondents of all political persuasions oppose Gingrich's moon base proposal.

Mark R. Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo and The Last Moonwalker. He has written on space subjects for a variety of periodicals, including The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and The Weekly Standard.

View Comments