Gingrich to Channel JFK This Week in Florida

Newt Gingrich. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich intends to give a major address on space policy while campaigning in the Sunshine State this week.

“I’ll be at the Space Coast in Florida this week giving a speech, a visionary speech, on the United States going back into space in the John F. Kennedy tradition rather than the current bureaucracy,” he said during an appearance on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” program Sunday morning.

The former Speaker of the House has been critical of NASA’s bureaucracy and favored commercial activities in space. His 1984 book, Window of Opportunity, included a chapter about space.

Gingrich is coming off a surprise win on Saturday over Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary. Romney had earlier criticized Gingrich’s support for human settlements on the moon.

If you watch the video, it sounds like Gingrich is going to be making many speeches about a lot of weighty issues in Florida. In the first minute of his appearance, he mentions no less than five subjects, including space, health care, housing, economic growth, Cuba and Latin America.

Gingrich has got lots of ideas (“big solutions for a big country”), but it’s never quite clear which ones have priority, which might be sacrificed when political compromise is required, and how all these things would fit into the overall budget plan. This is true of everyone who runs for office to different degrees, but it is especially relevant to Gingrich given the sheer volume of ideas he puts out and the ambitious — and quite possibility unfeasible — nature of many of them.  Romney and other opponents have criticized him as being erratic, a criticism that plagued him during his four years as House speaker.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t sound like a Gingrich presidency would be any less focused on commercial solutions than the Obama Administration. Other than mocking Gingrich’s moon base ideas, Romney hasn’t said much of anything about space, indicating that it has a relatively low priority in the campaign. We’ll see how that changes in the run-up to the Florida primary on Jan. 31.