Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich joked Thursday that a proposal to allow a moon colony U.S. statehood was actually inspired by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Gingrich said during Thursday evening’s CNN-sponsored GOP primary debate that he was merely reacting to Santorum’s jab that “grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich.”
Debate moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Gingrich to explain his idea that U.S. moon colonists could apply for statehood.
Gingrich informed supporters on Florida’s “space coast” earlier in the week of his desire for Americans to return to space out of “a romantic belief that it really is part of our destiny.”
“Speaker Gingrich, I want you to clarify what you said yesterday in that speech you delivered on space,” said Blitzer. “You said that you would support a lunar colony or lunar base and that if 13,000 Americans were living there, they would be able to apply for U.S. statehood from the moon.”
The former speaker, before linking the idea to President John F. Kennedy’s call for Americans to “choose to go to the moon,” first clarified that his comments were in response to Santorum.
“I was meeting Rick’s desire for grandiose ideas,” Gingrich joked Thursday evening.
“It is really important to go back and look at what John F. Kennedy said in May of 1961 when he said, “we will go to the moon in this decade,” continued Gingrich. “No American had orbited the earth. The technology didn’t exist. And a generation of young people went into science and engineering and technology and they were tremendously excited. And they had a future.”