Space exploration is star-crossed on campaign trail

September 10, 2012

By Guy Taylor-The Washington Times

Kicking off the campaign season in early 2004, President Bush had two big ideas: pursue an immigration bill in Congress, and vow to put a man back on the moon by 2020 as a precursor to “human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.”

But that was eight years ago, before a dismal economy and a disastrous federal budget grounded his celestial ambitions.

Advantageous as it may have been for a standing Republican president to have dreamed of the moon two elections ago, it’s a call unlikely to emerge this campaign season from either President Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Mr. Obama, traveling in Florida on Sunday, did raise the issue by saying he has laid the groundwork for 21st-century space exploration.

Space ambitions get little attention outside of Florida and sometimes don’t play well even inside the state.

Mr. Romney drew laughter during a Republican debate in Florida in January when he proclaimed that he would have fired primary contest rival Newt Gingrich for proposing the establishment of a human colony on the moon.

“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,’” Mr. Romney quipped. “The idea that corporate America wants to go off to the moon and build a colony there, it may be a big idea, but it’s not a good idea.”

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