"By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American," Gingrich said.
"We will have commercial near-Earth activities that include science, tourism and manufacturing, because it is in our interest to acquire so much experience in space that we clearly have a capacity that the Chinese and the Russians will never come anywhere close to matching," he said.
Gingrich pointed Wednesday to a proposal he made early in his career, which would have allowed American residents of the moon to petition for statehood when they reached a population of 13,000.
Gingrich admitted Wednesday the proposition was “the weirdest thing I’ve ever done,” but said he was still a proponent of the plan.
“I will, as president, encourage the introduction of the ‘Northwest Ordinance’ for space to put a marker down that we want Americans to think boldly about the future, and we want Americans to go out and study hard and work hard and together we're going to unleash the American people to build the country we love,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich was speaking in an area dominated by the U.S. space industry, near Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. He might have been attempting to play off of Florida's long history with the American space program in an attempt to win votes, but even if one takes that very cynical tack, it's clear Gingrich is emphasizing interests that he's held for a very, very long time.