Editor's note: A video (below) from a Mars Society member (complete with logos) managed to get in on the CNN/YouTube debate among Republican presidential candidates. In responding, Gov. Huckabee was rather supportive of space exploration and its benefits to our society and economy. He even wanted to send Hillary Clinton to Mars. Rep. Tom Tancredo said that there is not enough money to spend on a Mars mission (transcript below).
Editor's note: According to a NASA Watch reader, the person who submitted this question, Steve Nielson, has a pro-Huckabee website.
"Steve Nielson: My name is Steve Nielson. And this question comes to you from Denver, Colorado. JFK's vision put a man on the moon from a nonexistent space program in about seven years. The new vision for space exploration has provided about 15 years for that same feat. Meanwhile, Congress is pulling funding for human-to-Mars research altogether. Is there a candidate amongst you willing to take a pledge on behalf of the Mars Society of sending an American to the surface of Mars by 2020? If not, what is your vision for human space exploration?
Cooper: Governor Huckabee?
NASA pumps some -- let's see, how many -- $5 billion into Florida's economy.
Huckabee: Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program -- whether it's these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight.
Some of you were late because you didn't have one, by the way. Or whether it's the medical technologies that saved many of our lives or the lives or our families, it's the direct result of the space program, and we need to put more money into science and technology and exploration. Now, whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But I'll tell you what: If we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars.
Cooper: Congressman Tancredo, 30 seconds, please.
Tancredo: The question is a serious one and it deserves a serious answer, and that is this: Look, we've been -- how many times up here, how many questions have dealt with the issue of deficit spending, the debt out of control? And yet, we have somebody saying, "But would you spend more money on going to Mars?" And the suggestion that we need to spend more money on space exploration. This is it, folks. That's why we have such incredible problems with our debt, because everybody's trying to be everything to all people. We can't afford some things, and by the way, going to Mars is one of them."