Keith's update: At the first event in Florida today, Newt Gingrich called for setting aside 10% of the NASA budget for prizes (which would be awarded tax free), that there'd be a human base on the Moon by the end of his Administration flying an American flag, that progress on a trip to Mars would be made using propulsion that would dramatically reduce travel time, that there should be 5 launches a day - not just 1, and that the current NASA civil service system should be replaced with something more akin to what is used in the aerospace industry.
At the second event with Gingrich (invitation-only) a panel of local industry and political representatives spoke for several minutes each. With the exception of SpaceX, these panelists all blew their chance to make clear points to Gingrich, the online audience, and the national media. A number of these folks resorted to self-promotion and, in some cases, were simply babbling. Gingrich asked launch industry representatives a simple question i.e. what it would take (time etc.) to man-rate an Atlas V. No one could answer. You'd think that the space communnity would have thought ahead as to how they could make the best of this one time opportunity. FAIL.
"Gingrich's chief rival for the Republican nomination, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, has occasionally called attention to the "grandiosity" of Gingrich's ideas about space and other subjects. Gingrich said he doesn't view "grandiose" as an insult. "I accept the charge that I am an American, and Americans are instinctively grandiose, because we believe in a bigger future."
Gingrich calls for moon base, space, Reuters
"We want Americans to think boldly about the future," Gingrich said during a campaign rally in Florida, where he outlined a space policy initiative that would cut NASA's bureaucracy and expand on private-sector space programs championed by President Barack Obama. "By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American," Gingrich said."
Keith's original note: Courtesy of Henry Vanderbilt, Space Access Society:
"Space Coast - Space Industry Roundtable", 3:30 pm - 4:15 pm EST, invitation-only event, to be live-streamed by Florida Today, details at http://space.flatoday.net/2012/01/gingrich-to-visit-space-coast-for.html.
- "Space Coast Town Hall Meeting", 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm EST at the Holiday Inn, 301 Tucker Lane, Cocoa, FL, schedule to be broadcast live on CSPAN 1, see http://www.c-spanvideo.org/schedule for info, http://www.c-span.org/Live-Video/C-SPAN/ for streaming."