Space an Issue in 2012?
Candidate Barack Obama in late 2007 proposed paying for an expanded education program by delaying Constellation 5 years, effectively killing it. When Florida became a battleground in the presidential primaries, he reversed himself and promised to support Constellation. (Hillary Clinton decisively won the Florida primary, but due to a rules fight Florida delegates were stripped of half their votes). In the general election, Obama won Florida and the presidency.
Once in office, President Obama did more than delay Constellation, he cancelled it. Thousands of NASA employees, many living in the I-4 corridor, have been laid off. The man-caused depression affects thousands more, from the restaurants where NASA workers eat to the salons that do our hair. The budget for education, in contrast, has soared dramatically.
Space was not an issue in the 2012 election, until last week. The current White House occupant never meets with NASA's Administrator. Mitt Romney had been expected to easily win South Carolina and Florida, sealing the Republican nomination. Because of Newt Gingrich's surprise win in South Carolina, the battle to challenge Obama will extend to the January 31 Florida primary and probably beyond. Again those votes in the Space Coast and I-4 corridor will be critical.
Newt Gingrich has promised to give a "visionary" speech on Space this week.
Gingrich has a longstanding interest in Space, and even once wrote a book about Space development. If the nomination battle extends to Texas, Space could even be an issue in Houston. Romney, if he wants to remain in the game, would be well-advised to come up with a turnaround strategy involving Space. Thanks to South Carolina, Space could become a critical issue in choosing the next US President.