Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Wednesday vowed to build a lunar colony that he said could eventually become the 51st state.
Speaking to Republicans on Florida's Space Coast, the former House Speaker explained that the "grandiose" idea would be possible because the government would fuel innovation by awarding prizes and incentives to private businesses.
"At one point early in my career, I introduced the Northwest Ordinance for Space," Gingrich recalled, referring to it as the "weirdest thing" he'd ever done. "I said when we got -- I think the number is 13,000 -- when we have 13,000 Americans living on the moon, they can petition to become a state."
"By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American," the candidate insisted. "We will have commercial near-Earth activities that included science, tourism and manufacturing."
"I accept the charge that I am an American and Americans are instinctively grandiose because we believe in a bigger future!" he exclaimed. "I want you to help me both in Florida and across the country so that you can someday say you were here the day it was announce that of course we'd have commercial space and near space. Of course we'd have a man colony on the moon that flew an American flag."
Gingrich later joked to reporters about his chances with voters stationed at the lunar colony.
"I think the moon primary would come late in the season," he said.