GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has been going through a series of reversals this week, and today’s highlights include the dissing of America’s space program.
“Someone just asked me backstage, ‘Mr. Trump, will you get involved in the space program?’” he said during a town hall in Daytona Beach. Fla. “Look what’s happened with your employment. Look what’s happened with our whole history of space and leadership. Look what’s going on, folks. We’re like a Third World nation.”
The rare reference to space policy was sandwiched within nearly an hour’s worth of campaign rhetoric, and the comments catered to a Florida crowd. Employment on the Space Coast was hit hard by the space shuttle fleet’s retirement in 2011. Thousands of jobs were lost.
Now Florida’s aerospace jobs are starting to come back, thanks to SpaceX’s launches and landings, NASA’s commercial crew program, the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Blue Origin’s orbital space program and other ventures. Nevertheless, complaints about jobs resonate with Floridians who suffered through the post-shuttle blues and the Obama administration’s cancellation of the Constellation back-to-the-moon program.