Huntsville, Alabama (CNN) – Newt Gingrich took an Alabama detour on Super Tuesday to reiterate his commitment to space exploration and science with a visit to space camp.
Saturday Night Live and his Republican presidential opponents lampooned Gingrich after a speech in January in which he called for an American base on the moon by 2020.
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"I want to restate, far from backing off, I want to restate, America has a destiny in space. It is a part of who we are. We are not going to back off from John Kennedy's challenge and we are not going to go timidly into the night allowing the Chinese to dominate the future of space," Gingrich said Tuesday.
Gingrich held a rally before a few hundred people at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, not far from a replica of a lunar modular that landed on the moon, and casted himself more presidential than rivals Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
"You know, there are visionaries and there are people who manage the decay, they're not the same business, and I'm very proud to be a visionary. Clearly a visionary doesn't mean being impractical," he said.
Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the "naysayers," namely the presidential candidates, are "the same critics that created the tea party by turning the Republican party away from its actual values."
"The same folks who mock Newt Gingrich for having vision in science, are the same people who don't want to cure cancer, the same people who are content to live with Alzheimer's, the same people who don't want to fix our public school systems, are the same people who look at a problem and say, 'Well, I can live with that, let's not worry about fixing that,'" Hammond said.
The former House speaker chose to visit the Huntsville space center and tour a biotech facility on the day that could determine his presidential prospects. If he doesn't win Georgia, he would likely drop out of the race and never make it to Alabama's primary on March 13.
Setting his sights on another comeback, Gingrich is confident he'll carry his longtime home state "by a big margin."
"It turns out the American people like positive ideas and positive solutions and the American people like proposals that give them a better future to create jobs and help create a better future. So I think for the third time, we are going to come bouncing back. And I suspect in another two or three weeks we'll have a clear choice."
If Gingrich picks up a few more wins right after Super Tuesday – possibly Kansas on March 10 and Alabama and Mississippi on March 13 – he said, "we could really be in a totally new race, and I'm very excited about it."