It’s not quite fair to accuse Gingrich of pandering to Florida voters by talking about space flight. He has been enthusiastic about the subject for decades. In 1981, he introduced a bill to establish a comprehensive space policy for a world information system, earth orbital facilities, and exploration of the solar system.
Although urging a renewal of manned space missions would have sounded reasonable, he went too far with his proposal for a lunar base. To deficit-weary voters, it sounded like The Starship to Nowhere.