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Beam me up, Newt. Gingrich soars in the Space Coast.

Newt Gingrich drew a standing room only crowd to a hotel ballroom in Cocoa. The doors were shut after about 700 people arrived, a crowd so large that many stood behind the TV cameras, laughing as an emcee told the crowd to take a seat.

Among the fans, Angelo Truglio, 68, a retiree who, when asked who he was voting for, said, "Nuke 'em Newt."

A loyal Republican, Truglio said he's never been a fan of Mitt Romney's -- despite his establishment backing.

"They've been pushing him for so long, I got tired of him," he said. "I like Newt, he's got the fight in him."

He said he wasn't troubled by any of Gingrich's baggage -- including the marriages or the work for Freddie Mac.

"I remember what he did in Congress," he said. "Look at all he accomplished."

Gingrich is delivering a speech heavy on space and acknowledged at the outset to being a space geek: "I'm old enough that I used to read missiles and rockets magazine," he said. He's mentioned Romney just once, to say that Romney has poked fun at him for dreaming big about space.

He pledged to be a president who would deliver "relentless pressure to be faster... more innovative" in the space industry.

"By the end of my second term," he said to laughter and cheers. "We will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American."

"Does that mean I'm a visionary? You betcha," he said to applause.

He noted he was "attacked the other night for being grandiose," and noted that the Wright Brothers dreaming of winged flight were grandiose, as was John F. Kennedy for wanting to get a man on the moon.

"Americans are instinctively grandiose," he said to applause.

-- Lesley Clark