Politics

Trump loves NASA, but backs privatization of outer space

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestured while speaking at Politics and Eggs in Manchester, N.H., on Wednesday.
Cheryl Senter/AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestured while speaking at Politics and Eggs in Manchester, N.H., on Wednesday.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told an audience in New Hampshire Wednesday morning that he likes the idea of privatizing space. Speaking to more than 600 people at a Politics and Eggs event in Manchester, Trump took a question from a 10-year-old about NASA.

“I love NASA,” said Trump, according to a live video of his remarks. “I love what it represents, I love what it stands for, and I hope that some day in the not too distant future we can get that going.”

But citing decreased funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Trump lauded the privatization of space.

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“You know, space is actually being taken over privately, which is great,” Trump said. “It is being taken over by a lot of private companies are going after space, and I like that maybe even better, but it’s very exciting.”

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For the past 40 years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has become a smaller portion of the overall federal budget In 2014, NASA funding comprised one-half of one percent of the budget, despite some calls for more investment in the agency.

Trump said the nation has funding priorities above NASA.

“You know in the old days, it was great,” Trump said about the space program. “Right now we have bigger problems, you understand that. We got to fix our potholes. You know we don’t exactly have a lot of money.”

Trump’s remarks put him at odds with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who said in July that he is “a space guy” and would want to increase funding for NASA. US Senator Marco Rubio, who is also from Florida, where Cape Canaveral is located, has expressed an affinity for NASA but has supported reducing its funding levels. US Senator Rand Paul has called for cutting a quarter of NASA’s funding as part of his budget proposals.

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After discussing NASA specifically, Trump said that he thought “space is terrific.”

His back-to-back events — a live town hall meeting broadcast on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and an appearance at Politics and Eggs, which is sponsored by the New England Council — came several hours after the fourth Republican presidential debate concluded. He said he had less than two hours of sleep the previous night.

But he also said that he liked how the debate only featured eight candidates on the main stage instead of 10 candidates like in the other debates.

“One by one by one, they’re disappearing,” Trump said of his rivals not on the main stage. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell, or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at bostonglobe.com/groundgame.