President Obama has given up on the space program and is allowing rival superpowers China and Russia to dominate that field, Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan said at a campaign stop in Florida on Saturday.

"I think it's important that we have a space program that has a clear mission; a space program that we know where we're heading in the future; and a space program that is the unequivocal leader in space travel and space research on the globe," Ryan said. "We don't have that right now."

Ryan said that in 2008, Obama campaigned in Florida on promises to advance the nation's space program. Yet since taking office, Ryan claimed, Obama has gutted NASA and, in doing so, broken that campaign vow.

"This is one of those other broken promises," he said. "We have presided over a dismantling of the space program over the last four years."

During his speech, Ryan also raised the spectre of Soviet Russia, saying that the U.S. now pays our cold war adversary every time we want to send an astronaut to the international space station, drawing boos from the crowd. Even worse, he warned, if the U.S. does not change course, the Chinese could some day establish a foothold on the moon.

"China may some day be looking down on us from the moon," Ryan said. "That's unacceptable."

Ryan lauded the space program as a strong driver of the economy, and said that it fosters entrepreneurial innovation in new technologies—something Obama would agree with.

In 2010, the Obama administration announced an end to plans aimed at putting an astronaut on the moon by 2020, saying NASA should instead use its funding to develop radical new technologies. The proposal called for significant increases to NASA's funding over the next decade to implement that dramatic change in direction.

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