Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said the plan is simply pandering to Florida interests, and said he would fire anyone who suggested such an idea to him.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, meanwhile, joked that he would send politicians to the moon.
The clash highlighted the conflicting values that brought down America's most recent efforts to revisit the moon.
President George W. Bush launched a moon program with a goal similar to that proposed by Gingrich, but budget realities and a lack of political will led President Obama to shelve the project in 2010.
More on how Gingrich's ideas jibe with old plans can be found here.