COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Former President Donald Trump on Friday told listeners to the Alabama-based radio talk show the Rick and Bubba Show that it was his decision alone to locate US Space Command at Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville. The president's words caused an uproar among elected leaders in Colorado as proof that the basing decision was political rather than based on the merit of the competing communities.
"By the way, Space Force I sent to Alabama, I hope you know that," Trump said on the broadcast. "Yeah, and they said, we're looking for a home and I single-handedly said let's go to Alabama. They wanted it, I said let's go to Alabama."
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers has long believed the January decision was based on politics.
"I guess I'm not surprised, I'm glad that he admitted it because now we can say to the Air Force we can say to DOD and everybody else this was not the merit-based process that some people pretended that it was," Suthers said.
Congressman Doug Lamborn also pointed to the president's statement as an admission that the decision was based on politics and personal preference and not the Air Force's basing criteria.
"This proves that claims by the Department of the Air Force that the decision was 'merit-based' are completely false," Lamborn wrote.
"This has been my concern all along, and calls into question the entire selection process."
He and the other members of Colorado's Congressional Delegation have pushed for investigations into the basing decision by both the Government Accountability Office and the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense.
Governor Jared Polis and Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera issued a joint statement calling the basing decision misguided and politicized.
"Colorado is the natural home for Space Command," Polis and Primavera wrote. "These callous comments fly in the face of Coloradans, military families, and those who have worked to cultivate our aerospace ecosystem that is suited to guarantee the operational success of U.S. Space Command and deliver the best value to taxpayers."
Their statement goes on to say that relocating the military men and women currently serving the combatant command at Peterson Space Force Base will cost US taxpayers billions of dollars and damage military readiness.
Senator John Hickenlooper echoed the governor's concerns about expenses and impact on the mission, saying in a statement that Trump's word show exactly why Colorado's members of Congress want a review and reconsideration of the decision.
"We look forward to the Air Force doing just that -- looking at what is best for our national security -- and making sure Space Command is located where it belongs, in Colorado Springs," Hickenlooper said.
El Paso County Commissioners wrote in a statement that they plan to continue working with local stakeholders and Congress to reverse the decision.
"It makes no sense to spend billions of taxpayer dollars and gain no mission enhancement by moving Space Command from its current location," the statement reads.
As for reversing the decision, Mayor Suthers shared optimism in having President Trump share his feeling about the move so openly.
"I'm hoping that this will be enough for the DOD Inspector General, for Congress, and the White House to move towards overturning this and leaving Space Command in Colorado Springs."