The retired NASA space shuttle commander, Eileen Collins, went rogue at the Republican National Convention as she failed to endorse Donald Trump as the party’s presidential candidate during her speech.
However, Collins managed not to mention Donald Trump directly at all during her speech, which focused on her illustrious career in space exploration.
Prior to the Irish American astronaut’s appearance at the convention she had planned to give The Donald her backing and her endorsement was featured in the draft of her speech, according to Business Insider's Josh Barro.
When Collins took to the stage she failed to give her support and had said she did not want her speech to be partisan, but she did hint towards The Donald’s campaign slogan saying “We need leadership that will make America great again.”
The speech given to the Republican convention committee read, “We need leadership that will challenge every American to ask, 'What's next?'
“We need leadership that will make America's space program first again. We need leadership that will make America first again. That leader is Donald Trump.
“Thank you and God bless the United States of America!”
On the night she tweaked her words a little and said “We need leadership that will ask Americans, Americans will ask again, 'What's next?'
“We need leadership that will make America's space program first again. We need leadership that will make America great again.”
She also said, “Nations that lead on the frontier, lead in the world.
“We need that visionary leadership again. Leadership that will inspire the next generation to have that same passion.”
The Colonel told Mashable that her message was not meant to be political. She said, “This is a chance I could not pass up: we can raise awareness of how the U.S. human space program has slowed over the years.”
Collins logged 38 days, 8 hours, and ten minutes in space and flew four missions in space before retiring in 2006. She was the first female commander of a space shuttle mission and a career U.S.A.F. officer. In 1999 she commanded the Columbia on mission STS-93 to launch the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the most advanced X-ray telescope produced at the time.
She was recently honored by IrishCentral’s sister publication, Irish America magazine, when she was inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame.
Collins was born in Elmira, NY the second of four children of Rose Marie and James Collins, whose ancestors are from County Cork. She had an interest in flying from an early age and received an R.O.T.C. scholarship to study at Syracuse University in 1976, marking her entrance into the Air Force in the first year women pilots were accepted. In 1990, she was selected for the astronaut training program and became an astronaut the following year. In 1995 she made history as the first woman to pilot a space shuttle when NASA chose her to fly the first U.S.-Russia Shuttle/Mir rendezvous. She retired from NASA and the U.S.A.F. in 2006.
The Irish American astronaut wasn’t the only one to cause a stir on Wednesday evening. Shortly after Collins’ speech Ted Cruz also failed to endorse Trump and was booed by the crowd.
His wife, Heidi, was escorted from the convention floor as the crowd booed the former Republican presidential hopeful. Cruz told the crowds and those watching at home to “speak and vote your conscience.”
While Cruz’s own supporters cheered the Trump supporters booed and shouted “Trump, Trump, Trump!”
He began by saying "I want to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night."
Later he urged, “Please, don't stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."
However it seems that Cruz’s failure to endorse The Donald didn’t bother him at all:
He said, “I am watching and listening to make that decision.
“The election isn’t today. What I don’t intend to do is go out and throw rocks at Donald. I don’t intend to criticize him."
He also urged Trump’s supporter to "not just scream and yell and attack anyone who would dare question our candidates."
Cruz also added, “I can tell you I'm not voting for Hillary.”