Sunday, June 17, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Buckhorn hopes to find common ground with Trump on infrastructure.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn is going to the White House.

So is Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos. But not St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Buckhorn's mission? To find common ground with President Donald Trump, specifically on a stalled plan to pump up to $1 trillion dollars to upgrade and repair the nation's infrastructure.

"It's the infrastructure bill. That's what mayors care about. That's where mayors could find common ground with this president so we'll really be emphasizing that," said Buckhorn, shortly after posing for series of photos on Tuesday with pirates who had unsuccessfully demanded the key to the city to kick of the annual Gasparilla celebration.

Buckhorn leaves Wednesday for the annual U.S. Conference of Mayor's Winter meeting in Washington, D.C. Shortly after arrival, Buckhorn will join a group of mayors in a visit to the White House, including Cretekos.

"We're hoping we can build a relationship with him," said Buckhorn of Trump. He cited working with Republican Gov. Rick Scott as precedent for crossing partisan lines if needed. "I don't have any problem doing that if it benefits the city."

Across the bay, Mayor Rick Kriseman departed Tuesday for the mayor's conference.

Kriseman won't be joining Buckhorn or Cretekos at the White House. He wasn't invited, said spokesman Ben Kirby.

Kriseman banned Trump from St. Petersburg in 2015 after Trump proposed a ban on Muslim immigration via the president's favorite form of communication: a tweet. And his reelection campaign last year used Trump as an effective political deadweight around the neck of Rick Baker, his Republican opponent

Would Kriseman go to the White House if invited?

Kirby didn't give a definitive answer

"He would always do whatever is best for St. Petersburg, " Kirby texted.

Buckhorn has also been critical of Trump, particularly during the 2016 campaign when he was a visible supporter of Hillary Clinton.

Does he expect any blowback from the president?

"We're all grownups," Buckhorn said. "We all want what's best for the country."

But pragmatic politics has its limits. When about the possibility of being the subject of a Trump tweet, Buckhorn was succinct: "I hope not."

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