Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Democrats toss barbs at Crist's European trade trip

TALLAHASSEE — His new fiancee at his side, Gov. Charlie Crist today kicks off an 11-day mission to England, France, Spain and Russia focusing on aerospace, aviation and alternative energy sources, including nuclear power.

Crist's third trade mission as governor is intended to strengthen Florida's ties with Europe while adding depth to his resume as he is mentioned as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate.

Democrats criticize the trip as a costly "junket," but the governor said the work is serious.

"I hope to generate economic opportunities for Florida," Crist said in an interview a few days before he left from Miami.

The trip will include a tour of a nuclear waste processing plant near Paris as well as:

• Meetings with senior officials in the United Kingdom, France and Spain.

• Attendance at a climate change forum in London.

• A ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery, where 9,387 U.S. soldiers are buried.

Crist also will make what he called a "sister city" trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, the namesake of his Florida home town.

"There's an awful lot of Russian investment in Florida real estate," he said. "We want to continue to encourage that."

The 94-person entourage includes top Florida utility executives and a dozen representatives of Enterprise Florida Inc.

EFI, the state's public-private business development arm, is paying travel costs for Crist and other state officials, including a state-employed photographer.

While staff members stay in rooms costing about $500 a night, Crist will stay in suites with work and meeting space that cost as much as $1,800 a night.

The trip comes as growing numbers of Floridians abandon vacations for "stay-cations" to save money. Democrats say it is ill-timed in light of record gas prices and tight government budgets.

"No responsible governor would have the audacity to spend more than $225,000 of the taxpayers' money jet-setting around Europe with his fiancee," said Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff.

Carole Rome, who accepted Crist's marriage proposal last week, was already on the travel list as a "delegate" representing her New York-based company, a wholesaler of Halloween costumes.

Crist has said it is vital to promote business in Florida in tough times. Enterprise Florida said his trip to Brazil last fall generated more than $300-million in "actual and anticipated" sales, including a 200-job expansion plan by the Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer.

He also will meet with leaders of three major aerospace firms: Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

On Monday, Crist will inaugurate the Florida Pavilion at the world's second-largest aerospace show, the Farnborough International Air Show. The next day, Crist and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty will meet with the chairman of Lloyd's of London. "Insurance always is an important issue in Florida, especially as it relates to our storms," Crist said. "So I hope that can be productive and helpful."

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Democrats toss barbs at Crist's European trade trip 07/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2008 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.