Charlie Crist says ending economic sanctions on Cuba would be great for Florida's economy


A day after the Republican Party of Florida accused him of trying to "cash in on" the escalating crises at the Department of Veteran Affairs, Charlie Crist turned the tables on the state party on Friday night, calling it "unconscionable" that the GOP-led state Legislature had failed to expand Medicaid, leaving 41,000 military veterans without healthcare access.

"That's the real story and the real tragedy here," he told members of the press while standing in the patio of the Calypso Rum Bar and Island Grill in downtown St. Petersburg, where he was about to host a fundraiser with young professionals.

"I can’t imagine how they can look in the mirror when they haven’t done something that’s so fundamentally fair and right and just, so that’s the tragedy here, and that’s what we need to be focused on – helping people- and they just don’t seem to care about people that need help."

The RPOF had seized on a series of tweets that Crist made on Thursday afternoon after he announced that, like Governor Rick Scott, he too now believes that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should step down at the federal agency. The specific number of 41,000 veterans losing out on Medicaid in Florida came from an Urban Institute report.

The self-proclaimed "People's Governor" also touched on a few other issues, such as Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative on the ballot this fall which he fully supports. He was dismissive of statements made by Florida Republicans like House member Matt Gaetz and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam that because of the "Charlotte's Web" medical marijuana bill just passed in the Legislature, Amendment Two wasn't needed to provide pain relief for those suffering from certain illnesses.

The bill that Governor Scott is expected to sign would be limited to horticultural growers that have been in business for at least 30 years, are already growing at least 400,000 plants and have the financial means to compete for the five state licenses to grow, process and sell medical marijuana products.

"I mean it’s really kind of a joke and a charade, and a fraud on the people of Florida and it’s not right," he said about the idea that the amendment isn't needed now.

Much has been made about Crist's conversion to now supporting an end to the U.S. government's five-decade plus long economic embargo on Cuba, with the new Democrat saying that he may take a trip this summer down to the island nation. Crist said on Friday that he's made a formal application to do so, and said if those sanctions were ever eliminated, helping that country rebuilt would be a boon for Florida's economy.

"It’s stuck years ago in a time warp, people are driving 1950’s Studebaker's down there, so if we are able to have better relations with the Island, lift the embargo, have better economic enhancements, look at what that would do for Florida," he said. "All the road construction, all the infrastructure, all the housing that would be necessary. Florida, our Florida, would be the natural launching pad. Talk about a jobs program? It’s a big deal."

Add a comment