Schweitzer justifies trips in final months in office

Governor Brian Schweitzer is returning to Montana tonight after a few days of meetings in Washington D.C.

Last week, Schweitzer spent a few days in China meeting with companies about exporting Montana products.

Meanwhile, the latest round of attacks flying around the U.S. Senate Race between Jon Tester and Denny Rehberg concern accusations of unwarranted trips on the government dime.

In D.C., Governor Brian Schweitzer has been meeting with the departments of Interior and Energy, another meeting regarding a pork processing plant he’s trying to help facilitate in Shelby. Of course, he didn’t miss his opportunity to stop in at CNN.

Schweitzer says regular meetings with Federal Agencies are a part of the job.

“For better or for worse, it’s a partnership of the states and the federal government. 25 percent of the land in Montana is owned by the federal government and we’ve got to build this partnership,” Schweitzer said.

The Governor is leaving office at the end of the year due to term limits, to be replaced by either Democrat Attorney General Steve Bullock or former Republican Congressman Rick Hill. The rumor mill has been running wild with questions about what Schweitzer may do next—maybe a 2016 Presidential bid or perhaps a cabinet post.

“Any of those meetings include talks of plans for your future sir?” I asked Schweitzer.

“No (laughs) no. I think most people know that I love Montana and my future is in Montana.”

Schweitzer’s recent trip to China was spurred by him being invited to speak at an international energy conference.

“Shared the panel with a couple of Nobel Prize Laureates so I was a little intimidated.”

He also used the opportunity to visit companies where he’s trying to work out export deals. He says the emerging markets for Montana commodities are immense.

“100 percent of the copper ore produced in Montana currently goes to China, has for years. They have an active interest in increasing their purchases of meat in the United States and that’s why we’re working on this pork processing plant.”

The Governor also pursued opportunities for exporting platinum, palladium, wheat, barley and coal.

“This being again, your final months in office, do you feel you have to change your conversations, do you have to change your approach since you won’t be the man you’re dealing with in a few months?” I asked.

“Everybody understands that we have a democracy in this country and whoever is elected to an office at some point in the not too distant future that personality will no longer be in that office. You represent the office and you represent the state of Montana, that’s my mission… I don’t represent myself as a personality, that’s what I do as a private businessman and that’s what I’ll be doing in the future.”

Until then, Schweitzer stands behind his final trips around the country and around the world as the Governor of Montana.

“Well, I don’t think there’s anybody in Montana that thinks Brian Schweitzer just loves going to Washington D.C. I’ve made that abundantly obvious in the past. And there are a lot of destinations around the world, almost all destinations around the world are far superior to going to China if you want to be a tourist.”

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