TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Gov. Charlie Crist won't be sleeping alone in the governor's mansion much longer _ he is engaged to a woman he met in New York City last September who quickly captured his heart.
Crist, 51, asked Carole Rome to marry him Thursday morning at his St. Petersburg apartment, giving her a blue sapphire ring surrounded by diamonds. She immediately said yes.
"I'm very happy and couldn't be more pleased. What a great way to celebrate America's birthday," said Crist, who has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Republican presidential candidate John McCain. "We've been talking about it for quite a while. I asked her while we were looking out over Tampa Bay and I couldn't think of a better place to do it."
Rome, 38, is the president of Franco American Novelty Co., her family's New York-area Halloween costume company, though she stopped managing its daily business when she moved to Fisher Island near Miami in 2006. Crist said they met at a dinner where he and friends were discussing fundraising.
Asked what made him fall in love, Crist said, "Her beautiful smile, her sweetness, her brilliance _ all of it."
Crist was briefly married while in college, but was divorced in less than a year. That experience contributed to the long wait between commitments.
"It made me be very selective, candidly. Those things tend to make you gun-shy a little bit, but I'm so blessed to have found such a wonderful woman," Crist said. "It sure is great to find the right one."
The couple has been seen together frequently, from a Jimmy Buffett concert in Tampa last November to sporting events and on the campaign trail with McCain. At a Republican Party of Florida dinner last month, Crist told a crowd of 700 donors that he is lucky to have Rome in his life.
The couple is discussing a fall ceremony. Crist said the wedding will likely be a more intimate gathering in St. Petersburg followed by a larger reception at the governor's mansion.
"It will be awfully nice to have her at the mansion. It's a big place to have to be alone in," he said.
Crist took office in January 2007 and previously served as attorney general, education commissioner and in the state Senate.
Rome was previously married to Blue Star Jets president Todd Rome. She has two daughters, aged 9 and 11, and Crist said he hopes the couple has a child of their own someday.