The Campaign Spot

Crist and Clinton Pushed Meek Hard to Drop Out

This is an interesting 11th-hour story going on in Florida, but we’ve reached a point where I simply don’t trust something coming from the Crist camp.

And as for Bill Clinton . . . well, I don’t think this is a source of unimpeachable credibility.

Bill Clinton sought to persuade Rep. Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race for Senate during a trip to Florida last week — and nearly succeeded. Meek agreed — twice — to drop out and endorse Gov. Charlie Crist’s independent bid in a last-ditch effort to stop Marco Rubio, the Republican nominee who stands on the cusp of national stardom. Meek, a staunch Clinton ally from Miami, has failed to broaden his appeal around the state and is mired in third place in most public polls, with a survey today showing him with just 15 percent of the vote. His withdrawal, polls suggest, would throw core Democratic voters to the moderate governor, rocking a complicated three-way contest and likely throwing the election to Crist. The former president’s top aide, Doug Band, initially served as the intermediary between Meek and Crist, and Clinton became involved only when Meek signaled that he would seriously consider the option, Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna confirmed to POLITICO. “The argument was: ‘You can be a hero here. You can stop him, you can change this race in one swoop,’” said another Democrat familiar with the conversations, who said Clinton had bluntly told Meek that he couldn’t win the race.

Crist also confirmed the planned scenario Thursday night, telling MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann: “I had numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton.”

Meek conceded in an interview on CNN that he and Clinton had discussed his leaving the race, but denied that the conversation was serious. “We talk politics all the time. He said, ‘I heard this thing about you getting out.’ I said, ‘I’m not getting out.’ I said Charlie Crist needs to get out of the race. And that was that,” Meek said. “This whole thing, I don’t know where it came from. I know the discussions I had with the president wasn’t about some sort of wrapped deal with me getting out of the race. I’m not getting out of the race.”

Team Rubio responds:

Tonight, Rubio Senior Strategist Todd Harris issued the following statement on today’s Politico story:”Charlie Crist truly will say and do anything to get elected and hold on to power. Secret deals to trade away principles for power is already the problem in Washington, it’s not the solution. This is simply politics as usual which is exactly what voters across the country are emphatically rejecting this election.”

Facts Of Note:

As of today, more than 1.7 million Floridians have already voted — approximately 1/3 of all likely voters (4.8 million Floridians voted in 2006, the last midterm election).

There is not a single public poll which shows Crist leading Rubio in a hypothetical two-way race.

As of yesterday, our internal tracking showed Crist and Meek in a statistical dead heat.

Among those who have already voted, our internal polling actually shows Meek beating Crist 28% to 24%.

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