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.
The White House, Democrats said, had knowledge of the plans and viewed them as a path to capturing the Senate seat, but did not initiate the talks.
Last weekend, however, Meek changed his mind.
“Not being seen as a quitter was more important than stopping someone who was so opposed to what you and your party had stood for,” said one Democrat who had been hoping to close the deal.
Meek released a strong statement last night denying that he'd ever acquiesced to Clinton's cajoling:
"The [Politico] article is not true. Kendrick Meek was never dropping out of this race, is never dropping out of this race, and will never drop out of this race. Kendrick Meek will always stand up for the middle class and will not leave Floridians a choice between two lifelong conservative Republicans who only stand with the special interests. Kendrick is the Democratic nominee so if anyone should drop out, it's Charlie Crist."
Here's Meek on Morning Joe explaining that, yes, Clinton spoke with him about "rumors" that he might drop out, while insisting that he never agreed to it:
Meanwhile, the Clinton and Crist camps both say the discussions did take place, with some sources (I'm guessing from Team Crist) telling Politico that Meek actually signed off on a deal:
“It was a completely done deal,” one source said.
The Crist, Meek and Clinton camps even set a date for an endorsement rally: the following Tuesday, Oct. 26. Meek was to give Crist his blessing and explain to his disappointed supporters — many of whom deeply distrust the governor, who was elected as a Republican — that their votes could save the Senate for the Democrats and save America from the rise of Rubio, who is viewed both as a hard-line conservative and a potential national figure.
Two things are clear: At least one of these three stooges is lying. Take your pick. Also, if Crist's version of the "truth" is accurate, it's now obvious that his "I'll caucus with myself" charade was nothing more than a naked attempt to convince voters of both parties that he might ultimately side with them if elected to the Senate.
If, as reported, the alleged deal struck among Crist, Clinton, and Meek involved the erstwhile Democratic nominee dropping out and imploring his supporters to vote for Crist in order to "save the Senate for the Democrats," it would follow that Crist would caucus with Democrats -- the party for which he was "saving" the Senate.
Unless, of course, Crist eventually went back on his word for political expediency....but that would never happen.
UPDATE - Surprise: Meek now says it was Crist himself, not Clinton, who urged him to bow out. What a mess. You know who emerges from this fiasco with a clean nose? Marco Rubio.