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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.
Clinton did not dangle a job in front of Meek, who gave up a safe House seat to run for the Senate, but instead made the case that the move would advance the congressman’s future prospects, said a third Democrat familiar with the conversations.
Now, just imagine for five seconds that this was a Republican trying to get a black candidate to drop out of a House or Senate race.
Anyway, not exactly a shocker here that the Bubster would try and throw a wrench into the Florida Senate race, considering some Senate races previously considered as “safe” for Dems (like the Nevada Senate race, for example, and the Senate race in West Virginia) no longer are. How much more of a hero to his beloved party would Clinton be if he managed to get Meek to drop out of the race and the Many-Faces-of-Charlie-Crist managed to win next week, stealing from Rubio what could be a sweet victory for him in what some would view as a stepping stone to a possible presidential run somewhere down the line?
Crist, the consumate panderering political snake that he is, announced at the final FLSen debate this week that – in the event he won – that who he would caucus with “depends on who wins” – that is a direct quote. Of course, he knows that the Senate likely won’t change hands even with the handful of Republican Senate wins that are expected, so he would caucus with the Democrats in spite of his laughable, desperate attempts at painting himself as an “independent.”
Will be interesting to see how this race pans out next week — and what effect the reports of Clinton’s attempts at getting Meek to drop out will have on the race.
As they say, stay tuned …
Update – 10:52 PM: Meek is denying the story.