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Crist Confirms Contact With White House in Effort to Get Democrat to Drop Out

During an interview on MSNBC Thursday evening, Gov. Charlie Crist, R-I, confirmed that his campaign had spoken with Bill Clinton's camp regarding attemtps to get Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek to pull out of the Florida Senate race -- a move that would've put Crist in a competitive two-way race with Republican Marco Rubio who currently leads the pack.

But later in the evening, during an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, Crist dropped another bombshell, hinting that the campaign against Meek also involved the Obama White House:

Both Clinton and Obama have made trips to Florida to campaign for Meek, the race's Democratic candidate who now commands about 15 percent of general election votes.

This wouldn't be the first time the White House recruited former President Clinton to carry out some political "dirty work." Earlier in the election season, the White House claimed that it had asked Clinton to intervene and try to get Democrat Joe Sestak to drop out of the Democratic primary race against Sen. Arlen Specter.

In response to the developments, Rep. Meek says he plans to remain in the race until the end. In a press conference Thursday night, Meek denied Politico's accounts that he'd considered dropping out of the race:

The Rubio camp also weighed in with a statement:

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.

And, in a rare instance of the GOP playing race card, RNC chairman Michael Steele made the following statement:

If we have learned anything this election cycle, it’s that voters demand the right to choose candidates for themselves, not by a political establishment seeking to make those decisions from on high. President Clinton’s actions to have Kendrick Meek withdraw from the campaign sends a chilling signal to all voters, but especially African Americans. One can only imagine the response if Republican leadership tried to force out of the race – in the 11th hour – a qualified black candidate like Kendrick Meek.
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