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"It was a done deal."
According to a new report from Politico, former President Bill Clinton traveled to Florida last week to campaign for Rep. Kendrick Meek, while simultaneously urging the Democrat to drop out of the three-way race against Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate.
Politico reports that Meek agreed on two separate occasions to concede the election and endorse Crist's independent bid in a "last-ditch" effort to stop conservative favorite Rubio.
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.
According to Politico, Clinton had convinced Meek to exit the race and the Crist, Meek and Clinton camps even set a date for an endorsement rally.
One aide told Politico that it was "a done deal."
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.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.
The White House has not commented on the Clinton camp's claims, though President Obama has personally campaigned for Meek in the past.
Meanwhile, Meek's campaign manager, Abe Dyk, denies the report. "Kendrick Meek was not ever dropping out of this race and will not ever drop out of this race," Dyk told Politico. "He’s going to stand up for the middle class as opposed to his two lifelong Republican opponents who always stand with the special interests."
The latest poll of likely Florida voters has Republican Marco Rubio enjoying a full 10 point lead over Crist with Meek in third place.
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