U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Democrat, dodged the question about which Republican he rather face in the 2010 U.S. Senate: Gov. Charlie Crist or former House Speaker Marco Rubio. But if his rhetoric is any indication, Meek feels Crist has weaknesses.
In a briefing with the capitol press corps, Meek said Crist isn't "prepared to lead this state in the United States Senate. One, he doesn’t like to make a decision. Two, he’s very vague. And three, I believe he’s more politician than leader."
Meek emphasized his 98 percent attendance record in Congress and his hard-work ethic in contrast to Crist's "one-meeting days" and photo-op sea-turtle releases.
And he said the Crist campaign's press release today declaring he would fight for "pro-life legislative efforts" is just "catering to voters who will turn out in the Republican primary."
"If any Floridian was to ask the governor, ‘How do you feel about health care?’ the governor’s response would be, ‘How do you feel about health care?’ That’s the politics that should not be involved in leadership here,” Meek added.
For more Meek on the issues, read below.
On health care: "The health care bill is a first step," he said. Meek doesn't expect the President to receive a final bill before the State of the Union "unless they set the State of the Union back." Meek said he couldn't share more details about the House-Senate compromise being worked out by Democratic leadership because he doesn't know anything -- which only fuels a current GOP talking point about a lack of transparency in the health care debate.
On Democratic departures in Washington: Meek suggested the recent wave of retirements is a part of the anti-incumbent tide. And he feels it could hurt Crist -- though didn't address the fact he is an elected politician -- an incumbent -- at the moment too.
Meek campaign strategy: He said his Senate campaign is mirroring his previous efforts to pass the class-size amendment that fought "(Gov. Jeb) Bush machine at it's strongest point." He doesn't plan to write off North Florida, a typically GOP bastion, either. He said he is traveling to Escambia County today, his fourth time. It's part of how his campaign is different, he argued. Meek launched his campaign a year ago -- formally announcing much earlier than is typical -- and is already operating five campaign offices statewide. He said he doesn't mind all the current attention on the Crist-Rubio battle, calling his a "stealth campaign."