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A vote for Meek is a vote for Rubio, Crist says

Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday said he feels "great" about his chances in Florida's U.S. Senate race, despite a string of polls of late that show him trailing Republican Marco Rubio.

Crist denied speculation in the media that his supporters are putting pressure on Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, who's running a distant third in some polls, to quit the race to give Crist a better chance in a head-to-head contest with Rubio. "Number One, there's no pressure," Crist said. "People should do what they think is right. But I'll be clear about this: I'm the only candidate who can both win in November and stop the Tea Party mess that Mr. Rubio would bring to Washington."

When AP's Brent Kallestad asked Crist if a vote for Meek is a vote for Rubio, he said: "It sure looks like it, yeah. Regrettably, that would be the case." Asked if Meek should drop out, Crist said: "No. That's his decision. I have no comment."

Asked for his opinion of Republican Rick Scott, Crist said: "I think both candidates are trying very hard." The governor would not comment on Scott's plan to save money by slashing the state prison budget by about one-third, a proposal some critics say would force prisons to shut down. "I'll have to evaluate that," he said.

-- Steve Bousquet