October 29, 2010

Clinton: 'I didn't ask Kendrick to leave the race.'

President Bill Clinton appears to contradict his own spokesman, who had confirmed reports that he had asked Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek to get out of the race.

"Kendrick Meek is my close friend. I have supported his campaign from the beginning, though our relationship extends far beyond politics. We did talk last week following a rally in Orlando about the race and it's challenges. I didn't ask Kendrick to leave the race, nor did Kendrick say that he would. I told him that how he proceeds was his decision to make and that I would support him regardless.

Over the years, I have watched Kendrick become an able, effective public servant with the strength to fight for what he believes and the common sense to work with people of different parties and points of view. I still believe he could be the best Senator to help Florida and America emerge from the current crisis and build a growing middle class economy."

Mason Dixon: Rubio has an insurmountable lead

Marco Rubio has built a "commanding and insurmountable'' lead in Florida's three-way Senate race, a new poll has found -- even without the latest political machinations in the race.

The poll -- which comes on the heels of revelations that former President Bill Clinton last week reportedly urged Democrat Kendrick Meek to get out of the race -- shows the Republican Rubio leading the field with 45 percent, followed by Gov. Charlie Crist at 28 percent and Meek at 21 percent. Only 6 percent of voters in the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. poll said they were undecided.

"There is simply no mathematical formula by which Crist or Meek can approach Rubio's 45 percent support level," said Mason-Dixon managing director Brad Coker.

   Even if Meek were to bow out now, Coker said, the math isn't there. Early votes have already been cast and Meek's name would remain on the ballot.

   "It was a pipe dream to begin with and if they were doing it, it should have been done a month ago," Coker said. "In three days how do you convince every Democrat who was going to vote for Meek that Crist is the guy?"

   He warned that the biggest loser in the "ham-handed move'' could be Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, who needs a robust turnout among Democrats, including African-Americans.


October 28, 2010

Republicans: Imagine the response if we tried to push a black candidate out

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on the Meek/Clinton conversation:

"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."

Charlie Crist on Clinton/Meek conversations: It's true

Charlie Crist said on MSNBC that he doesn't expect Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race: "I think that all three of us will be on the ballot.''

But he said he knew about the Clinton conversations. "How would I know?," he said, answering a question host Keith Olbermann said had been asked by the Meek campaign. "Because I had numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton. It's true.''


Democratic source confirms Clinton told Meek to quit

A prominent Florida Democrat is confirming the Politico story that says former President Bill Clinton urged Democrat Kendrick Meek to drop out of the Senate race. Meek has been mired in third place, splitting the Democratic vote with Gov. Charlie Crist as Republican Marco Rubio surged to the lead.

"There was an effort to get Kendrick out of the race, a heart to heart conversation with Kendrick about dropping out of the race,'' said the source, who asked not to be identified. "Clinton is totally loyal but there's no glory in finishing third. As the polls are coming out now with Kendrick in the teens, anyone who is really his friend would tell him he needs to think about how he can make a difference in this race." 

Politico: Clinton tried to get Meek to drop out

Politico: 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 Governor Charlie Crist’s independent bid in a last-ditch effort to stop the 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% 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.

More here.

Q poll has Rubio up by 7

Quinnipiac: In the Florida U.S. Senate race, Republican Marco Rubio leads Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent, 42 – 35 percent among likely voters, while Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek gets 15 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Today’s results compare with Quinnipiac University’s October 13 survey showing Rubio with 44 percent, followed by Crist with 30 percent and Meek with 22 percent. 

“Gov. Charlie Crist has cut into Rubio’s margin, but the former state House speaker remains the clear favorite to become Florida’s next U.S. senator,” said Brown.  “With his supporters less likely to change their minds than those of his two opponents, Marco Rubio is in the driver’s seat with only five days to go until Election Day.  Most of the closure came not from Rubio voters deserting him, but from Congressman Kendrick Meek’s voters moving to Crist.”

In the Senate race, Rubio is carrying 77 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independent voters.  Crist receives 19 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of independents.  Meek gets just 1 percent of Republicans, 36 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of unaffiliated voters.

“Gov. Crist has pulled within hailing distance of Rubio, but there are a couple of unique factors that probably work against him in the home stretch.  First of all, he is listed at the bottom of the ballot below a number of unknown independent and minor party candidates.  And, since he is without a party, he lacks the ground operation that the Democrats and Republicans have to turn out their voters,” said Brown.

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October 26, 2010

Crist on defensive in final Senate debate

ORLANDO -- The portable fan that Gov. Charlie Crist insists on at every public appearance could be seen and even heard during Tuesday's televised debate, but it didn't keep the independent U.S. Senate candidate out of the hot seat.

In Crist's last chance to chip away at frontrunner Marco Rubio, with only one week left before the Nov. 2 election, the governor frequently found himself playing defense in response to tough questions from debate moderator David Gregory of NBC`s Meet the Press.

In three separate lines of questioning, Gregory pressed Crist to explain his defection from the Republican party, unwillingness to say which party he would caucus with in Congress if elected, and his changed positions on issues like adoption by same-sex couples, which he now favors.

Holding up a copy of the Republican party platform, Gregory asked, ``Were you unaware that was an entrenched part of the Republican party, or did somehow you change for political expediency?''

``I haven't changed,'' Crist said. ``What changed is the Republican party, particularly the right wing of the Republican party.''

Full story here.

Rubio's two-minute closing argument on TV

Get out the hankies. Senate frontrunner Marco Rubio has released what his campaign is calling the "closing argument" of his campaign, and it comes with arresting images of war, the Depression, children waving American flags, and old black-and-white photos of his parents.

As the frontrunner, Rubio can afford to close out with a mostly positive message that only briefly chides "typical politicians who will say or do anything or fall for the same false attacks they recycle almost every election." The ad wraps in the main themes of his campaign -- that American is "exceptional;" that he, as the son of immigrants, is the product of that exceptional society; and that he will protect this land of hopes and dreams from darker forces in Washington.

Take a look: