I've got a question for Democrats and anybody else who has already voted for Kendrick Meek in early or absentee voting.
How you feeling about your vote today?
Kendrick Meek did the full monte of the morning news programs today, hitting up The Today Show, GMA, and CBS' Early Show to deny the story originally reported late yesterday afternoon on Politico , that he had agreed last week to drop out of the U.S. Senate race after being persuaded to by Bill Clinton, and would endorse Charlie Crist in the race.
Though Meek is denying the story completely, which is that after meeting with a representative of Clinton and then Clinton himself he was set to drop out this past Tuesday, the NY Times is also reporting that Meek had agreed to drop out.
The Times says that Clinton's spokesman, Matt McKenna, says that the deal was set, but that Meek at the last minute backed out.
Not only that, but Bill Clinton himself told CNN's Susan Candiotti last night:
"He was trying to decide what to do and I talked to him and I told him that, we went through everything, we talked about it a couple of times, and I said at the end you know, you have to do what you thought was right. You have to do what he thought was right. You have to do what he felt best about, felt right about. I think in terms of what I said to him and what he said to me, since he's my friend and he's the candidate and he wanted us to talk as we always have, I have to let him say whatever he wants to say about our conversation, it would be wrong for me to discuss it, except to confirm that we did discuss this."
According to the NY Times, an official close to Mr. Clinton said the discussions were first initiated by Mr. Crist, who called Doug Band, a top adviser to Mr. Clinton.
Mr. McKenna said Thursday evening that the former president was not initially involved in the discussions between Mr. Band and Mr. Meek or a separate set of discussions between Mr. Band and Mr. Crist. Mr. Clinton became involved only last week.
Reports of an on-again, off-again deal with just five days before the election could put new pressure on Mr. Meek to reconsider his decision to stay in the race. Or the news could be seen as a signal to Florida Democrats from Mr. Clinton that senior party officials would like them to vote for Mr. Crist on Tuesday.
The developments in Florida come as Mr. Clinton is deeply involved in the midterm election campaign. For more than two weeks, he has visited a different state nearly every day, waging an aggressive fight to hold the Democratic Partys control of Congress.
Mr. Clinton is close to Mr. Meek and for years has been one of his top mentors and advisers. Mr. McKenna said Mr. Clinton had come close to persuading his friend to drop out last week while they were campaigning together across the state.
A person close to the Clinton-Meek conversations said that Mr. Clinton and Mr. Band had planned for the endorsement event to take place in Miami this past Tuesday.
It was a done deal, said the person, who asked not to be identified since the conversations were meant to be private.
Then last weekend, it fell apart, with word sent to Mr. Clinton and Mr. Band that Mr. Meek could not do it, that he had to finish what he started no matter what the ramifications.
But when asked about this account on CBS's Early Show, Meek flatly denied it, saying:
"That is not true. And I'm going to tell you: President Clinton and I talked. There's no way in the world that anyone can - by name- I mean, these were anonymous uh, they said that we had a discussion, they confirmed that.....we had the conversation about the race in general, we did not come to any type of agreement that I would get out of the race and the President did not push me to do so, I did not tell him that I wanted to do it, we talked about, and that's it, that was the bottom line."
As to the idea that Meek agreed to quit twice, "I never agreed once, " he said. "This is just made up, I don't know where it came from."
Conservatives are having a field day with this. An e-mail just sent to my inbox blares in its headline, "Candidate Pushed Black Candidate to Get Out." Joe Scarborough on MSNBC's Morning Joe, said the zeal by Democrats to stop Marco Rubio was a form of racism, saying that Democrats have a history of stopping young aspiring Hispanic Republicans, referring to how Democratic members of the Senate thwarted Miguel Estrada back in 2003 of a post on the federal appeals court in Washington D.C.
The bottom line out of all this drama? Look, the rumors have been thick for weeks. It's not shocking that Meek would discuss this possibility with Bill Clinton (not with the Obama White House, as best can be determined, though apparently Charlie Crist is saying otherwise). If Meek had come out and quit, it would be shocking to his supporters and all those who have worked tirelessly for his candidacy, and beaten off challenges from their Democratic friends that they should support the more viable Crist. But maybe he goes ahead and does it. Would it help Crist beat Rubio? That's very questionable. Look, with 15% in the latest poll, apparently Democrats don't need Meek to quit to feel like they don't need to vote for him.
But to think/say you'll quit, and they don't pull the trigger? Congressman Meek looks bad this morning. When asked by Today Show co-host Meredith Vieira this morning about the perception that by staying in the race, he could be seen as "the spoiler," and whether that would hurt his political career, Meek responded to the perception that the story out right now is hurting it, saying, "Let me tell you what would destroy my political career. If, you know, there's a question about my political career. The bottom line is quitting in the middle of a race. I don't do that. And I will not do that to the people of the state of Florida."
When asked about that paltry 15% of support he garnered in yesterday's Quinnipiac poll, Meek disputed that's where he's really at in the race.
You can watch Meek's interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos: