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.This is so slimy on so many levels. But how should African American Floridians feel that their party leaders were trying to convince the party's only black nominee out of the race in favor of a guy who was a Republican just a few months ago?
Meek agreed — twice — to drop out and endorse Gov. Charlie Crist’s independent bid in a last-ditch effort to stop 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 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.
Crist also confirmed the planned scenario Thursday night, telling MSNBC's Keith Olbermann: "I had numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton."
And learning from the Sestak maneuver, Clinton didn't explicitly dangle a job in front of Meek, but talked to him that this would be the best thing for Meek's future. Yeah, I'm sure that Meek could read between the lines on that one.
Do they really think that such a last minute maneuver, after early voting and absentee voting had already started, would have worked? It would have thrown a spanner into the works, but not enough to win. Would Democrats already demoralized have turned out to vote for a Republican turncoat? All this betrays is the Democrats' desperation and ideological slipperiness. They were willing to throw Meek totally under the bus for a maneuver that wouldn't have worked.
And they were willing to throw all the downballot Democrats on Florida's ballot under that same bus. Remember that their candidate for governor, Alex Sink, is in a tight race. What would it have done to her numbers if a certain number of Democratic voters had been discouraged from coming out? Of course, this was before she sunk her campaign by cheating on camera in the debate. But that has been a very close race and Clinton, with the White House's apparent support, was willing to stomp on her chances in order to throw this Hail Mary pass.
And of course, once Meek refused, the Clinton and Crist folk then completed the doublecross by then leaking the whole story to the press so that in Florida the weekend before the election the talk would be this story rather than the final push for the Democrats.
So now we know. When some Democratic arm twisting accompanied by some subtle bribing needs to be done, who you going to call?
The new heavy for the Democratic Party - Bill Clinton.