Bill Clinton Not As Persuasive As We All Thought

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Photo: John Raoux/AP

The state of the three-way Senate race in Florida is this: Republican, tea-party-backed Marco Rubio is leading every poll by margins between seven and twenty points. In second place is Florida's governor, Republican Charlie Crist, who's been running as an Independent since dropping out of the GOP primary he was certain to lose to Rubio. And in third place is Kendrick Meek, the Democrat. Crist is a very moderate Republican — so moderate that it's assumed he would caucus with the Democrats if he ever made it to the Senate — and gets much of his support from Democrats. As does Meek. Which is why neither of them are going to win if both stay in the race.

Obviously, this is a terrible situation for the Democratic Party and the White House, both of which are doing everything they can to maintain a mere one- or two-seat majority in the Senate after their impending November 2 rout. The outcome of a single Senate race could determine whether that happens. That's why Bill Clinton tried to get his old friend Meek — they met in the early nineties when Meek, as a state trooper, picked Clinton up at the airport — to drop out of the race.

According to Politico, which broke the story, Doug Band, Clinton's lawyer, "initially served as the intermediary between Meek and Crist, and Clinton became involved only when Meek signaled that he would seriously consider the option." The Plum Line's Greg Sargent reports that Crist himself was the impetus for the whole thing, having called Band and asked him "if Clinton would make the appeal directly to Meek."

This wouldn't be a "getting a Democrat to drop out of a race" story without the requisite meddling from the White House. Crist — who was more than happy to speak of Meek's almost-dropping-out all over TV last night — told Fox News that he talked with "several people" in the White House about the plan. In fact, the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports that "[t]he WORST kept secret in Florida politics is that the White House tried to get Clinton to" convince Meek to drop out "several months ago," so they were obviously supportive when it actually started happening.

Anyway, it was all for naught. Politico reports that Meek twice agreed to end his campaign at Clinton's behest, but then changed his mind. Meek denied this last night, claiming he "was never dropping out of this race, is never dropping out of this race, and will never drop out of this race." That sounds pretty airtight, and with only a few days until election day, it seems the effort has failed.

Bill Clinton pushed Kendrick Meek to quit Florida race [Politico]