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Tilting at Windmills

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October 29, 2010

CLINTON NEARLY BROKERED DEAL IN FLORIDA SENATE RACE.... In Florida's closely watched U.S. Senate race, the campaign has unfolded exactly as the center-left feared -- the far-right former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) is cruising to a comfortable victory, as former Gov. Charlie Crist (I) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) split the reasonable vote.

To prevent a Rubio win, the only plausible scenario was to have Meek drop out, throw his support to Crist, or both. Publicly, Meek refused to even consider the possibility. Privately, it appears a deal very nearly came together, thanks to the intervention of Meek's most prominent advocate. Ben Smith had the scoop late yesterday.

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 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 Meek campaign is denying that any such deal was ever in place. But multiple reports from a variety of outlets note that the former president was involved in talks; Meek had expressed a willingness to consider dropping out; and Crist, who had originally reached out to the Clinton camp, was very much involved in the process.

Indeed, the sources aren't exactly anonymous here. Clinton told CNN he'd talked with Meek about the possible arrangement; top Clinton aide Doug Band confirmed that Meek was open to the deal; and Crist told MSNBC that he was in direct talks with Clinton's team. Crist's campaign spokesperson even issued a statement describing the Politico report as "accurate."

This is not, in other words, anonymously-sourced campaign gossip.

Accounts vary on the timeline, but Clinton apparently believed he'd completed the deal last week, and an endorsement rally had been set for Tuesday, Oct. 26, in Miami. Meek, however, changed his mind this past weekend.

So, what happens now? Given the intensity of the Meek campaign's response, I'd be surprised if the Democrat suddenly reversed course, just five days before Election Day. In fact, I'm not even sure if it would make much of a difference -- Meek's name would still be on the ballot, and many Meek backers have already participated in early voting.

But the news itself, which I suspect will be a hot topic of conversation throughout the Sunshine State today, may also reinforce a not-so-subtle message to Florida Democrats: if defeating Rubio is the principal goal, Crist is the candidate better positioned to make that happen.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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. . . reinforce a not-so-subtle message to Florida Democrats: if defeating Rubio is the principal goal, Crist is the candidate better positioned to make that happen.

To me, a member of the "professional left", it reinforces a message that the Democratic party's "leadership" would rather make a deal with Republicans or pseudo-Republicans (Arlan Specter, Joe Lieberman) than fight alongside progressive Democrats.

Posted by: SteveT on October 29, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

There's a good reason for Meek not to drop out: Alex Sink needs every Florida Democratic vote, including every African American vote, to ensure a win in the governor's race. It's far from guaranteed that Crist would win even if Meek bailed, given that many early votes have already taken place and many African American voters are likely to simply stay home if Meek is seen as having been pressured to drop out.

I know that Clinton was our first black president, blah blah blah, but between his performance on the 2008 primary trail and this, he really seems to have lost his feel for African American voters.

Posted by: shortstop on October 29, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Surely "mary" (and KrisAinCa and all her other handles) is not the best the GOP has to offer? Well, maybe she is.

Posted by: shortstop on October 29, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Mary, maybe you and Jane H can run against Obama in the primary. That'd work.

Posted by: cr on October 29, 2010 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

Longer "Mary"

Crossroads GPS pays me $19.50 an hour to troll the interwebs and pose as a "liberal disgusted with Obama" while making not so subtle mistakes as "load [the] speech into the teleprompter" as to tip off even the dimmest liberal that I'm a bought and paid for hack. Rove Inc. deserves better than me, but the economy is tight and even the ultra rich can't afford good help these days.

Posted by: Oh my on October 29, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Why aren't national Democrats pushing Crist to pull out and throw his support to Meeks? Why are Democrats being urged to vote Republican, here and in Rhode Island?

Posted by: Tom Allen on October 29, 2010 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Crossroads GPS pays me $19.50 an hour

The number of GOP-paid trolls is enormously overestimated. Most of these people are just unstable losers with a whole lot of free time.

Posted by: shortstop on October 29, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

er, Tom Allen, big difference between RI and Florida. Meeks is far more progressive than Caprio. I supported Caprio's position due to his work with saving affordable housing programs and the pension funds in RI, but, when, I realized he wanted to introduce those damnable RepuG private savings accounts for healthcare in RI, I turned against him, as well. I still do not appreciate Chaffee's refusal to cross the aisle completely, instead of lingering in mid stream, but, if I lived in RI, I would never vote for anyone who wanted private savings plans for healthcare.

Posted by: berttheclock on October 29, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Note the southern good ol' boy paternalistic assumptions about who's in charge.

Christ reached out to the "Clinton camp" as if making a deal with Clinton was the necessary factor for determining what that "boy" Meek was gong to do in his own campaign.

If Meek is so beholden to Clinton that people don't even talk to Meek about making a deal to drop out of an election, he doesn't deserve to be a senator.

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 29, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Note the southern good ol' boy paternalistic assumptions about who's in charge.

Christ reached out to the "Clinton camp" as if making a deal with Clinton was the necessary factor for determining what that "boy" Meek was gong to do in his own campaign.

If Meek is so beholden to Clinton that people don't even talk to Meek about making a deal to drop out of an election, he doesn't deserve to be a senator.

I don't know about that. Think it was probably more of a "Well, we can't convince him -- would you try?" thing. They don't seem to have gone to Clinton off the bat.

Posted by: shortstop on October 29, 2010 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

You know, this whole thing has been flying around the blogosphere for the past couple of days, and I can't help but notice something is always missing from it. Namely... did Crist agree to caucus with the Democrats if Meeks dropped out?

Follow me on this. Crist has to caucus with one of the two parties if he's elected. If that's the Republicans, then basically he has to toe their line, because the Republican caucus brooks no dissent or freedom; even Snowe and Collins snap-to and salute when Mitch McConnel gives them marching orders. Therefore, in that scenatio, there is no PRACTICAL difference between Crist or Rubio, as their voting records will be basically identical.

But!

Rubio is a LOT MORE beatable than Crist. Hell, look at the polling; 'Not-Rubio' wins in a landslide. Crist has a lot of charisma, knows how to control himself and especially his mouth, and basically oozes 'I am a reasonable man who you can trust with elective office' out of his pores. Rubio, by contrast, is a true believer. So if neither of them will be substantively different in their voting patterns, the question is 'who do we want to run against in 2016?' And THAT'S Rubio.

Having said that, if Crist was willing to offer a quid pro quo, 'I'll caucus with you guys in exchange for an endorsement' then Meeks should have taken it, because a nominal Dem (who would probably then become an ACTUAL one in 2016) is worth more than Rubio in office, and Meeks has a responsibility to prevent someone whose voting pattern will screw over the country from getting in if she can. But nobody is even asking the question for some reason.

Posted by: Murc on October 29, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

I can't help but notice something is always missing from it. Namely... did Crist agree to caucus with the Democrats if Meeks dropped out?

Crist consistently refuses to say who he'll caucus with, claiming that he'll make that decision after the election.

Posted by: shortstop on October 29, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

You're missing the larger consequences of this little affair, people: Darrell Issa will undoubtedly impeach Obama over this.

Obviously, it's his fault. That, or Jimmy Carter's. They're both history's biggest monsters.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on October 29, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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