POLITICO's Ben Smith reports tonight that former President Bill Clinton, a longtime ally of Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, got close to convincing the Democratic candidate to drop out of the three-way race in the face of flagging poll numbers.
Meek's exit could have paved the way for a victory by independent candidate Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist and Meek have split the votes of Democratic-leaning voters, allowing conservative Republican Marco Rubio a comfortable first-place lead. A recent poll showed Meek with just 15 percent of the vote.
Smith reports that Clinton almost succeeded. Twice.
Clinton campaigned with Meek in Florida on Oct. 19 and 20, and thought he had won Meek over in an evening conversation the night they spent together in Jacksonville. But as the week wore on, Meek lost his enthusiasm for the arrangement, spurred in part, a third Democratic source said, by his wife’s belief that he could still win the race. Clinton spoke with Meek again at week’s end, three Democrats said, and again Meek said he would drop out.
“It was a completely done deal,” one source said.
The Crist, Meek and Clinton camps even set a date for an endorsement rally: the following Tuesday, Oct. 26.
But Meek changed his mind again last weekend, writes Smith.