Kendrick Meek and Alex Sink were joined by President Barack Obama on a conference call with African-American clergy, political and community leaders Wednesday, the first time Sink, Kendrick Meek and President Barack Obama have appeared together since August (though at that event at Miami’s Fontainbleau Hotel, Sink didn’t stick around for a photo op with the prez.)
During the call, Sink effusively praised Meek, saying she is behind him “one thousand percent,” perhaps dispelling any doubts that have circulated among Meek supporters. The Florida gubernatorial candidate touted her record as CFO and her “business plan for Florida,” including her ideas for creating opportunities for minority businesses and for improving the state’s schools, with an emphasis on the high drop-out rates plaguing young black male students in the state. Mostly, the candidate, whose candidacy has been thrown off track by a perceived snub of the NAACP by her campaign, and a texting scandal during a CNN debate this week, implored the African-American community to get out the vote, to help her become the first Democratic governor of Florida in 16 years (she did not mention the prospects of becoming the state’s first female governor.)
UPDATE: Kendrick Meek joined the call and emphasized that Democrats have to get past their differences and work together to prevent what he called the most “right wing candidates he has seen in 21 years of public life” from taking power. Meek said that despite any feelings that the emphases have been wrong here or there, Democrats need to stand together now. He said he and Sink are standing together, and are “personal donors” to each other’s campaigns.
While waiting for the president to join the call, Sink returned to the line to add that after four years of trying, she has named the first African-American to the state’s parole commission, and said the Princeton/UF graduate, who is the son of Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, would be a member of her cabinet if and when she is elected.
UPDATE 8:25 – President Obama joined the call, saying Alex Sink “must be the next governor of Florida,” and that he needs black voters to have the same enthusiasm they had in 2008, in order to continue moving the country forward after a difficult two years trying to correct the economic mess he confronted upon taking office. Obama said voters should also support Meek, to give the president the kind of “strong partners” he needs in Washington. “I can’t do it by myself,” he said.
“We can make a difference,” said Obama, making a personal appeal for those on the call to make phone calls, knock on doors, tell friends and encourage family members and their communities to vote for “his friends” Sink and Meek, and for “Democrats up and down the ballot.”
Sink has avoided personal appearances with the president, and had been criticized by some for not openly endorsing Meek, including in an appearance on Hardball Tuesday in which she praised Charlie Crist.
The call isn’t the final stop for Sink as she embarks on a mission to repair relations with black voters ahead of Tuesday’s election. She will also appear Saturday at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Miami. (TRR will be there also. I’ve just been drafted to co-emcee…)