You just heard it from Keith Olbermann, and I just heard it from a source close to the Meek campaign. Kendrick Meek is categorically denying he had a conversation with former President Bill Clinton in which Clinton urged him to drop out of the Senate race. Team Meek is now distancing themselves from their own spokesman’s remarks to the Orlando Sentinel, saying Dave Hoffman was “mischaracterized” (per Keith) — although I’m not sure how you mischaracterize
…”that was discussed, yeah,” but Hoffman denied that Meek had ever agreed to drop out.
Hoffman said he could not characterize what Clinton said, but then said, “I think ‘suggest’ is probably the best ? not ‘suggest’ ? but that (getting out) was discussed yeah.
My sources are blaming this incident on Team Crist, and saying they put this out there as an “October surprise” to try and wipe Meek out. Crist saying he had “discussions with members of the Clinton team” on “Countdown” doesn’t argue against that possibility.
Meanwhile, the Sentinel story makes a good point about exactly what Meek’s campaign chief, Abe Dyk, said in his denial:
Meek Campaign Manager Abe Dyk issued a release saying the the story wasn’t true — sort of. It said Meek will “never drop out” but doesn’t address whether Clinton tried to persuade Meek to do so.
“The article is not true,” Dyk’s statement said. “Kendrick Meek was never dropping out of this race, is never dropping out of this race, and will never drop out of this race. Kendrick Meek will always stand up for the middle class and will not leave Floridians a choice between two lifelong conservative Republicans who only stand with the special interests. Kendrick is the Democratic nominee so if anyone should drop out, it’s Charlie Crist.”
…something Hoffman also said: that Meek had no intention of dropping out (regardless of whether it was discussed.)
15 minutes to presser time!
And you thought it was going to be a boring Tuesday…
RE-UPDATE: And now more definitively from the candidate to CNN:
(CNN) – Rep. Kendrick Meek said it is “absolutely not true” that he ever agreed to any kind of deal with former President Bill Clinton to drop out of the Florida Senate race, in an interview shortly before 9 p.m. ET Thursday with CNN contributor Roland S. Martin.
“The president came down to do an event for me in Orlando and St. Petersburg. We talk politics all the time. He said I heard this thing about you getting out. I said, ‘I’m not getting out.’ I said Charlie Crist needs to get out of the race. And that was that,” Meek said.
“The whole thing about a chartered plane is untrue. The whole thing about a rally planned is untrue. This whole thing, I don’t know where it came from. I know the discussions I had with the president wasn’t about some sort of wrapped deal with me getting out of the race. I’m not getting out the race,” Meek said.
When asked whether it was true that he confirmed twice to Clinton that he would get out, Meek said: “Not true. Absolutely not true. That’s just where it is. That’s not the case.”