Updated at 9:14 a.m. on October 29.
Kendrick Meek made the rounds on TV morning shows today to try to dispel the rumors that former President Clinton asked him to drop out of Florida's Senate race.
With less than a week before the election, the Democrat appeared on no fewer than five networks to say that while he and Clinton did discuss the race, he never agreed to drop out.
“President Clinton and I had a conversation. He didn’t ask me to get out, I didn’t tell him I was going to get out. We were just talking about the race in general, and the bottom line is someone needs to raise the question about Charlie Crist getting out,” Meek said on Fox News's Fox and Friends this morning.
On CNN’s American Morning, Meek said Clinton never made him an actual recommendation about leaving the race "because this is not his place.”
"I don't have quitteritis," he said on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
On ABC's Good Morning America, he told host George Stephanopoulos, “President Clinton and I had a discussion. Now, Doug Band or the spokesperson for the Clinton folks were not in the room. I’m going to tell you what the president said... he said we discussed it, and that was that,” Meek said.
“I guarantee you I am not getting out of this race.”
Meek is trailing both Republican Marco Rubio and Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist in the polls. On Fox, Meek accused Crist of spreading the rumors as well as requesting Meek drop out so Crist can absorb the Democratic vote. He accused Crist multiple times of calling Clinton’s office to persuade the former president to try and get him out of the race.
“Charlie Crist wants to be the next senator from the state of Florida by any means necessary,” Meek said on Fox and Friends. He added on CBS’s Early Show that Crist is "a very desperate candidate feeling that his pathway to victory is with me out of the race.”
Politico reported Thursday night that Meek agreed twice to Clinton’s request that he end his candidacy and endorse Crist. The account was corroborated by Clinton (in an interview on CNN); Band, Clinton's top aide; and Crist, who spoke to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann about it.
Clinton was in Florida campaigning for Meek on October 19-20. It was then that the discussions reportedly took place and led to a plan for an October 26 rally in which Meek would endorse Crist. But Meek balked, Politico reported, in part because his wife thought he could still win the race.
Meek said on Fox that Clinton has attended 11 of his campaign events, including two major rallies.
On GMA, Meek refused to concede to Stephanopoulos’s assertion that by staying in the race, he was virtually ensuring a Republican victory for Rubio.
“I don’t see myself handing anything to anybody. It is not my prerogative to do that,” he said. “People put me on the ballot.... I overwhelmingly won the Democratic primary.” He went so far as to promise he would get more than 15 percent of the vote. That's the total he had in the newest Quinnipiac poll.
Stephanopoulos’s final question had to do with a comment by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who said, “President Clinton’s actions to have Kendrick Meek withdraw from the campaign sends a chilling signal to all voters, but especially African Americans.... One can only imagine the response if Republican leadership tried to force out of the race -- in the 11th hour -- a qualified black candidate like Kendrick Meek.”
All Meek would say in response was, “You know the reason why Michael Steele put out the statement, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Good Morning America interview
Morning Joe interview
American Morning interview