A confusing press release from a Democrat caused a handful of reporters to inaccurately report what would have been a big story Wednesday on Twitter that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was throwing his support behind Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, an independent candidate running for the U.S. Senate.
It appears that the confusion came after the campaign of Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek sent an email to reporters with the subject, “Graham Endorses Governor Charlie Crist for Senate,” in an effort to show Crist’s conservative past. But it did not mention that it was an old press release.
Such a report would have been a major story in a tight election year when both major parties are fighting for control of Congress. But it was dated in May 2009, when many Republicans—including the NRSC—were still supporting Crist’s run in the GOP primary. Crist later left the party to run as an independent, and Graham rescinded his support.
One reporter who was confused by the press release immediately corrected herself and deleted the false message on Twitter.
“Scratch my last tweet. I was wrong,” Amanda Terkel, a Huffington Post senior political reporter tweeted after sparking a fury of re-tweets from other political reporters at publications, including Time and The Daily Caller. “Looking at old release.”
Graham, according to a spokesman, is still actively supporting the Republican candidate, Marco Rubio in the race. He endorsed Crist in May 2009 and his leadership PAC, the Fund for America’s Future, donated $5,000 to his campaign in December 2009, though eventually asked for the money back.
“When Governor Crist announced that he was no longer a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, we sent a letter to the treasurer of the Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate campaign asking that the $5,000 be refunded and that Senator Graham’s endorsement be removed from the campaign’s website and literature,” spokesman Kevin Bishop said.
Graham, Bishop said, co-hosted a Rubio reception in Washington and Fund for America’s Future gave the maximum $5,000 contribution to the Rubio campaign in August.
Meek spokesman Dave Hoffman told TheDC that the campaign has been sending out old press releases every day at 10 AM from the Crist campaign to show his past associations with Republicans and conservatives.
“It highlights Crist’s conservative record,” Hoffman said. “He may have left the Republican party to avoid that primary but he’s still a conservative, he still has those views on some issues and that’s why we’re doing them.”
(The Daily Caller’s Chris Moody contributed to this report).