Double-Crist: Florida governor accused of spreading rumors his opponent would drop out

Mike Riggs Contributor
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Did Rep. Kendrick Meek and Gov. Charlie Crist plot Monday to join forces?

No, says Team Meek. “Let me check into it,” says Team Crist.

In other words, there’s still no straight answer to the question haunting Florida’s Senate election: What would happen if either Meek or Crist dropped out of the race and endorsed his fellow? Republican candidate Marco Rubio leads both men in the polls. Were their powers combined, Rubio might find himself in a dead heat with Kendrick Crist, or Charlie Meek.

While reports of a meeting between the two men are fresh, the rumors that Meek would drop out in order to clear the way for a left-leaning Crist began two weeks ago, says a Meek campaign staffer, who elaborated further after this article was originally published.

“Here’s what the timeline has been,” the staffer said. “On Oct. 6 we had the George Stephanopoulos debate in Orlando. Every press account of that event talked of Kendrick being a very passionate and dominating debater who brings a lot of energy to the table and the discussion.”

Late the next night, said the staffer, the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore floated a rumor that Meek would drop out.

“Republican leaders in the Sunshine State are fretting that a deal may be in the works to get Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek out of the Florida Senate race in order to boost Charlie Crist’s flagging chances of beating Republican Marco Rubio,” Moore wrote from Tampa.

The Meek staffer who spoke to TheDC believes that Moore received the tip from someone in the Crist campaign who knew the WSJ writer from his time in New York.

“The governor had a very lackluster performance because he’s not standing on firm ground,” the staffer said. “Then the rumors began with a blog post in the Wall Street Journal by Stephen Moore, who’s not a political reporter, he’s a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board.”

The staffer said that he’s received calls from journalists working all over the state of Florida. “This rumor got spread by the Crist campaign, this ‘We hope you’re not being scooped by an out of state newspaper’ thing was going on.”

The staffer reiterated that Meek is not dropping out of the race, and in fact plans, to go on a 24-hour campaign blitz across Florida starting on Sunday.

“We said this when these rumors began a week ago, two weeks ago, and obviously Kendrick has said it in his own words: He’s running with two feet forward. “

The Daily Caller contacted representatives for both campaigns after a tipster claimed that Meek and Crist disappeared for a private talk at Monday’s AIPAC event in Hollywood, Fla. Neither campaign confirmed the private meeting initially, but a Meek staffer did call back to say, “Yes [Meek] met with Charlie Crist for a few minutes. Just like he met with Marco Rubio. There is absolutely no talk of dropping out.”

“We know the Crist campaign has pushed the rumor that [Meek] is dropping out. Those rumors were bought and paid for by Charlie Crist U.S. Senate,” the staffer said.

“Today on the radio [Meek] gave a very strong, impassioned speech about why he’s going to be the next senator from Florida. His debate performances have always been of a passionate engaged candidate who’s running to win. From our standpoint, since this began, has anything changed in this campaign?”

When initially called for comment, Crist spokesman Danny Kanner told TheDC, “Candidates get together and say things. Let me check into it.”

TheDC contacted Kanner about the Meek campaign’s allegations and was told in response, “We have been and remain focused on unifying the 60 percent of Floridians who are rejecting Tea Party extremist Marco Rubio behind Charlie Crist’s independent campaign.”