Politics & Government

Did Clinton really ask Meek to step aside?

There are only two people in the world who know for sure whether former President Bill Clinton urged Democratic Senate Kendrick Meek to bow out of the race, and both of them are denying it.

Though the former president's spokesman confirmed reports that he told Meek to step aside so Gov. Charlie Crist could trip Republican Marco Rubio at the finish line, Clinton said Friday he did no such thing.

``We did talk last week following a rally in Orlando about the race and its challenges,'' Clinton said in carefully worded statement. ``I didn't ask Kendrick to leave the race, nor did Kendrick say that he would. I told him that how he proceeds was his decision to make and that I would support him regardless.''

Meek launched his own counteroffensive as yet another poll showed him mired in third place. He bounced over the airwaves from Fox and Friends to ABC's Good Morning America to MSNBC's Morning Joe -- roughly a dozen national television appearances by day's end.

Again and again, Meek accused Crist of cooking up the whole story.

``He will do anything to win, and if that's stepping on my back, so be it,'' Meek said after addressing hundreds of members of the teachers' union in Orlando. ``He's a hard-core politician. Don't let that smile on his face fool you.''

Meek also confirmed a bizarre story about Crist buzzing around Florida political circles -- that Crist offered him a cross and asked him to ``pray'' on whether to stay in the race. The venue: a American Israel Public Affairs Committee gathering Monday in Hollywood.

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