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Meek has powerful supporter in ex-president Clinton

Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene has a photo of himself and Bill Clinton in the front hall of his Miami Beach condo, but it's not doing him any good on the campaign trail. Rival Kendrick Meek is the one getting loads of love from Clinton this election cycle — five fundraisers to date, two fundraising e-mails and on Aug. 16, Clinton-Meek rallies in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Meek campaigned tirelessly for Hillary Clinton, but his relationship with Bill Clinton goes back to 1991, when Meek was a state trooper and Clinton an obscure governor starting a presidential campaign. Meek was Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay's security guy, and he was dispatched to the Tallahassee airport to pick up Arkansas Gov. Clinton and a young aide named George Stephanopoulos. On the way into town, Clinton asked to make a stop.

"We stopped at the Suwanee Swifty on Lake Bradford Road where then-Gov. Clinton picked up some deodorant, roll-on. And he commenced putting it on in front of the Suwanee Swifty. As the protector of the governor, I didn't want him to go down putting on roll-on, but we bonded through the process," a chuckling Meek recounted last week aboard his "Real Dem Express" bus tour.

More than a year later, Trooper Meek saw Clinton again in Florida, though this time Clinton was president. Clinton was visiting the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, heading toward the presidential suite with an entourage in tow.

"I'm following his Secret Service agents and Gov. MacKay and the president turns around and says, 'Kendrick, we're a long way from the Suwanee Swifty,' " Meek recounted. "At that point, I can just tell you a little bit of pee came out. You know? How could this man remember?"

Yes, we're afraid the congressman did in fact refer to pee.

Turning point

No predictions here, but it's just possible that last week marked a turning point in Florida's volatile gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primaries. For the first time in a week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum was within single digits of Rick Scott, according to three polls. Meanwhile, a Mason-Dixon poll showed Democrat Meek barely ahead of Jeff Greene.

Could the self-funders have peaked too early?

No endorsement

Add another flip-flop to the growing list from our Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist. He and his wife Carole each donated $500 to McCollum's gubernatorial campaign last year, but now that Crist needs to woo Democrats, he's yanked his endorsement of McCollum.

"I am not going to endorse in that race," said Crist, who is running for the Senate as an independent. "I have my hands full with my race."

A clean sweep of endorsements?

Two statewide candidates, McCollum and Democratic attorney general candidate Dan Gelber, are on the way to sweeping endorsements from Florida's major newspapers. McCollum's endorsements include the Miami Herald, Naples Daily News, Tallahassee Democrat and St. Petersburg Times, while Gelber's include the Times, Herald, Daily News, Democrat, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, and Palm Beach Post.

Long-shot Ferre says he's not so bad

Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, a long-shot Democratic candidate for the Senate, appears today on Political Connections on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. His path to victory over Greene and Meek? "It's not that I'm a good candidate … but the other two are so bad."

Adam Smith is on Twitter at AdamSmithTimes and can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com.

Winner

of the week

Kendrick Meek. A Mason-Dixon poll shows Meek leading Jeff Greene, despite being dramatically outspent. Perhaps Greene's shifting stories about his yacht trip to Cuba are taking a toll. Meanwhile, Meek launched a statewide bus tour last week where he showed the kind of personal warmth and enthusiasm we haven't seen since Charlie Crist by mixing it up with every voter in sight.

Loser

of the week

Rick Scott. Let's get this straight: He says he learned big lessons and took responsibility for the systematic fraud that occurred while he led Columbia/HCA. But now we learn that even while he was running for governor, he had to settle — under secret terms — a lawsuit charging him with filing false medical licensing information with the state. Being deposed six days before announcing for governor doesn't exactly instill confidence.

Meek has powerful supporter in ex-president Clinton 08/07/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 7, 2010 11:41pm]

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