The former president’s top aide, Doug Band, initially served as the intermediary between Meek and Crist, and Clinton became involved only when Meek signaled that he would seriously consider the option, Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna confirmed to POLITICO.
Clinton campaigned with Meek in Florida on Oct. 19 and 20, and thought he had won Meek over in an evening conversation the night they spent together in Jacksonville. But as the week wore on, Meek lost his enthusiasm for the arrangement, spurred in part, a third Democratic source said, by his wife’s belief that he could still win the race. Clinton spoke with Meek again at week’s end, three Democrats said, and again Meek said he would drop out.
“It was a completely done deal,” one source said.
The Crist, Meek and Clinton camps even set a date for an endorsement rally: the following Tuesday, Oct. 26. Meek was to give Crist his blessing and explain to his disappointed supporters — many of whom deeply distrust the governor, who was elected as a Republican — that their votes could save the Senate for the Democrats and save America from the rise of Rubio, who is viewed both as a hard-line conservative and a potential national figure.
The White House, Democrats said, had knowledge of the plans and viewed them as a path to capturing the Senate seat, but did not initiate the talks.
Last weekend, however, Meek changed his mind.
“Not being seen as a quitter was more important than stopping someone who was so opposed to what you and your party had stood for,” said one Democrat who had been hoping to close the deal.
Representatives for Meek and for the White House did not respond immediately to questions about the plans.