Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) is the only Senate candidate to
get face time with two Democratic presidents this election cycle, despite media
reports in recent months that suggest the national party wasn’t committed to
Bill Clinton has headlined five fundraisers for Meek during
the course of his primary campaign. Just this week, he made three campaign
stops with Meek, and on Friday, the candidate's campaign released a
robocall featuring the former president.
Meek grabbed some media coverage with the president by greeting
him on the airport tarmac in Miami and by later joining him at a South Beach deli
for a corned beef sandwich.
The Meek camp said the time with Obama and Clinton is a major plus for the congressman heading into Tuesday's primary. They also said its vindicated Meek's claim that he is the “real Democrat" in the race.
"It's a really big deal," Meek spokesman Adam Sharon said of the visits from Clinton and Obama. "It's humbling to be campaigning and in the presence of a former and current president, and to have those [visits] happen within 48 hours of one another is remarkable."
Meek will square off Tuesday against the self-funded billionaire Jeff Greene in what has been one of the nastiest and most surprising Democratic primaries of the year.
Greene has spent close to $23 million of his own money on
the race but has been dogged by a slew of negative stories alleging wild parties
on his private yacht and carousing with former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson.
Florida strategists say the support from Clinton and last week's fundraiser shout-out from Obama have put Meek in a solid position despite Greene’s ad blitz on television.
"The big guns have come down and embraced him," said Florida pollster Tom Eldon. "When you have your face on TV next to Obama and Clinton — that's as good as millions of dollars of TV advertising."
The relationship between Meek and the White House was strained during the course of the primary season. The White House had to deny reports that independent Senate candidate Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist spoke with chief of staff Rahm Emanuel about the possibility of an Obama endorsement if he ran as a Democrat.
Emanuel later headlined a fundraiser in Washington for Meek.
In a July interview with The Hill, Meek said he was anticipating more help from the White House down the final stretch of the campaign.
“I believe that Democrats in Florida want some direction,”
Meek said at the time. “The help from the White House is very important, not
only to my campaign, but to show primary voters that I’m the real Democrat in
The Meek camp is betting that Greene's spending works against him with Democratic primary voters. The campaign has worked to paint him as an out of touch billionaire who's trying to buy his way into the Senate.
"By Tuesday night, 'Meltdown Mogul' Jeff Greene will have spent a fortune most Floridians could only dream of on his campaign of lies and distortions," Meek campaign spokesman Adam Sharon said in a statement Friday.
The final Quinnipiac poll ahead of Tuesday's primary put Meek up 7 points over Greene. The congressman led Greene 35 percent to 28 percent in the poll, but a full 19 percent of likely primary voters remained undecided.
And among those who told Quinnipiac they have made up their minds, 32 percent said they could change them by Tuesday.
Should Meek win on Tuesday, he will face an even harder climb in the run up to November.
Gov. Charlie Crist (I) has been wooing Democratic voters and donors with some success over the past few months. Some Democrats have expressed concern that Meek could split enough votes with Crist in the general election to hand the race to Republican Marco Rubio.