Clinton says he did not ask Meek to drop Florida Senate bid

Despite reports and confirmations that former President Clinton asked Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) to drop out of the Florida Senate race, Clinton said Friday afternoon that he did not.

In a statement, Clinton said he "didn't ask Kendrick to leave the race, nor did Kendrick say that he would."

{monads}A number of news organizations reported Thursday evening that Clinton asked and Meek agreed to drop out due to trailing poll numbers. According to the reports, Meek was supposed to endorse Gov. Charlie Crist (I) in order to stop conservative Republican Marco Rubio from winning the seat.

"Kendrick Meek is my close friend," Clinton said. "I have supported his campaign from the beginning, though our relationship extends far beyond politics. We did talk last week following a rally in Orlando about the race and its challenges.

"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."

Republicans seized on the news Thursday night, all but claiming victory in the race.

Clinton, who was asked by the White House to serve as a go-between in asking former Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff to withdraw earlier this year, heaped praise on Meek.

"Over the years, I have watched Kendrick become an able, effective public servant with the strength to fight for what he believes and the common sense to work with people of different parties and points of view," Clinton said. "I still believe he could be the best senator to help Florida and America emerge from the current crisis and build a growing middle-class economy."