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Politics

With Help From Bill Clinton, Kendrick Meek Looks to Pull Ahead of Jeff Greene

June 27, 2010 - 6:00pm

Facing a serious challenge from billionaire investor Jeff Greene for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate and trailing independent Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican candidate Marco Rubio in the polls, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek looked to shore up his support by stressing his credentials on womens issues and by calling on former President Bill Clinton for help.

The Meek campaign unveiled a new line of attack on Greene Monday during a conference call with womens leaders from across the state, including Barbara Devane from the National Organization of Women; Alison Morano from the Pasco County Democrats; former Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden; Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, former alternate U.S. representative to the U.N. Security Council; and representatives from the Florida Federation of Business and Professional Women.

The womens leaders praised Meeks record on their issues and bashed Greene for having no record of public service. They also stressed that Meek has always been pro-choice, contrasting him with Crist. While Crist has been pro-life for most of his career, since leaving the Republican Party in April, he vetoed a measure that passed the Legislature that would have required women considering an abortion in the first trimester to have an ultrasound.

Talking about Meek, Devane said, He has been an advocate for women his whole career.

Kendrick Meek understands the need for laws to back equal rights, said Soderberg. He is clearly pro-choice and understands the need for health-care reform.

The womens leaders attacked Greene forhaving no record on their issues and for his friendship with infamous Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and former heavyweight champion and convicted rapist Mike Tyson, who was the best man at Greenes wedding. The womens leaders hammered Greene over his personal life.

Speaking of Greene, Devane said, Hes been a playboy in California, moving from one woman to another.

But while Meek supporters attack Greene for his personal relationships, the campaign featured a fund-raising appeal from a more well-established womanizer than their rival for the nomination -- former President Bill Clinton.

On Friday, the Meek camp sent out another letter from Clinton seeking to raise another $100,000 before the second-quarter reporting deadline of June 30. The Meek campaign sent out a fund-raising letter under Clintons name last year.

Almost 20 years ago, when I first met Kendrick Meek, I knew he had the potential to become a strong leader and a fine public servant, wrote Clinton. Kendrick has spent the last two decades faithfully serving the people of Florida, staying true to his core beliefs and giving everything he has to improving the lives of others. Now he's running against multiple opponents for the U.S. Senate.

"I know a little something about three-candidate races, wrote Clinton, who ran against independent candidate Ross Perot as well as the Republican nominees in 1992 and 1996. I believe that Kendrick Meek is the best candidate, and that he's got a real shot at winning, but only if he gets our help now.

Clinton also contrasted Meek with the rest of the field.

Once Floridians know about Kendrick's record of looking out for them and not his own self-interest -- of consistent leadership on issues like education, health care, choice, and immigration -- they'll see that he's the best candidate to move our country forward and fix the problems we're facing, wrote the former president. Floridians can't afford a senator who embraces the destructive politics and failed policies of the past.

Three polls from earlier in the month showed that the Democratic nominee, whether it was Meek or Greene, was mired in third place.

A Rasmussen Reports poll had Crist and Rubio with 37 percent each, with Meek trailing far behind at 15 percent. When Greene replaced Meek as the Democratic nominee, the poll found Crist ahead with 41 percent, Rubio remaining at 37 points and Greene with 13 percent. A poll from Quinnipiac University had Crist with 37 percent, Rubio with 33 percent and Meek lagging behind with 17 percent. The Quinnipiac poll had Crist with 40 percent, Rubio still at 33 while Greene had 13 percent. A poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce Political Institute and Cherry Communications showed Crist leading the U.S. Senate race with 42 percent,31 percent for Rubio and Meek in third with 14 percent.

The Quinnipiac poll found a dead heat in the Democratic primary battle with37 percent of the voters undecided, Meek pulling 29 percent and Greene right behind him with 27 percent, easily within the polls margin of error. Former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, who is also running for the Democratic nomination, pulled 3 percent in the poll.

The Greene campaign had former West Palm Beach Mayor Carol Roberts vouch for their candidate on womens issues on Monday. "As senator, Jeff Greene will make womens issues a priority, said Roberts. He will protect a womans right to choose, fight for equal pay for equal work, ensure access to quality healthcare, create good-paying jobs, increase access to a college education and strengthen social security.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com, or at (850) 727-0859.

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