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Politics

Obama Showing More Signs of Support for Kendrick Meek

August 18, 2010 - 6:00pm

With less than a week until the primary election, President Barack Obama showed U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek his strongest support to date for the Democratic nomination in the U.S. Senate election in November.

Meek faces billionaire financier Jeff Greene and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre in Tuesdays primary.

Obama was in Miami Beach for a fund-raiser for the Florida Democratic Party Wednesday night and, on the way there, stopped off at a deli in South Beach with Meek in tow -- providing a photo op for Meek, who trails in the pollsboth independent Gov. Charlie Crist and likely RepublicannomineeMarco Rubio.

While there have been criticisms from some Florida Democrats, namely U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, that the president has done little for Meek, administration officials said Obama is backing him.

I can't control whether people ask questions about the presidents strong and unwavering support for Kendrick Meek, said Bill Burton, the White House deputy press secretary. Hes said that he is his candidate. Florida Democrats know that he is his candidate.Hes been down there. Hes raised money for the Florida Democratic Party. Hes introduced Meek at events as the next United States senator from the state.So, given all that, I don't know that people will stop asking questions regardless of what he does. But Kendrick Meek will be involved in the event today and you will hear from him.

I think that the president has fully embraced Kendrick Meek, added Burton. We envision this as going down and helping out Florida Democrats.

On Thursday, Greene responded to the White House backing Meek at an event in Tallahassee.

Im not running on endorsements, said Greene who talked about his experience in the private sector. Kendrick Meek is running on a list of endorsements and few accomplishments.

Greene also took a shot at Crist, attacking the governor for the states continued high unemployment rate and the oil spill in the Gulf.

Greene was in Tallahassee to tour the Leon County Public School systems bus depot, where they have eight new buses running on compressed natural gas, with four more on the way in September.

Its such a huge win, said Greene after he toured the facility and even rode on one of the school buses through the eastern part of Tallahassee. I cant believe we havent done this sooner.

Greene, who is trailing behind Meek in recent polls, said he would support tax incentives for alternative energies if elected to the Senate. People modify their behavior when you give them an instinctive to do it, he said.

The candidate rejected assertions that his support for increased natural gas usage contradicted his opposition to offshore drilling, noting that natural gas could be obtained on land.

In contrast to Meek, who campaigned with former President Bill Clinton and former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham earlier in the week, Greene was campaigning without any prominent Democrats at his side.

Ive been running against the Democratic establishment since I got in this race, said Greene.

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

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