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Meek says Crist tried to talk him into quitting Senate bid

By the CNN Wires Staff
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Meek: I'm not dropping out
  • Rep. Kendrick Meek says he will not exit the three-way Florida Senate race
  • Meek denies President Bill Clinton try to talk him into getting out of race
  • Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he spoke with the White House and Meek about a deal

(CNN) -- Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek said it was Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and not former President Bill Clinton who asked him to end his Senate bid in Florida.

Meek talked Friday about the issue during an interview with CNN's "American Morning."

Meek denied published reports that Clinton had tried to persuade him to drop out of the race because he might steal votes from Crist.

Crist is running for the Senate as an independent. Meek and Crist are in a race with Republican Marco Rubio.

Video: Rubio: 'Backdoor politics' in action
Video: 'Didn't initially' approach Meek
Video: Clinton sets record straight

"He never asked me to get out of the race. I never told him I was getting out of the race," Meek said, referring to Clinton. "Gov. Crist talked to me about getting out of the race. I recommend to the governor that he should consider getting out of the race."

The allegations bubbled up Thursday when Crist, the Republican-turned-independent Senate candidate, said he spoke with Meek and "several people" at the White House about having Meek step out of the race.

Crist, who appeared on Fox News, would not say who he spoke to at the White House, but said he spoke to Meek about the possible shift and that Meek was "considering it."

Crist said that he spoke with Doug Band, a counselor to Clinton, who Crist said acted as an intermediary, relaying information about whether Meek would end his Senate bid.

Meek denied any intent to exit the three-way race among Rubio, Crist and himself.

"Any rumor or any statement that I decided to get out of this race is inaccurate at best," Meek said at a Thursday night news conference.

Meek has said neither Clinton nor the Democratic National Committee called him to say he should get out of the race.

But Clinton said he did talk twice with Meek about ending his bid for Senate, but that he never discussed the issue with the White House.

"He was trying to determine what was the best thing for him to do," Clinton said in an interview with CNN's Susan Candiotti on Thursday. "I knew it was being discussed, people had discussed it on and off. It was no secret."

The CNN Political Unit contributed to this report.