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Obama No Longer Shy About Meek

Now that Rep. Kendrick Meek’s (D-Fl.) poll numbers are improving in advance of his Aug. 24 Senate primary, President Obama finally decided that it might be a good time to show him some love. After referring to Meek as “the next Senator from the state of Florida” at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach yesterday, Obama made an unannounced stop at Jerry’s Famous Deli in South Beach with Meek and ordered them each a corned beef sandwich. After paying, Obama reportedly joked to his companion, “Don’t say I never gave you anything.”

Obama’s newfound favor for Meek, however, comes at a time when many Democrats are trying to inch away:

Democrats have semi-openly admitted that with Greene as the party’s nominee, they would feel little remorse in casting a vote for Crist — believing that the billionaire businessman is not fit to serve in the Senate. The same cannot be said of Meek.

One Democratic aide who has worked extensively in the state summed up the conventional wisdom thusly: “[We] clearly cannot publicly support Crist but if Meek is the nominee [we] know he… has no shot at winning statewide.”

All this negativity about Meek’s chances coming from Democrats is enough to make one wonder if maybe it’s part of the problem. After all, Democrats do enjoy a sizable lead in voter registration over Republicans in the state of Florida. But Crist is a well-known centrist figure with a lot of cash, and Rubio is raising a bunch of money as well. If Meek is going to have a chance at winning, his team notes, he’ll need some help from the Democratic establishment:

“Democrats who are supporting Crist are making a Rubio win much more likely,” said Steve Murphy who is handling media strategy for Meek. “That will quickly become apparent after Kendrick beats Greene decisively and begins consolidating Democrats. The rest is up to the White House and the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee].”

Murphy’s last point may be the most important one in assessing Meek whether Meek will be a serious candidate or a spoiler this fall.

Meek will be heavily outraised and outspent by both Crist ($8 million on hand as of Aug. 4) and Rubio ($4.5 million) even if he is the nominee. Without help — in the form of independent expenditure effort funded by the DSCC — it’s hard to imagine Meek growing his Miami-base enough to become a contender.

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