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MSNBC "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

MEEK: Thank you, Keith. Glad to be on the show.

OLBERMANN: For 24 hours now, these various reports have been flying in every direction, that President Clinton had discussions about dropping out of the race and endorsing Governor Crist, the independent, in that race, that there was a date chosen for an endorsement rally.

Is any part of this story true?

MEEK: It"s not true. The president came down and performed two--had two rallies for me here in Florida, one in Orlando, one in St. Petersburg. In Orlando, we were talking about the race and the rumors that have been going on for several weeks that I was going to drop out of the race. I told him there was no truth to it.

Obviously, we know as of last night that learned the Governor Crist was not only calling the Clinton aides but also calling the White House and calling me, too. I got a call from him like at 4:57 a.m. Monday morning wanting to talk to me about getting out of the race was a nonstarter. I saw him later that day at an APAC event in Hollywood, nonstarter.

The president and I are good friends. He"s held a number of events for my campaign. We talked about the issues. He told about his political past, never once said anything about me getting out of the race. I never once told him I was getting out of the race.

So, I"m here. I"m fighting on behalf of the people of the state of Florida and I"m not going to sell out on them now.

OLBERMANN: Let me play part of what Governor Crist said last night on this newscast about whether or not those discussions had occurred and his knowledge of it. Here"s the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRIST: Well, those discussions did occur. I can tell you that much. How would I know? Because I had numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Are you saying, Congressman, that Governor Crist is completely mistaken, that he just made this up out of whole cloth?

MEEK: What I can tell you right now, Governor Crist wasn"t in the room when President Clinton and I were talking. And I"m just going to put it this way. There"s something very wrong with Charlie Crist"s accounts of the events that took place.

I mean, he"s a Republican that went down and became an independent, still holding onto views that he brought with him from the Republican Party. He"s in a three-way race right now. A part of his victory plan is me getting out of this race. That"s a nonstarter.

We have people that have voted for me, Keith. He wasn"t there. I"m telling you I was there.

President Clinton released a statement even today saying that he never asked me. I never said that I was getting out. So, whatever the governor wants to promote in his campaign strategy is his own account of what took place.

But I can tell you, the people of the state of Florida has rallied around my campaign and gone on KendrickMeek.com. They contributed. They are fired up. And people are going to the polls, because this is the kind of politics that folks don"t look forward to and hate to hear about.

But unfortunately, it"s being promoted by the governor. He wasted not time whatsoever to not only going to your show but other shows, to talk and proud of the fact that he called the White House and he called me, that he called the Clinton aides. He was pushing this issue.

Again, he called me at 4:57 a.m. Now, when your phone rings at 4:57 a.m., either a family member is in real trouble or it"s something really bad going on somewhere. And to try to meet with me to get me out of this race is just not a part of my campaign strategy.

I"m working forward. I"m looking forward to being the next United States senator, and we"re going to work all the way to Tuesday at 7:00.

OLBERMANN: What would you make then of the statement from President Clinton"s spokesman, Matt McKenna and he told "The New York times" President Clinton had come close to persuading you to drop out?

MEEK: Well, I"m going to tell you this: when Matt McKenna, I don"t know, he wasn"t in the room. I never talked to him.

I can tell you this: President Clinton is a very good friend of mine. We talk politics all the time. Never once did he convince me or try to convince me to get out of this race. And he released a statement today saying that.

I think it"s very, very important--and I"m smiling because, you know, you don"t come down and do a rally on I-4 corridor in Orlando and St. Petersburg with a goal of getting a person out of the race. So, I just ask people to look at the logic of this whole thing.

And I am looking forward to whoever is behind the curtains pulling the lever, that they will be revealed. But I will assure you this and the people of the state of Florida, that they don"t have to count on me--well, they can worry about me. They don"t have to worry about me getting out of this race, because I"m not, and they can count on me because I"ve been there.

I"m the only pro-choice candidate. I"m the only candidate against offshore oil drilling. And I"m the only candidate endorsed by veterans.

OLBERMANN: With all respect to the effort that you made in this race, that latest Quinnipiac poll places you in third place at 15 percent of the vote. Obviously, polls fluctuate. They"re wrong sometimes totally. They"re wrong sometimes in small degrees. But that indicates a decline from the previous week.

And the argument, if there is one from Democrats who bought into this idea, is not that they prefer Crist over you, but that they prefer Crist over Rubio and they preferred anybody over Rubio, and that you could make a move that could affect that outcome even if you do not or not to win this race. If you pass on that opportunity and in January, Rubio is sworn in as the junior senator from Florida, how would you feel then?

MEEK: Keith, let me say this. Polls are polls. Today, Mason-Dixon came out and said I was at 21 percent. Charlie Crist is just six percentage points ahead of me. The only poll I believe in is one that comes in on Election Day. You"re looking at a candidate that defeated a billionaire in the primary election. We were down by 10 points. We won by 26 points.

I am--me in and out of this race is not going to change the outcome.

We"ve been running for two years now. Everyone presented their case. We"re running our campaign. Now, at the last minute, they kind of come up and say, hey, you"re the problem. Now, you need to get out of the race now.

Now, you"re looking at the candidate--again, Democratic nominee, and I qualify by petition. People of the state of Florida signed a petition to place me on the ballot. It took us over a year to do that. There are people that have already voted and there are people that are counting on me to be their next United States senator.

Again, I am the only candidate in this race: 100 percent environmental record, 100 percent pro-choice record and 100 percent behind the effort to stop offshore oil drilling in this state and willing to get Floridians back to work. I"m not going to--you know, there"s not any back room deals with me, and anyone that knows me know that I have been in this place, in this position before. I was born down in the polls, and I work every day to make sure that we stretch (ph) our way to the top and Floridians understand that.

OLBERMANN: But let me finally just make sure I have it straight. The bottom line here is that you are willing to continue to bet that Senate seat that whether it"s 27 polling points to be made up in one week or the 7 points that cite behind Mr. Crist that you can make that up in a three-way race in now four days?

MEEK: The bottom line is, is that I"m in this race. I mean, where I am in the polls should not be an issue, Keith. I mean, you know that. I mean, for me to say, OK, now I"m out--now, all of a sudden I"m behind someone I don"t believe in, Charlie Crist, please? Marco Rubio, please?

People are voting right now. We have an opportunity to win this race as long as we"re in the race. It"s just--it is just silly that to even think anything else, and the bottom line--and all due respect and I have a great deal of respect for you--but anyone that believes in democracy knows that you don"t surrender the flag because someone says you should surrender. You never surrender.

We changed the Constitution in Florida, making class sizes smaller. If I would have surrendered against George W. Bush when he wanted to privatize Social Security, saying--oh, because he"s the president, he has the majority, we"re not going to win. We fought and we will continue to fight. And just like the people who have gone on KendrickMeek.com and supported us, Keith, they"re going to continue to do that.

I guarantee you this and I"ll say it right here, we"re going to do better than a lot of people think. And I will tell you this, if Marco Rubio ran the best campaign or Charlie Crist or me, the victor will be rewarded with the people of the state of Florida, a plurality of those registered voters, they will vote for him to be the next United States senator.
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To approach me and to release a story five days before an election day to say, oh, you"re the problem--believe me, history will show that I did everything I was supposed to do, that I have an opportunity to become the next United States senator and anything else is really off the table.

And so, I think this is a testimonial to my word, testimonial to the people that believe in my candidacy and the testimonial to driving the Democratic vote and the moderate vote here in Florida out.

OLBERMANN: Congressman Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee for the Senate in Florida--

MEEK: Thank you.

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