October 29th, 2010
02:30 PM ET

Letters to the President: #648 'No white flags'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Former President Clinton made news by trying to get a Democrat out of the running in Florida…uh, then he and the candidate in question said he didn’t…so who knows what happened? Certainly not me…I’ve been too busy writing letters to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

I don’t know what to think. At first I thought it was really interesting that a former president would ask a current Democratic Senate candidate to drop out of a race; then I thought it was even more interesting that he and the candidate denied it, because certainly some kind of conversations were taking place; then I thought it was even more interesting that the former president said he did talk to the candidate, but not about precisely what everyone is talking about. Now, I’m just worn out, and thoroughly confused.

Of course what I’m talking about is this supposed effort by former President Clinton to get Florida Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race.

Let me see if I follow the theoretical logic. A) If Meek dropped out, maybe his support would go to the former-Republican-now-independent candidate Gov. Charlie Crist. And B) If enough of the newly cast off Democrats followed that path, maybe Crist would beat the Republican, Marco Rubio. And C) Maybe then, a newly-minted Sen. Crist would caucus with the Democrats in Washington instead of the Republicans.

Is it just me, or are there a lot of “ifs” in there?

Whatever was or was not done to push this Machiavellian scheme, I have trouble seeing the long term wisdom in it. For example, what kind of message would your party send by asking a young, African-American candidate in a critical state to just give up? I realize his poll numbers look bad, but at some point Hillary Clinton was mathematically unable to beat you for the Democratic nomination and yet she fought on, earning a lot of respect across the political spectrum. Also, I’m not sure that I can recall even one clear instance where this idea of “handing off” votes from one candidate to another has worked across a gulf like this one.

Of course, there are now suggestions that some or all of this was being orchestrated by Crist in the first place. I guess we’ll get to the bottom of it eventually.

That said, sometimes seems to me that teams turn to tactics that can actually undermine their overall strategy. While this concept might seem appealing in one sense, in another it would look like waving a white flag of surrender. My advice is the same that I’d give to any president with even rumors of something like this roiling around: Be careful that the people who are putting themselves on the line to build your party, don’t feel as if the rug is being pulled out from under them by the very people they are trying to help.

Only a few days left. Call if you can.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    as the days get closer, any move politicians make are heavily magnified ten times more than the usual news blurb. Danger, Will Robinson!


    October 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm |