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Did Harry Reid Reach Out to Charlie Crist?

Florida Governor Charlie Crist is embroiled in a tough three-way Senate race with Tea Party star Marco Rubio (who CBS rates the probable victor of the contest) and Democrat Kendrik Meek. Just last week, the race heated up as the allegation emerged that former President Bill Clinton had asked Meek to drop out of the race in order to improve Crist's chances.
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, an Independent candidate for the Senate seat in Florida, speaks before the Florida Press in Sarasota, Fla.
AP

Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio is looking to stoke a controversy in the Florida Senate race over whether one of his rivals, former Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist, is conspiring with the Democratic leadership in the Senate.

Crist suggested in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reached out to ask if he would caucus with the Democratic Party if he wins the Florida race. If true, Reid's action would seem to indicate less than 100 percent support for the Democratic candidate in the race, Kendrick Meek, who is trailing both Crist and Rubio in polls. Reid denies reaching out, insisting that he backs Meek.

Interactive Map: CBS News Election 2010 Race Ratings

The Rubio camp released a statement today attacking both his chief opponent and the Democratic Party.

"The people of Florida deserve to know the truth from Charlie Crist about his dealings with Washington Democrats and Harry Reid specifically," Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said. "While the governor refuses to tell Floridians where he would sit in the United States Senate, is he cutting deals with Harry Reid and the Democrats in Washington to caucus with them? Or is the governor so desperate to be a Democrat that he is making up phone calls that never happened?"

He added: "...the spectacle of Harry Reid and Charlie Crist not being able to get their stories straight about who said what and when is just the latest reminder that Washington can't afford more politicians that will say and do anything for the sake of winning an election."

In an interview with the Washington Post yesterday, Meek also questioned Crist's motives, suggesting Crist is "trying to put a perception out that he has an ongoing working relationship with the Leader."

He added: "But if the governor is making it a part of his political campaign strategy, I think that's inappropriate and I don't think that reflects well on the governor."

The controversy is particularly interesting in light of the dynamics of the Senate race. Since becoming an independent, after Rubio opened a wide lead in the GOP primary fight, Crist has gravitated toward the left complicating matters for both Meek and Democratic rival Jeff Greene. A recent Rasmussen poll shows Crist maintaining a double-digit lead over both Meek and Greene and trailing Rubio by just two points in a head-to-head matchup.