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Kendrick Meek: The White House Has My Back


On a campaign stop in Florida Wednesday, President Obama said Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Kendrick Meek is the "kind of fighter" that "we need" in the Senate. The "campaigner-in-chief" made the comment on his first trip down to Florida, only a week before the August 24th primary. The president's previous absence in the race, where Meek is the underdog, had left many wondering whether the Democratic candidate was essentially on his own.

Meek, however, insisted on "Washington Unplugged" Thursday that "The White House has answered the question constantly," arguing to CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer that he has the full backing of the administration.

Earlier this week on "Unplugged," Schieffer and New York Times' chief political correspondent Jeff Zeleny suggested the White House may not actually be disappointed if Independent Gov. Charlie Crist ends up winning the Senate seat in Florida.

Yet publicly the White House is standing by Meek. Over corned beef sandwiches at a South Beach deli Wednesday, President Obama picked up the lunch bill, telling Meek, "Don't say I never gave you anything."

The visit "was a good time, not only for my campaign, but for Alex Sink's campaign and giving Democrats direction in the primary is very important," Meek told Schieffer. Sink is running for Governor in Florida as a Democrat.

Former President Bill Clinton has also made multiple visits to Florida to stump for Meek.

The congressman faces billionaire Jeff Greene next Tuesday in a primary for the Senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez.

"My opponent just moved to Florida two years ago and was a Republican prior to that all of his life. He ran as a Republican in California. He is trying to ride the wave of this guy's a career politician," Meek told Schieffer.

Meek succeeded his mother, Congresswoman Carrie Meek, in the House of Representatives in 2003. He leads Greene in the most recent Quinnipiac poll by seven points. If he makes it out of the primary, he'll face Republican Tea Party candidate Marco Rubio and Republican-turned-Independent Gov. Crist.

"I'm a candidate that independents will vote for and also single digit Republicans," Meek told Schieffer as part of a continuing series on "Washington Unplugged," "Behind the Ballot."

CBS News' Kaylee Hartung also appeared on Thursday's "Washington Unplugged." Check it out above.

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