Kendrick Meek delivered a stump speech and answered questions in Delray Beach, FL, Friday to a standing-room-only crowd. He’s the only legitimate Democratic candidate for the Senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez, so he has my support. His heart is in the right place, but his rhetoric isn’t. He’ll have to improve that dramatically to have a shot at winning the general election.
He should ace the primary; two of his opponents are wildly underfunded and the third is self-funded candidate Jeff Greene, a billionaire who cleaned up betting against the housing market through credit default swaps. If that’s not enough, he’s a former Republican who ran for a San Fernando Valley, California congressional seat in the 1980s.
Meek’s chances were never good; though Florida went for Obama in 2008, it was an uphill battle helped by a tanking economy that beat this red state blue. But things got a whole lot better when Republican hopeful and current Governor Charlie Crist turned independent, unable to out-teaparty his Republican challenger Marco Rubio. So its a three-way race.
Kendrick had good logic for his campaign plans. He’ll tar Crist with all the nutjob stuff he said when trying to out-conservative Rubio and then finish him off by calling him out as a affiliation-changing opportunist. His lack of name-recognition will be solved by non-stop campaigning and some aggressive advertising. With all the self-funded candidates, the tea-party independents, and the three way race, it should be a good year for Florida TV stations.
But Meek is not fast on his feet on the stump, especially in the Q and A. Obama raised the bar. The first three sentences after a question should be a direct answer, and that’s what Meek should be emulating. Asked a question about Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Meek meandered and never directly answered the question, when he easily could have. His mother (who represented his district before he did) voted against DOMA. He could have said, “We tried to stop this before it started, and the next best thing to do is repeal it.”
Instead, Meek emulated Joe Biden. He just talked, until his words led him into the canned “I’m a supporter of gay people” predigested spiel. That isn’t going to fly against a seasoned campaigner like newly-independent Crist, who helped Meek greatly when he went independent, but helped himself far more.