Republicans instantly sought to gain from the episode surrounding Meek.
"One can only imagine the response if Republican leadership tried to force out of the race — in the 11th hour — a qualified black candidate like Kendrick Meek," RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement.
Clinton downplayed that, saying of course the Republicans want Rubio to win.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. earlier this month said that Meek cannot win the race and instead endorsed Crist. He called the Florida Senate race the most critical in the country and urged voters to combat what he calls the radical tea party movement by voting for Crist.
Crist's camp said the Politico report was accurate, and that Crist "is the one candidate who can defeat tea party extremist Marco Rubio and deliver bipartisan results for Florida in Washington."
Many Florida voters have already cast early and absentee ballots, so even if Meek dropped out it might have only a marginal effect. His name also would remain on the Election Day ballot.
Meek said he saw no advantage to withdrawing.
"There's no negotiation about me getting out of the race — that's the bottom line."