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A Meek Endorsement

A week after withdrawing an expected endorsement, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) formally threw his support to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the 2008 presidential race. [IMGCAP(1)]

He will serve as a senior adviser to her campaign.

“Where Hillary Clinton needs me, I will go and deliver her message of hope and opportunity to all Americans,” Meek said in a statement.

It was reported last week that Meek was set to endorse Clinton, but the next day he drew back and sent a letter to her campaign saying that was not the case.

Fonz and Fred. Ending one of the top mysteries in New York politics, former Sen. Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.) told a cable TV audience Tuesday evening that he is supporting a former colleague, ex-Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), for president.

“I think he can provide America with the kind of leadership that the people desperately need and that this country needs,” D’Amato said on NY-1, an all-news cable channel where he appears as a regular commentator. “And you know, if America doesn’t have a leader that the world can look up to, the world is in trouble.”

D’Amato’s posture on the White House race had been the source of much speculation for several weeks. In 2000, when most of the Empire State Republican establishment was lining up behind then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R), D’Amato endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — someone he remains friendly with to this day. Several current and former D’Amato lieutenants are supporting the Arizonan’s presidential bid this time around, and D’Amato helped McCain line up the keynote speaking slot at the New York GOP fundraiser earlier this spring.

But as soon as that fundraising dinner was over, most New York Republicans — including state GOP Chairman Joseph Mondello, a longtime D’Amato ally — endorsed the presidential bid of their favorite son, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R). Mondello has said that one of the main reasons he’s backing Giuliani is because he believes the New Yorker is the best possible nominee for Empire State GOP candidates further down the ballot.

D’Amato and Giuliani have a long and tortuous history in their quarter-century relationship — sometimes as allies, but just as often as combatants. The question now is whether D’Amato, the former kingpin of New York Republican politics but now nine years out of office, has enough juice left to sway other GOP pols into Thompson’s column.

— Lauren W. Whittington and Josh Kurtz