January 8th, 2009
02:56 PM ET
5 years ago

Caroline Kennedy's lack of experience noted by Paterson

Caroline Kennedy has expressed interest in serving as Hillary Clinton's Senate replacement.
Caroline Kennedy has expressed interest in serving as Hillary Clinton's Senate replacement.

(CNN) – New York Gov. David Paterson says Caroline Kennedy's lack of elected office experience "does not help her" in her drive to fill the senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton.

Paterson, as New York's governor, has the sole authority to name a replacement to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat after she resigns, as expected, to serve as President-elect Obama’s secretary of state.

In an interview with the Buffalo News Thursday morning, Paterson said elective experience is one factor, but not the only one, in his decision making process. Kennedy's "lack of elected experience does not help her,” he said, “but the point is, it's the combination of experiences I'll look at in terms of all the candidates, and also how balanced the ticket would look."

Kennedy, daughter of the late president John F. Kennedy and niece of Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, is one of at least a half a dozen candidates who have publicly expressed interest in succeeding Clinton. But because of her family name, Kennedy's received the most media attention - and because she's never served or even run for public office, she's received the most scrutiny.

A majority of voters nationwide feel that Kennedy is qualified to be a U.S. senator, according to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. The survey also found that more women than men think that Kennedy is qualified to serve as a senator.

The candidate named to replace Clinton would need to run for the office in a special election in 2010 - and if they won that contest, would need to run for re-election in 2012 when Clinton's term ends. Paterson will also be on the ballot in 2010, so his Senate appointee would be running alongside the governor on the Democratic ticket.

Paterson also commented on the media's apparent fascination with Kennedy. "One thing that helps her is the tremendous attention that you all give her works to her advantage. Maybe if you didn't give her so much attention she wouldn't have it," he said.

"The notion that I have to take Caroline is not coming from me," he added. "What I would say is that, to the media, it's Caroline and the others. To me, it's there are 10 to 15 good candidates."

Paterson said he won't name a successor until Clinton steps down from her seat, which wouldn't come until the full Senate votes to confirm her. That vote is expected on January 20th, the day Obama is inaugurated as president.


Filed under: Caroline Kennedy • David Paterson
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. sandee in Portland

    Even though I'm a democrat, I think Caroline Kennedy is no different than Sarah Palin, with the exception that at least Caroline is intelligent. However, that being said, I still think our country should be through with these political dynasties. Enough with the Clinton, Bush and Kennedy clans. We need new blood like PE Obama. New blood means new thinking instead of doing politics the same old way.

    January 8, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Karen-Phoenix

    She has a law degree and worked for the public schools in New York! What more does she need? She also gave her father up for this country!

    January 8, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. DJ in TX

    BTW – What experience did Senator Clinton have before running?? She was the 1st Lady, that's it. She didn't even live in the state hardly any prior to that.

    Not dissing Senator Clinton, but rather showing you this experience thing is overblown.

    January 8, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Lisa

    BTW- Here is a list of the qualifications needed:

    Thirty years of age, a US Citizen for nine years, and a state resident.

    January 8, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. MJ

    Who cares if this women has experience or not? I personally think that all those who have experience now she be ousted since they have done such a great job of mucking things up. I would run if I had the money to compete so kudos to her for trying! The only qualification you need to be senator is a large bank account. Go Carolyn! And shame on all those nay sayers who condemn the woman for going to the family business. Not to mention if she is not qualified that means no average citizen should run for office. Boo on all of you.

    January 8, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Gracie

    I will TAKE Caroline Kennedy over these fumbling bafoons....

    !. Sarah "The ignorant Pitt Bull" Palin
    2. George "The Comatose" W. Bush
    3. George "The loser" Senior Bush
    4. Jeb "The Convict" Bush.... and any other Bushes in the Bush
    5. Rudy "Thug Man" Gulliani who is one of the biggest Republican THUG.
    6. John "The Crooked Talker" McCain
    7. Gov. "I'd rather pay for a hooker" Spritzer
    8. Arnold "I don't know Jack" Swartzenenegger
    9. Gov. Charlie "Mr. Tan Man" Christ... who sold out his own state to the devil by moving the primary dates up.

    So... let's NOT even go there okay. OOOOOOkay.

    January 8, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. John

    Lol.....it's fun watching you libs try to take up for Caroline. The same ones who threw stones at Palin for being inexperienced. How do you look yourselves in the mirror at night?

    January 8, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Ellie

    I'll TAKE Caroline Kennedy OVER any one else and her lack of experience is a PLUS rather than a liability. She'll BRING real change to this Senate seat and will make ALL Americans proud. She's got a really good head on her shoulders and she's a very brilliant lady.

    Don't get it twisted, Caroline Kennedy is WHAT New York needs.

    January 8, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. Jerry

    What the hell is Paterson waiting on? Just pick someone already. Kennedy doesn't have enough experience? Great. Then CHOOSE SOMEONE ELSE.

    January 8, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  10. Patrick Tull

    The difference between Caroline and Sarah is, we the people know who Caroline Kennedy is; when Sarah was introduced to us, most never heard of her. The only question we have to answer about Caroline is not if she is qualified, it is, does she have what it takes to handle the job.

    January 8, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. adam

    All the Kennedy's need to be erased from our history. What a horrible family!!!!! And all the democrats that are supporting her...come on people...wake up...you know nothing about her except her last name!!! JFK was a horrible president at that!! Ted is a killer!!!!! So why are Americans supporting her???

    Jeb Bush for President!!!!

    January 8, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Booker T

    maybe Patterson has some sense after all. This is the biggest joke that Caroline would ever get appointed in the first place. A woman that has never faced the new york voters on any issues facing them.

    Hillary ran. And went up against Guiliani before the wuss dropped out due to, cough cough, health reasons.

    January 8, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. Benn

    posting is such a sham. My comments are less caustic than those posted after me, yet, mine are still under review.

    January 8, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Proud Republican

    hey look there another politician with no experience and will more than likely win their seat because of their fame, sounds like someone other odly familiar democrat!

    Oh whatever this is america, any lazy democrat can have whatever job they want i guess! as long as you pay the right price for it!

    January 8, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. boered1

    john white to follow up on your statement... is a liar and an idiot?

    actually this notion that politicians and the mouthbreathing public tht in order to be a representative/senator/president etc you must have experiance is counter to what the framers of the Constitution desired.. they wanted not lifelong politicians but citizen servants... ones who take time off from their lives to serve maybe if we had more of these types we would have fewer problems. Of course there is also the problem of the "palen effect" you know stupid airheads that fool people into thinking they have the abilities to do the job.

    idiots

    January 8, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. cfz

    I am no fan of Sarah Palin and think she deserved all the media scrutiny she got. But why should Caroline Kennedy receive any less scrutiny, especially when she seems even less articulate than Palin (um, you know)? At least Sarah Palin was elected to office twice. Really, what has Caroline Kennedy ever done to deserve this post? Her name and the fact that she is a nice person are not enough. Enough with the double standards.

    January 8, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. NV, NYC

    Also, she can't put together two sentences, you know.

    January 8, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  18. Veronica

    Caroline Kennedy is the Sarah Palin of the Democratic party (shhh! And so is Barack!)

    best joke of the day! comparing Barack(your PE) to Palin.Is like comparing apples and oranges.Barack is intelligent,knows how to give an interview and READS!! UNLIKE THAT BIMBO.

    January 8, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. Del

    What was Hillary's "elected office experience ?"

    January 8, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  20. Wayne

    She's completely ready for a senate seat:

    a. Absolutely no experience
    b. A millionaire
    c. A democrat
    d. A Kennedy (I think I can stop there)

    I noticed some comparisons to Sarah Palin – I don't know of any way Caroline can come up to a Palin standard –
    Sarah gained her position in life through hard work. Caroline gained hers by being born. Sarah was the only non-millionaire running for a seat in the last election; nobody questioned the gowns/dresses worn by the Obama/Biden wives to determine if they were paid for by the taxpayer or themselves...wonder why???

    January 8, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. BAK

    As Mo Dowd said in the New York Times earlier this week, Caroline Kennedy would make a great senator!

    January 8, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  22. Amber

    Experience and qualifications: two entirely different things.

    January 8, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  23. a lifelong democrat

    People hear the name Kennedy and they are blinded by it. Caroline Kennedy reached the age of 50 without showing interest in public office and has never been actively involved in public or political affairs.She has not held a job, other than doing volunteer work (as in NYC) and charitable fund raising. The volunteer work she did for the NY schools was available to her because of connections not due to her track record. A law degree does not in of itself qualify her to be senator. The position of U.S. Senator for New York State requires more than she has shown. If she wishes to hold public office, let her begin at the bottom, locally, as other people have done. Prove herself then aspire further.

    January 8, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. Fed up before it starts

    Right now every single powerful New York State position is held by someone who lives and works south of the Tappanzee Bridge.

    Give us some confidence, Governor, that you know that there is a great big state out there, NOT just New York City.

    Choose an upstate person for the Senate seat, or at the very least, choose an experienced legislator – someone who doesn't need a map to find her way around.

    January 8, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  25. Fed up before it starts

    Right now every single powerful New York State position is held by someone who lives and works south of the Tappanzee Bridge.

    Give us some confidence, Governor, that you know that there is a great big state out there, NOT just New York City.

    Choose an upstate person for the Senate seat, or at the very least, choose an experienced legislator – someone who doesn't need a map to find her way around the Capitol.

    January 8, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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