January 22nd, 2009
07:05 PM ET
9 months ago

Source: Paterson was not going to pick Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy is no longer interested in replacing Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate.
Caroline Kennedy is no longer interested in replacing Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate.

NEW YORK (CNN) - Gov. David Paterson had no intention of appointing Caroline Kennedy to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, a source close to the New York governor told CNN Thursday.

The source told CNN that Paterson did not think Kennedy was "ready for prime time," citing her efforts, at times awkward, at trying to win the appointment. She told the press at midnight as Wednesday turned into Thursday that she was withdrawing her name from consideration.

Paterson is charged with naming a replacement for Clinton, who resigned her seat to become the secretary of state in President Obama's administration.

"She clearly has no policy experience and couldn't handle the pressure," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. "Why would he pick her given how badly she handled herself in recent weeks?"

A Kennedy ally, though, denied that she had any indication he was leaning against choosing her to fill out Clinton's term.

And another Kennedy confidante said that Kennedy allies are getting frustrated about what they perceive as the governor's insiders slighting her.

The sharp denunciation of Kennedy by a Paterson ally opened a window into what appears to be a stressed courtship between the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy and the governor.

Paterson, who is expected to name his choice Friday, has been coy about who he will pick to replace Clinton. Kennedy had been very public in expressing her interest in succeeding the former first lady in the Senate by meeting with state and community leaders throughout the state.

Kennedy cited personal reasons in her decision not to continue pursuing the Senate seat.

"I informed Governor Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate," Kennedy said in the statement.

She did not offer any further explanation beyond the one line statement.

Her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, was rushed to the hospital on Tuesday following Obama's swearing-in ceremony. But an aide to Caroline Kennedy indicated that Sen. Kennedy's health was not the reason she decided to withdraw.

By early Thursday afternoon, there was still confusion over how and why Kennedy withdrew her name from consideration. The source close to the governor told CNN that Kennedy initially called Paterson in the afternoon to tell him that "she was feeling unsure about her candidacy" and "asked him for 24 hours to think about it."

A Kennedy aide said that during the call with the governor, it was Paterson who told her to take more time to think about her decision.

Later Wednesday evening, the governor started getting phone calls from the media saying that they heard she had withdrawn. At around 11 p.m. ET, the source close to the governor said that Kennedy called Paterson and "said she was issuing a statement saying she was in the race." One hour later, the source said that Kennedy issued a statement withdrawing from the race.

Paterson's office finally addressed the matter late Thursday afternoon in a prepared statement.

"Last night Caroline Kennedy informed the Governor that she was withdrawing her name from consideration for an appointment to the United States Senate for personal reasons," Paterson's office said. "This decision was hers alone."

Paterson's office acknowledged the Wednesday afternoon conversation between the governor and Kennedy, but did not divulge what was said during that call.

"Out of respect for her decision making process, the Governor's Office did not respond to any inquiries in order to allow her time to deliberate," Paterson's office said in the statement. "The Governor considers Caroline a friend and knows she will continue to serve New York well inside or outside of government. We wish her well in all her future endeavors."

Paterson's office also noted that he is "now entering the final phase of his selection process."

Kennedy was widely considered the front-runner to replace the former first lady, who won the New York Senate seat in 2000, and almost all of the buzz about a replacement centered around her. But as the weeks dragged on, polling showed her popularity among New Yorkers dwindling.

Paterson's office also stated that the governor had not obtained any information during the selection process that would prompt a candidate to withdraw. There have been a number of rumors speculating as to why Kennedy, a member of Obama's vice presidential search committee, decided to withdraw her name.

Despite the governor's public statement, the source close to the governor contradicted Paterson by telling CNN that Kennedy did have potentially embarrassing issues including problems with her taxes and with her nanny.

People who move in New York political circles were buzzing Thursday about the endless finger pointing between people loyal to Paterson and those loyal to Kennedy.

Contacted by CNN to address the allegations of problems with taxes and a nanny, Kennedy's spokesman Stefan Friedman said in a prepared statement: "Caroline Kennedy withdrew her name for consideration from the United States Senate for personal reasons. Any statements to the contrary are false. The governor set up a fair and deliberative selection process. This kind of mudslinging demeans that process and all those involved."

– CNN's Candy Crowley, Gloria Borger, John King, Dana Bash and Mark Preston contributed to this report


Filed under: Caroline Kennedy • David Paterson
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Withdrawing her name had to be caused by her not getting picked. I am she it wasn't from common sense, such as "Oh I guess I am not qualified even though mu name is Kennedy."

    January 22, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  2. Gordon

    Willy Brown–in your statement "a democrat not getting a political seat
    because they have no experience–SHOULD READ:

    January 22, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  3. S Callahan

    Why is it the Fox News has the scoop that Gov. Patterson is picking Kristin Gilabrand...........what is happeing over at CNN....come on guys...get your scoop...call F. Dicker!

    January 22, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. Gordon

    Let's try again. Willy Brown–in your statement "a democrat not
    getting a political seat because they have no experience"
    SHOULD READ: a democrate not getting a political seat because
    HE HAS no experience. And, "unless your #44" SHOULD BE
    "you're". Got that, idiot?

    January 22, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  5. Pippen

    Another tax cheat. Shocking, I know.

    January 22, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  6. Zachery

    My primary concern regarding the Kennedy issue pertains to her voting pattern, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Failure to participate in such an important civic duty should rightfully disqualify someone for running for political office.

    January 22, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  7. Zachery

    My primary concern regarding the Kennedy issue pertains to her voting pattern, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Failure to participate in such an important civic duty should rightfully disqualify ANYONE running for political office.

    January 22, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  8. Pepou

    I am sorry that Caroline Kennedy withdrew her candidacy. She would have been a wonderful Senator. She had more qualifications that Hillary Clinton when she started her political career.

    January 22, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  9. Johnny the Boy

    Yawn.....

    Get over the hero worship already.

    January 22, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  10. khelley

    It doesn't sound politically fair to me at all. If Palin, as a governor who is not qualified to be a police officer, is considering running for president , why would while Caroline, who seems to have a much higher academic achievement and more genetic political experience and background than her is being disqualified for the senate seat? Let be put aside that qualification issue. Let it be for another reason why Caroline can't have the seat. One can sense here discrimination based on gender, hatred, jealousy, and unjust impeachment of the Kennedy name to power, while they let the bushes grow tall and plenty. That's not fair.

    January 22, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  11. Independent

    Caroline just needs to start from the bottom up thats all.

    January 22, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  12. Larry C. in Houston TX

    Well, Patterson probably would have selected her, but now he's probably glad that the burden isn't on his shoulders now....
    Truth be known, he probably had some pressure on him for the pick..

    The real truth is : she was a NON VOTER for such a long time....
    She only endorsed Obama because she & ( like a lot of us ) wanted
    a Democrat for a change ! (especially after 8 long years of pure misery )

    She didn't even VOTE for Al Gore, as the same way with a lot of Democrats did not vote, because they figured their vote would not count, or it didn't matter who got IN....( that's when Bush got it the 2nd time) (instead of Al Gore) Everyone thought it was the most popular vote, and come to find out that it was the "Electoral" Vote that counted.......Thaat shows you how smart the American young voters were, at the time)

    January 22, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  13. James

    At this point I seriously doubt Patterson knows who he "wasn't going to pick." He is taking FOREVER, blowing his own announcement dates, and dawdling. At this belated point, there are now only two options; the guy is a serious drama queen, or he is an organizational failure.

    January 22, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  14. NYS Voter

    Here is my question to CNN about "awaiting moderation":

    When you see your comment amidst the others, but with the title, "Awaiting moderation," is it really there to be read by others, or do comments marked "awaiting moderation" appear only on the screen of the computer through which it was submitted?

    January 22, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  15. tk in IL

    Whatever, she isn't a good fit for the job and that's that. At least Paterson wasn't trying to sell the seat......unlike the dilema in my state.

    January 22, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  16. Nelson

    two words HAW HAW

    January 22, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  17. Bertina

    Leave Caroline alone. There are so many important things going on in this world. Why is everyone so petty. There is a rhythum and blues song from years aback--BEFORE YOU ACCUSE ME–TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF! Remember...when you point a finger there are 4 pointing back at you! I think there is a lot of jealousy going on.

    January 22, 2009 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  18. Steve

    What a joke CNN is! There are 2 ticker stories tonight about Sarah Palin, which is what they do when there is nothing exciting to say about Obama or if they worry that fewer people are reading their website. I can hear it now "Hey guys, we need to spice things up. Let's do another contrived story about Palin! That always brings out the excessive crowd!!!"

    January 22, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  19. khelley

    There is no president that had previous presidential experience before they became president. There is no senator, or governor that had previous senatorial or gubernatorial experience prior to becoming
    senator or governor, and no surgeon had past experience before they operate for the first time on a patient. It's all acquired on-the-job. And before they became professionals, presidents makes disastrous decisions, senators enact unfair laws, governors build bridges to no where, and surgeons kill many patients.There is no politcian presently in office that has no skeleton hidden in their closets. Qualification, experience, and good behavior are tools used to discriminate against and prevent others from pursuing and attaining their polical dreams which is a violation of the constitution's bill that allows the pursuit happiness and political ambition.

    January 22, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  20. gl, Pittsburgh

    chuck January 22nd, 2009 8:58 pm ET

    GOV. PATERSON KILLED THE DREAM OF CAROLINE KENNEDY. HE TALKED TOO MUCH THEN IT WAS TOO LATE. SHE WOULD HAVE HAVE BEEN A GREAT SENATOR.

    Also, he took to long to make up his mine. If I was Caroline Kennedy, I would have withdraw as well. Gov. Paterson is a big joke.

    January 22, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  21. really doesn't matter the reason

    she didn't seem like a good choice any way, so I am happy with the result

    January 22, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  22. Say goodnight

    She wasnt the answer,but neither is Cuomo.My friends there tell me hes just the legalized version of Johm Gotti,and runs everything there with his fortune.

    January 23, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  23. James in STL

    This goes to show that the NY Times is out of touch with reality. Attack Palin for months and then approves of Princess Caroline being a senator with no experience.

    January 23, 2009 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  24. Maningi

    I can't believe the arrogance of this patterson fellow. He has forgotten that he only got into the Govenor's offoice because of another's scandal. He has no right to denigrate the name of Caroline Kennedy in that fashion; she is a member of a family that has sacrificed immensely for the sake of this land, and being respectful toward her should not be such a task. What is the value of Patterson's declarartion that he was not going to pick her; she has removed herself from the contest, I believe because of the inordinately arrogant manner in which Paterson has been talking about his role as the appointee. Leave her be.

    Maningi

    January 23, 2009 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  25. R

    my local news in New York already announce who got it. Why not CNN?

    January 23, 2009 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
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