January 22nd, 2009
07:05 PM ET
4 years 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. SANTE


    January 22, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  2. Mobius

    Whaddya know? Paterson sees better than most of the politicos after all.

    January 22, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  3. Bob

    Well - how "noble" of Caroline to withdraw for "personal" reasons after learning that she wouldn't get it - typical Kennedy!

    January 22, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  4. LLT

    This is about the tenth anonymous source of why Ms Kennedy took her name out of the running. Get a life CNN and do some reporting on issues that matter: how about something on the conditions in Gaza??

    January 22, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  5. Ellie

    LORD, can anyone get this story STRAIGHT?

    I mean really, why does the media keep reporting if they don't know JACK!!! Amazing, it's like the blind leading the blind.

    January 22, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. Willy Brown

    A democrat not getting a political seat because they have no experience. I never heard of that before unless your #44 or his side kick.

    January 22, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. vobichlan, montreal

    Having the power to appoint carries with it a great responsibility, which includes absolute confidentiality. Given the amount of leaks and noises from the NY Governor's Office, it is clear that Mr. Paterson has failed in his responsibility. As a result, one can see the damage being inflicted upon Ms. Kennedy's reputation.

    January 22, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. Jan

    CNN, PLEASE DO AN ARTICLE ON WHAT YOU "DEEM APPROPRIATE" IN POSTING COMMENTS (see below). Please explain why relatively inoccuous comments (albeit NOT pro-Obama) stay "in moderation" for weeks and weeks, while pro-Obama commentators get posted multiple times instantly. As a company utilizing public cyberspace - YOU OWE YOUR READERSHIP THAT MUCH!

    (Comments are moderated by CNN, in accordance with the CNN Comment Policy, and may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.)

    January 22, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. Nick

    As much as I feel bad for Ted, and it'll be a shock to not have a Kennedy in the Senate after he leaves (hey, he's old, sick, he can't stay forever)... We voted for change, and getting rid of "camelot" is part of that change.

    January 22, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  10. ls[

    Good for Paterson!

    January 22, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. change in America

    I bet all these negative people on here I wondering if you can handle the job....Look how many politic's in office who not doing anything to help this country why cant Caroline Kennedy do this job. Gov Patterson dont know what he doing in office he a ex drug user and cheated on his wife so you tell me what wrong with Caroline wanted to be NY senator

    January 22, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. sam thuo

    bravo and this where logic overpowers false perception.

    January 22, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. Sara from Arizona

    Who cares????????

    January 22, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  14. Matt

    Right on Jan. I think it works like this. If you bash Bush or Cheney it is automatically approved. If you bash Obama it will not get approved. If you bash another comment for spelling, grammer or somehow getting in a Obama bash you are approved. If your arrgument is well written and thought out but is Conservative it will not get approved. If your arrgument is poorly written and contains spelling errors but is Liberal it will get approved.

    If you bash Hillary Clinton it will not be approved. If you bash Hillary Clinton but use the words Barack used to bash Clinton you get approved. If you use the word that contains and A followed by two S's you will not get even in consideration for approval. Try writing the state Ted Kennedy is a Senator from in the post and the comment won't appear. This holds true for any A double S word as well. And if you are a psycho and type in all caps while wearing tinfoil on your head you will get approved.

    January 22, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  15. indy 08

    Gov Paterson, you are a weakling, can't make a choice. Well in 2010 we will find out how qualified you are. The primary challenge will be fierce.

    January 22, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  16. Franky

    Is this really a surprise?? I mean, we kind of figured out it was gonna be tough for her, I mean, you are in the Senate seat. Very few are allowed or have been seated...

    I ain't surprised, people are surprised?? Looks like it.

    January 22, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. sandy

    I'm doing something today I rarely do.... watch CNN. It's been an eye-opener. Why for God's sake are they devoting all this attention to endless speculation on the appointment of a the next US Senator from NY? CNN has had a field day with this story because a Kennedy expressed interest. Could you wait until you get some FACTS to report? I still won't give a dang, but at least all these silly talking heads won't look like high school girls just spreading rumors hour after hour.

    January 22, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  18. Maggie in NY

    I really hope to see Kirsten Gillibrand appointed to the Senate seat.

    January 22, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  19. Jon in CA

    Paterson must have finally realized.. Teddy won't be around long enough to make good on his "I'll get you elected" promise. So why waste a perfectly good Senate Seat on a wealthy heiress who can't pay her freakin' taxes??

    Holy Cow – are Americans REALLY so comotose they can't see the democraps antics?

    Gaithner (tax-evader) nominated to Treasure Secretary

    Blago (Dem Governor) selling Obama's senate seat

    Obama closing GITMO, stopping terrorist trials, reaching out to Palestinians before calling Israel....

    Next we'll hear of Obama's comfy new prayer rug in the White House where 3 times each day he sings out ALLAH AKBAR...

    January 22, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  20. Anna, Missouri

    Jan– I have written very pro-Obama comments and have had them remain "in moderation" I think it has more to do with staffing problems because it has happened several times, mostly, when there are a large number of comments, when the article is several hours old, or on weekends or in the evening.

    January 22, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  21. john w

    now we know why the N.Y. Times was supporting Caroline,
    mean supporting. side benefits..

    January 22, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. aware


    PBO will tank big time, and Governor Sarah Palin will win in 2012! 🙂

    January 22, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. Brad

    As a New Yorker. Thank you.

    January 22, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  24. Carmela, Longwood, Florida

    As much as I like Caroline Kennedy personally, and feel she has qualifications for many other positions, the Senate post should go to Andrew Cuomo. He deserves it and it should be his, regardless of whether he asks for it or not. I sincerely hope that Gov. Paterson makes the right decision.

    January 22, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  25. DM

    Even Sarah Palin is more experienced than Caroline Kennedy!

    January 22, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
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