January 22nd, 2009
07:05 PM ET
8 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. Kay

    Caroline Kennedy has done the right thing. She is a very private person and pushing her into this circus of the limelight has been an injustice. Leave her alone.

    January 22, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  2. Lois, Ont., Canada

    I think she knew she was down in the polls. She withdrew as she knew she would not be shosen . She thought that being a 'Kennedy' the name would get her through. The Kennedy era is over. All the Kennedy men are only known for cheating on their wives!

    January 22, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. Chris from NY

    It doesn't matter who Gov Patterson picks anymore but one thing I know is that if he picks someone I don't like I will not vote for the person in the rerun election. I have lived in NY for a long time and have voted ever since I became eligible to do so. But I will not vote just for anyone, not after being more knowledgable of how politics should be run in this past election.

    January 22, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  4. Keep Texas Red!

    Just because she's a Kennedy doesn't mean she was qualified for the job! The Kennedy's are so arrogant and full of themselves. Its good that she dropped out!

    January 22, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  5. john w

    will the N.Y Times print the real reason for her choice or will the editor not cover it?

    January 22, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  6. Steve

    CNN you are ruining the reputation of a women who has done nothing wrong. I am ashamed at your use of anonymous insiders to report this smut. I am also disappointed in Gov. Paterson's behavior as governor. He doesn't even deserve the job, it was handed to him.

    Caroline Kennedy is a good person and she doesn't deserve her reputation being ruined like this. I don't think she necessarily deserved it because her last name was Kennedy, but she did not deserve CNN and this scumbag, anonymous insider reporting terrible things about her.

    January 22, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  7. Canadian View

    Only Caroline Kennedy knows why she withdrew her name. And only Caroline Kennedy needs to know. Time Magazine should have waited till her withdraw was verified before splashing it all over the front page. It is disgusting how some are attacking Caroline Kennedy whilst knowing nothing about her.

    January 22, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  8. Glenn N

    Well, let's not forget she may run in the next Senate race. In the meantime, she can lay the ground-work for a win and, make the Kennedy name proud!. She's young and has plenty of time to get it together.

    January 22, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. Mitchell from MS

    Possible Adultry, tax problems, and a nanny issue. If this was a member of the GOP you would be digging a grave for them right now.

    I guess Kennedy's don't always get what they want.

    January 22, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  10. Glenn N

    ... let's not forget, a popular election win carry much more impact in the Senate than an appointment! Look where it's gotten Senator Clinton! Okay, okay, she also had the name.

    January 22, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  11. Vic

    Blah, Blah and Blah, just sounds like political spin from both sides. Quit whining for her, where u like it or not ... she wasn't ready for the NYork media. It's probably Gillibrand or Cuomo... my guess is that it will be Gillibrand.

    January 22, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  12. Chris

    Willy Brown – How do you sleep at night with all the hate you are filled with? Is excepting someone new really that hard???

    January 22, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  13. joe

    Paul begula...what a twit

    January 22, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  14. khelley

    It's funny though. Well, as a blind person, he does really need
    a good leader.

    January 22, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  15. Pat J

    Perusing-Through January 22nd, 2009 9:07 pm ET
    BLAME THE BRUTAL & UNFAIR NEW YORK MEDIA.
    -------------

    You mean like the one who elected Barack Obama?

    January 22, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. Pat J

    dustin January 22nd, 2009 8:56 pm ET
    now sarah palin should be ashamed and admit she should have never been picked either
    ---–
    Why?

    January 22, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  17. Not even for dog catcher

    Dustin, I'll make a deal with you, when you get ELECTED Mayor of a city and then get ELECTED Governor of a state or maybe run your own business and balance a budget ot two, then you can post about Sarah Palin.

    The only thing Liberals can "run" is their mouths as you certainly can't pay your taxes or get your Nanny's straightened out as this is the real story of the next head of the IRS and Princess Caroline (Trust me, these stories are going to come out along with her affair).

    Anything that shows the hypocracy of this "American" family is fine with me.

    She thought "because" she "you know" was a Kennedy, she would get away with it, "typical" of these people.

    January 22, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  18. DAVE IN CA

    ding dong the witch is dead....... i think she is from CHIGAGO seeing how she has all of this cloud of tax, illegal alien nanny's, adultery... and obama only knows what else..... what a joke...... her daddy would be so proud of her

    January 22, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  19. yellow dog democrat

    well maybe sarah can sleep now she isn't the only one being "picked on"!

    January 22, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  20. KATHLEEN

    To Jan,
    Sometimes I am glad that CNN didn't post my comments!.
    I just think, and accept the fact that it could be a good thing.
    SO BE IT. It is THEIR blog, not mine. I am happy it is here
    for us.

    January 22, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  21. DAVE IN CA

    hey chuck, UM LIKE YOU KNOW.... UM LIKE I CAN DO THIS.... AND UM LIKE YEAH I WOULD MAKE A UM LIKE YOU KNOW A GOOD SENATOR.... PLEASE--- like gag me with a spoon and all of the rest of it .... i got 2 17 year old nieces who speak better than this silver spooned elitist who believes her name gives her privy to all that her little heart desires......

    January 22, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  22. KofTX

    This guy Paterson has just ensured that he won't win re-election. Democrats just don't seem to understand how to retain power.

    January 22, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  23. Orin

    As a Democrate I'd choose Palin over this loser. May I suggest you
    take flying lessons!

    January 22, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  24. SamSunny

    If anyone has been unprofessional, it is the Governor's Office. First he has let this thing drag on forever (trying to get more press undoubtedly). Secondly, making negative statements about her readiness to be Senator and then letting his office say he had no intention to choose her. I, personally, don't know why she isn't as ready as anyone else who runs for office.....some of those people in Washington D.C. have been there forever and still are very poor public servants.

    January 22, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. Justin from New Haven, CT

    Gillibrand is probably the winner.

    January 22, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
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