January 25th, 2009
05:30 PM ET
3 months ago

Paterson: 'No signal from me' for Kennedy to quit Senate effort

Senator-designate Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand appears with New York Gov. David Paterson at a press conference Sunday in New York.
Senator-designate Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand appears with New York Gov. David Paterson at a press conference Sunday in New York.

NEW YORK (CNN) - New York Governor David Paterson said Sunday that Caroline Kennedy "had gotten no signal from me that she had to withdraw" before Kennedy ended her effort last week to fill Hillary Clinton's vacant U.S. Senate.

Appearing at a news conference with the person he picked to fill that seat - Democratic Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand of Hudson in upstate New York - Paterson briefly answered reporters' questions about the Kennedy withdrawal, saying the decision was entirely hers.

"Caroline Kennedy called me on Wednesday to inform me that for personal reasons she had to withdraw," Paterson said.

Paterson was not asked what might have happened if Kennedy had stayed in contention but said, "There was nothing that would have prohibited her from
serving. She took her name out of consideration."

When he announced Gillibrand's selection Friday, Paterson declared, "I believe that I have found the best candidate to be the next United States senator from New York."

In her turn at the microphone Sunday, Gillibrand made no reference to Kennedy, trying instead to fend off criticism of her selection as a little-known congresswoman from a mostly rural district in upstate New York.

Much of that criticism has come from her consistent support of gun-owner rights.

"I grew up in a family of hunters," Gillibrand said. "I very much believe in protecting hunters' rights - it is a core value for our region and our state."

But she said as a senator she would listen to various groups.

"There's a lot of concerns in many of our city communities about gun violence, about keeping our children safe, about making sure guns stay out of the hands of criminals," she said. "Those are all concerns I share, and I will fight very hard to protect our communities."

Paterson and Gillibrand spoke to reporters after lunch with Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, and Clinton, who was confirmed last week as secretary of
state.

Neither Clinton nor Schumer attended the press conference.

Paterson and Gillibrand took the opportunity to praise Clinton, with Paterson saying Gillibrand had to "fill the shoes of a great leader who has gone on to be secretary of state."

Gillibrand added, "We could not have a better person as secretary of state right now."

Paterson's pick of Gillibrand concluded an apparently chaotic selection process that drew criticism from across the political spectrum.

The selection also put a definitive end to weeks of speculation that the seat might go to Kennedy, who cited personal reasons for publicly withdrawing
her name from contention.

Political observers are speculating that Paterson may have chosen Gillibrand in part because Democrats will have to defend the Senate seat in 2010 special election. Gillibrand - a 42-year-old Albany-born Catholic congresswoman and mother of two - has a proven ability to win over conservative voters in upstate New York, a region traditionally hostile to Democratic candidates.

soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. ...

    Gun-ownership is a core value of our religion and state??? What is she talking about?

    January 25, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Big Tom

    She is the right pick, a Conservative Democrat. A great move.

    January 25, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Allen

    Kirsten Gillibrand – pro-second amendment, anti-bail-out democrat.
    (I'm not a supporter of the democratic party but I LIKE THIS GAL !
    Thanks, Governor Pat!)

    January 25, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. dr.mimi de la cruz

    I DID MY BEST TO SEND MS.KENNEDY MY SIGNAL,THAT SHE

    IN NO WAY WAS THE BEST QUALIFIED NEW YORKER FOR

    THE SEAT. SHE DOESN'T THINK MUCH OF OUR DEMOCRACY

    IF SHE CANT EVEN BE BOTHERED TO VOTE.

    January 25, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. EBC

    Governor Patterson proved to be totally incompetent when it came to handling this whole HIllary Clinton Senate seat vacancy.

    He KNEW for 2 years he would be filling the seat and yet he behaved like a fumbling fool. Furthermore, his staff created such a media circus frenzy leaking out garbage after garbage of distorted stories it was so annoying.

    Other Governors filled their Senate Seat within two weeks of vacancy and here you have Gov. Patterson who seemed so confused and utterly disorganized on all levels.

    I guess Governor Patterson is NOT planning on getting re-elected Governor. He can kiss his office good-bye after bashing a Kennedy and President Obama's staunch supporter. You know what they say... all is fair in the "doggy dog" politics.

    January 25, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. Joe M

    Enough already! It's over!

    January 25, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  7. Griff

    Actors have been without a Contract! What about the "Real People"??

    January 25, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. bk

    Every woman is told that she has no experience. You sure don't hear that about men. The media is biased against women and we are sick of it. Look at the mess the men have made of this country. Harvard may give you book sense, but doesn't do a thing for common sense. If someone is willing to work for the people it should not make any difference if its a man or a woman or if they went to Harvard or not.

    You talk about Sarah Palin. She works for the people of Alaska. The media completely ignored what she had accomplished and trashed her every chance they got. Obama did nothing for the people of Ill. but the media chose to ignore that. The media are the ones that make or break people and they wanted Obama elected. He had no experience, but the media chose not to focus on that.

    January 25, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. Matt

    "Hunter's rights?"

    Do hunters have different rights than all other individuals? I don't think so!

    January 25, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. Jill

    I think Gillibrand is the perfect pick to fill Clinton's vacancy. I live in upstate NY and she is a great, intelligent woman in whom I have the uptmost confidence in for this Senate seat.

    January 25, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. hello

    not a wise choice.

    January 25, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. woody

    on the one hand we have inefficiencies, drama and possible blagojevich-style corruption...and on the other hand we have the increased expenditures of taxpayers monies from another election.

    neither idea works.

    SO heres is my idea:

    EACH U.S. senator must have a "back-up" put in place during the normal elections who would be ready to step in whenever the need arises. i think this would eliminate both the cost of an uneccesary election and the drama of a blayojevich-style appointment.

    January 25, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  13. THE OLD TIMER

    WE DIDN,T NEED ANOTHER KENNEDY IN WASHINGTON

    January 25, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Ernie in LA

    She is a hunter? Palin should invite her over to hunt some moose before Obama takes their guns away.

    January 25, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  15. MR E

    You know what you did Mr paterson, we will pay you back during your reelection, Ms Kenneday is will qualify for the senate postion . You and your gang pushed her out . "see you during your reelection" , you will not be reelected that i know for sure. Ms Kennedy worked hard during Obama election campaign and this is the way you paid back ? , Dont under estimate the power of $5 contribution that will be used against your election. Take this word to the bank it must happen, This is not an insult on Ms Kennedy but on Obama and those of us who supported Obama . We must unite against you.

    January 25, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  16. Jean

    Thank you, thank you for Carolina Kennedy.

    January 25, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  17. DNC must be changed

    Gillibrand's abilities and experiences are much much better than
    delusional woman, Caroline K. Schlossberg who spawns tax, nanny
    and marital problems. I am not interested in Caroline's nanny problem and marriage life, but IRS should scrutinize her tax record no matter what her middle name is Kennedy or not.

    January 25, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  18. Franky

    You know, she is interesting. It'll be interesting to see how she does but please New York media, let her do her job, don't treat her like the Yanks.

    January 25, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  19. 'Liberal media'??!?!!

    When is this so-called 'liberal media' thing going to kick in?

    Guess this goes to show and prove that the media is more interested in getting headlines than favoring a political party.

    Dem on Dem drama, always good stuff, especially if it's named Kennedy!

    January 25, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  20. Sometimes I feel like a Nut ... Sometimes I don't

    Oh great ... a gun nut in the Senate .....

    I really don't see why this is that relevant or important to people. The orginal intent of the right to keep and bear arms was to have an option to fight government tyranny.

    In today's world, to keep the true intent of the 2nd Ammendment, we'd have to allow people to park their own F-16 Fighting Falcon in their garages so that they could take on the US Army, Air Force & Marines if they and/or a particular administration ran amok.

    Stop all the bull about "guns" and the 2nd ammendment. We don't need guns anymore to hunt for food ... that's why we've got Stop& Shop.

    Guns kill people ... average citizens ... they are part of the threat. They need to go.

    January 25, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  21. Pat Canada

    I think the New York Senate Seat was just another example of an excellent game of polical maneuvering. I also think Caroline Kennedy was very wise to withdraw her name from this three ring circus. She's much too professional, gracious, intelligent and forthright to mingle with this crowd.

    January 25, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  22. Simmy

    (Gov. Paterson, A wrongly – informed – management – person – Clinton supporter) .................. PUMA – (Clinton supporters), Sen. Charles Schumer (probably closet Kennedy hater), Paul Begala (ex-Clinton staffer and supporter – has relatives in dairyland area). ........ Conspiracy...........What goes around comes around...........The truth will come out........Stay tuned.....................

    January 25, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  23. Jane NY

    Patterson made a statement last week ...there are others more qualified than Caroline You are a liar and a fool What goes around comes around

    January 25, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  24. Obama 2.0

    I see a lot of post that think the change would be good but do not see it happening. I know that what makes America great is not only our rights as individuals to propel change but transforming from one voice of one person to an orchestra of millions. it is in our Unity that we are America. It is when we join together our voices that we cannot be denied. So, do not loose faith but rather put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write to your Senators and watch your individual power morph into legislative reality.

    January 25, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  25. ran

    Maybe CK should run for Gov. Gillibrand will not get reelected in 2010. In fact this appointment may cause a Republican to win in 2010.

    January 25, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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