January 25th, 2009
05:30 PM ET
11 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. Obama 2.0

    Ok, I wrote to my Senator.
    Here is what I wrote and you are more than welcome to cut and past it to your letter when you go to the contact page of your state Senator. You may have more to ad or de-tract.

    Senator,
    I would like to see you join Senator Feingold in his effort to stop the circus of appointments by Governors when elected officials (Senators) leave office. This should be in the hands of the people thru a special election and not an election that is special because there is only one voter, the Governor.

    The current system is a gross mis-representation of the citizens of America.

    The constitution laid out a framwork on how to think, not what to think. And we must stay current with our time and need. Please step to the plate and make the change.

    January 25, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  2. rickymo

    Interesting how CNN just states have the quote about her "hunters gun rights" statement. She also added that we also need to keep illegal guns off the street which I quite different on how this article ended. Patterson was swayed and Gillebrand was elected by the Clintons to punish the Kennedys. But Gillebrand however is more like Tracy Flick from the movie "Election"..this is what we now have in NY State.

    January 25, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  3. alvino

    This will cost the democratic party a senate seat and a congressional seat in 2010. Blago and Paterson are a joy to watch.

    January 25, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  4. BBB

    I wish they would stop saying she is from Upstate NY.... the Albany area is NOT upstate NY!!!!! Syracuse, Watertown are Upstate NY. Rochester, Buffalo are Western NY.

    January 25, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  5. person

    CNN, stop writing & reporting on false stories about our new POTUS, we know that your establishment is a GOP supporting entity but it's just disgusting. Obama never said that " I won, so listen to me!" Your open bias is so nasty.

    January 25, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  6. bill for barack

    Oh dear.
    Didn't they see eye to eye ?

    January 25, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. Keith VanZandt

    I too am a lifelong democrat who believes it is my constitutional right to own and possess guns.This is the only thing I agree with the republicans about.

    January 25, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. JonPeter in Hartford, CT

    Before moving to CT I spent a large portion of my life in upstate NY so NY politics is familiar to me. While Caroline Kennedy might have grown into the job, her recent behaviors, lobby for the job in the press, then a last minute withdrawl, indicate she wasn't ready for the job. Gillibrand is clearly a better choice. Had there been less interference and lobbying for the job by Ms. Kennedy, the selection process might have been more thorough, by Rep. Gillibrand appears to be a fair choice.

    January 25, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  9. jesuino leduino rosa

    She may statrt to gling on guns and religian, and i dont bleme her tings are bad.

    January 25, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  10. philip

    Well why doesn't he control his staff? They were very disrespectful of Caroline Kennedy with their comments. I hope a better democrat steps forward to run for governor, like Cuomo.

    January 25, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  11. GuyInVA

    I'll ask the same question about Caroline Kennedy as all of the Sarah Palin haters ask about Governor Palin: Why are we still talking about this woman?

    January 25, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  12. William from Manhattan

    When gender and geography are the most important criteria for coosing a Senator, as it obviously was in choosing Ms. Gillibrand, all New Yorkers suffer.

    January 25, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. was the best choice

    she is significantly better qualified

    January 25, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. Jenny

    Yippee – A Governor not afraid to stand up to the Kennedy dynasty.

    January 25, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  15. Lin McMullin

    Gov. Patterson could not appoint anyone until after Senator Clinton resigned, which wasn't until the middle of last week. Knowing he would have to appoint someone, he considered a list of candidates and chose who he thought was best. That's not chaos even if the press would like it so.
    Ms Kennedy, alone, chose to go public and "campaign" for the job – her choice. Having made his selection, I'm sure Gov. Patterson informed all the others privately. At that point Ms Kennedy chose to withdraw so she not would appear to have been rejected - also her choice.

    January 25, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  16. cnnnewser

    This saga is over. Time to move on.

    January 25, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. chuck

    PATERSON SPEAKS TOO DARN MUCH. JUST SHUT UP THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE.

    January 25, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  18. Rick

    You go girl, tell all those demon-cratic liberals that you support the people who voted you in not those leftest demon-crates who want to dictate the American people. Looks like one of their own is for the people not a demon-cratic dictator like the rest trying to dictate their rules

    January 25, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  19. upstate-downstateNYer

    Since when did the decision making process of making political appointments come down to not offending the potential candidates? Has American society devolved so much that there cannot be any losers any longer? Granted Patterson handled this all poorly, but then again the media is even more guilty.

    Last time I checked, the USA was founded because we didn't want a Royal Family. The Kennedys aren't royalty and aren't entitled to anything, especially a Senate seat. If that were true, Andrew Cuomo is closer to NY Democratic royalty. Who cares if David Patterson hurt Caroline Kennedy's feelings?!? All it took was watching a few of her interviews and it became just as apparent as watching Palin's interviews that neither was well-versed enough in the issues, or in public communication skills to be able to function as a national leader.

    Granted, I wouldn't have been living in fear of Kennedy's legislative decisions.

    Congratulations Ms Gillibrand! It's about time someone broke the 5 Boroughs' stranglehold sending NYers to DC. I too am a gun-owning, hunter in favor of gun regulation. Show them through your actions and decisions in DC what many north of Putnam County already know.

    January 25, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  20. carol

    Core value my eye, what is so great about having to own a gun just because a piece of paper says we can??
    Too many guns in this country and should be banned totally as far as I'm concerned, just because we are allowed by law to own them doesn't mean we should!!!

    January 25, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  21. Rex

    just another Palin type. Obscure, unknown, no one specal and voila.......i get to be a senator.

    January 25, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. Bridgette-PA

    Is this the same chick that didn't want to take the Presidents' call while giving a news conference? I don't like her disrespectul attitude!
    She could have easily told the press "hold on guys, the president needs to speak to me". What's up with her?

    January 25, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  23. Allen

    Kirsten Gillibrand : Pro-second amendment, anti-bailout democrat.
    I'm not a supporter of the democratic party, BUT I LIKE THIS GAL!!
    Thanks, Govenor P. You did good!

    January 25, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  24. Peter

    Caroline is just fine with her uncle and rich family.....

    January 25, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  25. Johnny the Boy

    And why should I care about Caroline Kennedy?

    January 25, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
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