January 25th, 2009
05:30 PM ET
6 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. hello

    why not choose someone that you know is qualified (Cuomo), instead of an unknown in these troubled times, what was patterson thinking?

    January 25, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  2. Penn Voter

    The last time I checked, the State of New York was a sovereign state. Its governor empowered by the people and the constitution has the responsibility to select a replacement senator to ensure that the state is represented in the Senate.

    So unless you are a resident of New York or you are the Governor, this matter has nothing to do with you.

    January 25, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  3. Harold

    As a New Yorker I am so happy that Kennedy is not our new senetor and even more thrilled that Patterson chose someone from upstate. We don't get much representation in the Senate and beyond. Clinton didn't stand for us when she was in the senate she was more focused on popular national issues.

    As a member of the republican I to am rooting for the Blue Dogs.

    January 25, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  4. Alan

    I don't know what the big deal is about Caroline Kennedy, Has she done ANYTHING in her entire life regarding politics? NO. Why does she deserve to be a senator? Simple – She doesn't.

    I like the Kennedy family (several great politicians), but Caroline does not deserve to become a senator. Suck it up, all you who are whining about her!

    January 25, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    while I like Ms. Kennedy and have the upmost respect for her whole family, I have to admit that I don't think she was up to being a senator. She is more like her mother than her father when it comes to politics and I just feel it would have been wrong for her to have this position. If you don't like having your privacy open then politics is NOT the place to be. Her dear brother John was almost a walking tabloid story from the time he was born to his tragic death. I'm sure she doesn't want to go through that.

    January 25, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  6. DAVE IN CA

    well carol and the rest of the people who think guns kill people...... people kill people not guns..... they don't pull the trigger on there own..... would love to see the day when your president tries to take AMERICANS guns...... the war in iraq and afghanistan will pale in comparison... private citizens who own guns give them protection from criminals until the police show up instead of being a victim with no way to protect yourself

    January 25, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  7. Tony Rezko

    I didn't like her that much, thats why she aint in

    January 25, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  8. Tony Rezko

    Seeing the libs eat each other makes me joyful

    January 25, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  9. DAVE IN CA

    bridgette god forbid that your house is ever broke into and someone takes you and your children hostage and seeing how they cut the phone line so that you couldn't call the police for help being that you have no weapon to protect yourself i will pray that you are not violated or worse your children when owning a gun and being properly trained to use that weapon would save you and your children's lives......until the police decide to show up.... do you think the criminals are not chomping at the bit hoping that nut cases like yourself would choose to take this right away so that it is easier for them to get what they want..... criminals have guns and will always have access to them which means if the law says no one can have a gun guess what they will illegaly just law abiding citizens will be defenseless

    January 25, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
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