January 8th, 2009
02:56 PM ET
14 years ago

Caroline Kennedy's lack of experience noted by Paterson

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/08/art.getty.caroline.kennedy.jpg caption="Caroline Kennedy has expressed interest in serving as Hillary Clinton's Senate replacement."](CNN) - New York Gov. David Paterson says Caroline Kennedy's lack of elected office experience "does not help her" in her drive to fill the senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton.

Paterson, as New York's governor, has the sole authority to name a replacement to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat after she resigns, as expected, to serve as President-elect Obama’s secretary of state.

In an interview with the Buffalo News Thursday morning, Paterson said elective experience is one factor, but not the only one, in his decision making process. Kennedy's "lack of elected experience does not help her,” he said, “but the point is, it's the combination of experiences I'll look at in terms of all the candidates, and also how balanced the ticket would look."

Kennedy, daughter of the late president John F. Kennedy and niece of Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, is one of at least a half a dozen candidates who have publicly expressed interest in succeeding Clinton. But because of her family name, Kennedy's received the most media attention - and because she's never served or even run for public office, she's received the most scrutiny.

A majority of voters nationwide feel that Kennedy is qualified to be a U.S. senator, according to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. The survey also found that more women than men think that Kennedy is qualified to serve as a senator.

The candidate named to replace Clinton would need to run for the office in a special election in 2010 - and if they won that contest, would need to run for re-election in 2012 when Clinton's term ends. Paterson will also be on the ballot in 2010, so his Senate appointee would be running alongside the governor on the Democratic ticket.

Paterson also commented on the media's apparent fascination with Kennedy. "One thing that helps her is the tremendous attention that you all give her works to her advantage. Maybe if you didn't give her so much attention she wouldn't have it," he said.

"The notion that I have to take Caroline is not coming from me," he added. "What I would say is that, to the media, it's Caroline and the others. To me, it's there are 10 to 15 good candidates."

Paterson said he won't name a successor until Clinton steps down from her seat, which wouldn't come until the full Senate votes to confirm her. That vote is expected on January 20th, the day Obama is inaugurated as president.

Filed under: Caroline Kennedy • David Paterson
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. Mike in Oahu

    I applaud the Governor for taking this decision seriously and for not defaulting to hereditary lineage. She may ultimately end up being selected, but it should be based on some measurable credentials other than her pappy was JFK.

    There is far too much nepotism in our government as it currently stands.

    January 8, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  2. Eric

    I was sort-of all for her until I heard her talk. It's absurd that someone
    her age should not be able to overcome a problem like that, or to be aware of how that makes her appear and not realize how absurd she looks. She's just a spoiled kid who thinks that because she has this name that it means more than what it does. She has not been tested or really challenged in her life, her old man at least had some PT boat crushed under him and had to help get his crew to safety. He also had to deal with Joe senior on a regular basis. I wonder if she's ever even had to change a flat tire. The Bushes had George Jnr, now the Kennedy clan has Caroline.
    You know....

    January 8, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  3. Juan Grain

    Was Paterson born a politician?

    January 8, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Pee4Poultice

    Professional Politicians...Can you S-P-E-L-L John McCain, Dick Cheney, The Don (auld) Rumsfeld, Ted Stevens!!! Enough said.

    January 8, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  5. Carol

    Caroline Kennedy would be an excellent choice for U.S. Senator. Caroline, you have my support.

    January 8, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  6. Cheryl Tx

    New York Gov. David Paterson says Caroline Kennedy's lack of elected office experience "does not help her" in her drive to fill the senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton GOv give the names of the 10 to 15 good candidates........Your affair was ignored .....Caroline Kennedy is very intelligent talented and devoted herself to helping commmunities less fourtunate than hers. Experience has caused a disaster in this country........She is fresh and very intelligent and ready to serve

    January 8, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  7. Sovay

    Gov paterson will in my opinion(sp) appointe caroline kennedy,because he looking out for himself,end of story!:)

    January 8, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. Mike, Syracuse NY

    @Len, you got the diference between Palin and Kennedy wrong. Palin got where she is by her own efforts. Kennedy wants to get somewhere by her name.

    January 8, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. cocoa

    I can not believe that gov patterson will seriousley considered caroline kennedy for the seanate seat,this woman do not even remember her voting records, caroline kennedy think she just to flash her name tag, there are other quafily(sp) people for that job>:)

    January 8, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  10. Maureen

    Caroline acts like she is privileged and the Senate seat is hers to have. She doesn't have to expend any energy to try to convince people or prove her ability to campaign. I was totally shocked when I heard her speak, I expected someone with her supposed intelligence and education to speak more eloquently, not you know, you know.

    If I was a New Yorker (I am a former NY'er) I would be soooo angry if she was appointed.

    January 8, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. mkt

    We already had an inexperienced senator from NY and she voted to authorize an unnecessary war.

    We can't afford the same mistakes.

    January 8, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. JN

    I would remind the posters that the next POTUS had 8 years of legislative experience(more than HRC) and only 4 years in the US Senate.

    HRC was only First Lady (a high level cabinet position if Feminist have anything to say about it) and she was given the spot (the election was just ceremonial really.

    So I dont see the big deal with Kennedy. I'd imagine a lot of the new congress is relatively inexperienced also.

    On top of that the Constitution does not say that one must be experienced to be a Senator. Simply must be over 25 (right???) and a resident of the state for so-many years.

    So um...she's as qualified as the law says she has to be. And the law is the only thing that matters.

    January 8, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  13. willy

    Folks, please. Spare us the sorry complaints and the "righteous" critiques. This woman is clearly an attention grabber, a money-magnet (good for New Yorkers, especially upstaters), a person of intellect and moral integrity,an EDUCATION wonk, a very SHREWD political novist (she threw her hat in for Obama when it was unpopular to do so, apparently convinced her uncle to do the same, didn't even bother to call Hillary, a fellow NYer, to warn her. She led Obama's VP search process).

    But the best thing is that she's grounded. A true NYer, takes the subway, has speech tics like all of us ( the ums and the you knows)

    Gushing aside, I love her. And I agree that if you criticize her while you don't even know the name of the other options in this race (Cuomo, Maloney, Israel, Higgins, etc.), you're just a HATER.

    January 8, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  14. DavidinCA

    I guess if Obama is qualified to be president then Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be a Senator.

    That would be twice as much fun to watch! The political cartoonists and late night comedians are going to have plenty to work with thanks to the liberal interpretation of "qualified"! Maybe they can also lower the age requirement to 12.

    January 8, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. Caroline Kennedy for NYS Senate

    "Mike, Syracuse NY January 8th, 2009 7:12 pm ET

    @Len, you got the diference between Palin and Kennedy wrong. Palin got where she is by her own efforts. Kennedy wants to get somewhere by her name."


    On the contrary, you have it all wrong. Poor "everyone else is to blame for exploiting via me" Sarah got where she is by riding on other people's shoulders then, later, backstabbing them after they make a name for her- much like what she is now doing to the RNC and the McCain campaign people with her exploitive media appearances and her incessant whining .

    January 8, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. Pele

    Whiners! whether you like it or not, she is going to be a NY Senator. You don't like it, kill yourself retards.

    January 8, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  17. hm

    Please, let Ms. Caroline stay what she is: a mom, a schooled degree holder, and a 'celebrity' mostly taking advantage of her father's reputation as the former President of the US. As a citizen her record is not even average! Can she raise $$$? Of course she can because her name is 'Kennedy' which rings fine in the ears of likeminded rich folks.
    As a citizen-voter of NYS I'll be very disappointed IF Gov.Patterson picks Ms. Kennedy as the senator representing NYS.

    January 8, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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