January 8th, 2009
02:56 PM ET
13 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. Tyler

    Experience as an elected official only matters if you want to be effective pushing legislation and get reelected.

    She's not going to be Senator. I hope she doesn't get discouraged though and runs for another public office in NY. I have a feeling this is her swansong for elected office.

    I think she is doing plenty with the public service she has provided in the private sector.

    January 8, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. tom

    Lisa and Len...please, she is no more qualified than any random person pulled off the street. As to her family's traditions...which ones are you refering to...the Kennedy family fortune, derived from being major bootleggers during Prohibition – no different than Columbian drug runners today. Or would it be her uncle ted...best ask Mary Jo Koepchne...oops I guess you can't. Her father, while doing some good things as president made Bill Clinton look like a choir boy when it came adultery. Are you not aware of these facts or simply and selectively ignoring them? Or even more important is she just ENTITLED? She couldn't even be troubled to vote so why do you think she would be any different if she was annointed, or like the PE Obama Hussien do you require she just vote present?

    January 8, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. Gloria, El Paso ,TX

    Duane....Who is really experienced for the president's office except for those who have been re-elected as president? Give him a chance.

    Marc PDX.... Don't insult Caroline Kennedy by comparing her to the idiot hillbilly from Wasila. Barack is going to make a great president but perhaps you're a Palin follower that 's still in the closet and probably thinks Bush was the greatest president. ever, huh?
    Oh Pleaseeeee..............

    January 8, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  4. Matt

    @ Lisa

    You're right. We shouuld appoint her because of her name and not bother to inquire as to her qualifications.

    January 8, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. dave

    i'd like, you know, to comment, you know, on her, you know, but i, you know, need to, you know, read up on her, you know, first.

    you know, thank, you know, you

    January 8, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. Al

    Bummer – you know!

    January 8, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. GuyInVA

    Did someone just say her lack of experience helps her? During the election, people on both sides were going crazy about the limited experience of President-elect Obama and Governor Palin. This doesn't apply to her? Oh, I forgot she's "intelligent". Well, she's a Kennedy, so she must be intelligent. That name also entitles her to the senate seat. I've seen pieces of her interviews, "ya know", and they actually made me long for the Palin / Couric chats, "ya know".

    January 8, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. Matt

    CNN: If you fail to name the other candidates Paterson is considering or who are seeking the appointment and focus your stories solely on this woman just because of her family name's "newsiness," then you are just as bad as those who think her family name is what qualifies her for the position in the first place.

    January 8, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. ran

    She would be a people's senator and what is wrong with that. She does not need the glory or the power.She just wants to do for the people and that should be enough for now. Let the people of NY decide in 2010 to keep her or not.

    January 8, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. sueb

    Hey you stupid liberals–do you really think Caroline should be senator just because her name is Kennedy? You are the same foul mouthed idiots who complained that Sarah Palin had no experience! I'm proud that I voted for McCain/Palin and will watch you eat your words about how great Obama is and all the wonderful things he will do for America. I doubt our great nation will survive four years of his leadership! I pray it does so that I can vote for Palin 2012!!!!!

    January 8, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. kevin


    Hillary was elected, a resume bullet that doesn't need further qualification.

    January 8, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. Brian, Sacramento, CA

    Experience is overrated. It's all about political strategy.

    January 8, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. di

    caroline is very disciplined and wants to work for all americans ... she will never talk about the pro american parts of america like goofy palin.

    January 8, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. Dems be dopes

    My name is Kennedy..........

    I have $$$$$$$.....

    I don't have to vote........

    I'm qualified........


    (Where is upstate New York anyway?)

    January 8, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. rnsn

    People keep comparing Sarah Palin and Caroline Kennedy. This is one instance where there is no doubt that Sarah Palin would be better qualified (if she had the opportunity) than Kennedy. Now before you go Palin-bashing, remember that she's a state governor for crying out loud! That's experience you can't get anywhere else. Kennedy, while I admire her philanthropic endeavors, is being considered just because she's a Kennedy.

    January 8, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. Paul


    "Lisa and Len…please, she is no more qualified than any random person pulled off the street."

    Great endorsement there, Tom!

    January 8, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  17. bsmith171

    kennedy needs to move to canda.
    she is a stupid american, YOU KNOW!

    January 8, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. Ghuman

    Folks, what is needed now is not experience but ability, honesty and drive to do something right.

    What has happened to this country is a testament to years of experience but lack of judgement, ability and honesty.

    Caroline K will be a breath of fresh air in Senate and all those comparing Caroline K with Sarah P have the same or lower IQ as Sarah P.

    Cheers !!!!!

    January 8, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Just name her........we all know she's going to be the pick.

    January 8, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. FreeNLovIt

    For eight years, our Congress was filled with experienced senators and none of them, were SMART enough to break off with W and Chen ey. What type of experience is that? None of them had enough GUTS to face the heat. So much for experience.

    January 8, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. old citizen

    Aw shucks ! Appoint her. What with the "nabobs " all ready there what would it hurt . Besides it would be good fodder for the tabloids!!

    January 8, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. pghezzi

    just because her name is kennedy, she should not be able to take the place of hillary clinteon. hillary worked for her job. caroline has NO experience. we have enough bad politians. please do not add another.

    January 8, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  23. MaraStan

    If you are talking about experience. Please scan our current senate and their experience and get back to me. This issue is VERY OVERRATED and annoying. Moving on please....

    January 8, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  24. Moni

    With the state our economy and country are in I'm not that fond of the overly experienced. I'm not sure what Caroline K. brings to the table besides her name, but the people of NY better look and make a decision on that rather than just her name. We have to stop using known names or longevity in Washington as our sole reason for voting for someone.

    January 8, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  25. Scott Davis

    Kennedy is not qualified and should NOT be chosen.
    You know?

    January 8, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8