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December 15th, 2008
03:05 PM ET

Caroline Kennedy to seek Senate seat

Kennedy is interested in Clinton's Senate seat.
Kennedy is interested in Clinton's Senate seat.

Caroline Kennedy, the 51-year-old daughter of President John F. Kennedy, has a "definite interest" in filling the New York Senate seat being vacated by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton, three sources confirm to CNN.

Two of the sources are close to Kennedy and the third is a senior Democratic operative. Kennedy's interest in the seat could mean the continuation of a family legacy in the Senate that began 56 years ago with the election of her father as the then-junior senator from Massachusetts.

Her uncle Ted has represented Massachusetts in the Senate since 1963. Her uncle Robert served as New York's junior senator from 1965 until he was assassinated in 1968.

"Remember, this (Clinton's) seat in the Senate was once held by Robert Kennedy," CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider said. "Her other uncle, Ted Kennedy, is ill right now. If (New York Gov. David) Paterson appoints Caroline Kennedy to the Senate, it means there could be a Kennedy staying in the Senate for quite a long time."

Before this year, Kennedy generally limit her forays into the public sphere to non-partisan activity, penning books on civil liberties and serving as the de facto guardian of her father's legacy.

But in January, she backed a political candidate for the first time, announcing her endorsement of Obama during the Democratic primary season with an op-ed in the New York Times that drew days of the kind of media attention she has spent her life avoiding.

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them," she wrote. "But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president - not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."

"Apparently she has acquired a taste for politics," Schneider noted. "She wants to be part of this new regime in America, clearly playing a key role in the Senate if she gets that appointment."

– CNN's John King and Kate Bolduan, and Mark Preston contributed

to this report.

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. marsha niazmand

    We in Illinois have a governor who is trying to sell a Senate seat. He needs to meet Caroline Kennedy, whose trying to buy one. Its deeply disturbing to hear Anderson's panel of "experts" explain that Caroline is entitled to the Senate, no less, based upon her name recognition and ability to raise money. At a time when this country faces so many crises, it should take more than that to be a Senator.

    December 16, 2008 at 10:35 am |
  2. earline coe

    HEY IT'S THE LADIES TURN, BUT THE NAME COUNTS

    December 16, 2008 at 8:49 am |
  3. ET

    There are too many "if's". If Caroline Kennedy is interested in politics, and if she believes she is qualified to work in Congress, she should definitely run for election in the next cycle, following the same path as everyone else. I do not think she's ready to just take an empty seat in the Senate on the basis of her name or personal popularity. The U.S.A. is not a monarchy. Our government should not operate on the basis of favoritism. I realize Ms. Kennedy has done great public service. That is certainly commendable... a good step towards her ultimate goal. Let her build up her resume.

    December 15, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  4. Gene

    Look. If Sarah Palin can be elected govenor of an American state. And if she can be nominated by a major party for the second highest office in the country. Then Caroline Kennedy is qualified to serve in the Senate. Besides, she can see Connecticut from where she lives.

    December 15, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  5. thomas

    I think it's absolutely ridiculous that Caroline Kennedy thinks that she can pick up the phone, call the New York governor, and grab a Senate seat. Just because she's a Kennedy? I'm sure she's a nice person, but why in the world does she think she's qualified? There are literally thousands of other more qualified individuals – - – she's just a Kennedy. With calls like this taking place, there should be a special election to fill this office.

    December 15, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  6. William

    What's it matter? We have elected a 'community organizer’; why not appoint a person with absolutely no political experience? She will do exactly what she is told to do just like all freshman politicians. She will be a "change agent" (guaranteed vote) for Obama and the Democrats. As we all know, in the Democratic Party, being a Kennedy is reason enough for being considered.

    In my opinion we should start just pulling people's names out of a hat for political positions – at least there would not be any 'royalty'.

    December 15, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  7. Scott

    I find it intriguing to find that many of the same comments about Caroline Kennedy and her qualifications are very similar to what we heard when President-Elect Obama was beggining his campaign. Caroline Kennedy is someone who has the ability to bring a new perspective to the Senate and seems to be willing to reach across party lines. She will make an excellent addition to the U.S. Senate in this changing time for America.

    December 15, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  8. Maureen

    I think Caroline Kennedy is a great choice. She is smart, thoughtful and caring.
    N.Y. is lucky to have her

    December 15, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  9. Nancy Callahan

    If I'm not mistaken the only qualifications for the Senate are to be old enough and an American citizen. This is a country founded on the idea of government by the people and for the people. Caroline Kennedy is qualified. The real question should be "is she ready/" She appears to be. She certainly has an understanding of the constitution which should be an asset.

    December 15, 2008 at 9:47 pm |
  10. Kathy, Chicago

    Hey, Obama got elected with little experience, why not Caroline Kennedy. I was thinking of running in Illinois-I hear there are great perks that come with the job. Just kidding!

    December 15, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  11. Mike, Syracuse NY

    With her 'qualifications' if she were Caroline Smith we wouldn't be having this conversation. A family name is not a good reason to pick someone for the Senate.

    Lee you're right, there are many senators and everyone has to start somewhere. But those senators were all elected, and most started at much lower political offices. If C. Kennedy wants to enter politics, what's wrong with running for a lower office first; or does her name mean she has to start at the top?

    December 15, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
  12. ken

    She certainly has the right to "run" for the Senate seat. However, I would hope that the same litmus test of background, education, qualifications, religious investigations, speech accents, marriage relationship, children, etc. would not be part of the media's approach in covering this process. Oops. She's a democrat and a Kennedy. No worry. She's got the job already...

    December 15, 2008 at 9:16 pm |
  13. Jim M

    Would she be receiving this amount of attention if she used the name Caroline Schlossberg?

    December 15, 2008 at 8:44 pm |
  14. Joanne in Ontario Canada

    Caroline Kennedy, would be the most logical choice over Fran Drescher thats for sure.

    December 15, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  15. Brandi - bottom of the boot

    i think Caroline Kennedy would be a breath of fresh air, a much needed one. I hope she does vie for the Senate seat and makes it.

    she has always been linked to honorable and compassionate activities. she does know politics, and she is a Kennedy, and will fight for what she believes in.

    December 15, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  16. Gisselle - Houston TX

    I adore the world qualified especially when it comes out of the mouths of people who really don't know what the job is all about.

    Unfortunately, one isn't born qualified for many a thing but time and experience are a big factor in acquiring these trait. Hopefully, Caroline Kennedy- a remarkable individual with the adequate political foundation- will have the opportunity to become a great senator to the State of New York.

    Just remember that George Bush wasn't qualified to be president but most of us believed that he was a little over eight years ago –most of the same people criticizing him now were the ones voting for him in the first place. If we couldn’t tell qualified *Cough* Al Gore from unqualified apart then why are we still claiming to know who is who now?

    December 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm |
  17. William of Iowa

    The appointment of Caroline Kennedy would do the State of New York and our nation no harm. In fact, her perspective on issues would no doubt shine a light in a very dim Senate chamber. The real test for her will be when Senator Clinton's term expires and she is faced with the prospect of protecting the seat in a general election.

    December 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm |
  18. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    I don't know much about Caroline Kennedy's political experience, but if she is like the rest of the Kennedy's, bring her on!
    This is very exciting!

    December 15, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  19. Kathi Fullerton Calif.

    Caroline Kennedy grew up on politics. She is not a stupid person. I think she would make a great Senator and future first female President. Yeah ok, I'm going a bit far but what if?

    December 15, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  20. Carol B., Virginia

    She's accomplished and has a right to express an interest in the Senate. She's also been around and dealt with politicians all her life

    December 15, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  21. Emma

    As much as I admire the Kennedy family, I have to say I don't think Caroline Kennedy is qualified for this job. She has never expressed interest in being a Senator nor has she done anything to prove that she can do the job well. I'd hate to think she's only interested now because she knows the seat is hers for the taking.

    December 15, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  22. Lee

    If she ran on her own and won, would we be saying she wasn't qualified if the people voted her in? Everyone has to start somewhere, and there are many senators I am sure who have never held public office before their first term in the Senate.

    Don't forget that Hillary never ran for office before and this Senate post is her first publicly held office.

    December 15, 2008 at 6:18 pm |
  23. EJ (USA)

    Well ...people said the same thing about Hillary before she was elected New York Senator. What were Hillary's qualifications at that point?

    December 15, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  24. Carolyn Harrington

    Caroline Kennedy is needed to save our country as her father did!! She is inspired by need-to-do, the best inspiration a politician could have. Placing Caroline as NY Jr. senator is just what our country needs as we face a new depression! PLACE HER NOW!

    December 15, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  25. MIKE LAKE WORTH FLORIDA

    To be honest I did'nt think Cindy from GA. and I had much in common. But I have to agree with her on this. Here is a person who showed little ambition for political service and now all of a sudden she wants to be a senator. I hope the voters see through all this hype.!!!

    December 15, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  26. Jacqueline Ortoleva

    I am sorry but this Caroline Kennedy thing in my opinion as an educated woman in America MUCH worse than the IL Governor scandal. WHAT gives this woman the right to just "request" she have the Senate seat? What experience does she have? I have done philanthropic work as well so I think I will call up the Governor and "request" I be considered for the Senate seat as well. Oh wait....that's right, I doubt I would be able to get through since my name isn't "Kennedy". What has America come to? This is one of the best examples of Nepotism I have ever seen.

    December 15, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  27. Megan Dresslar (Shoreline, WA)

    That is good idea for Caroline Kennedy to join seat senate or fill-in for Hillary Clinton......... I like it!!!! that is good news for me..... she will be great senator in New York! I hope she will take position or job senate with her uncle Ted Kennedy in D.C. I love Kennedy.... I always to read Kennedy books........ I like that idea!

    December 15, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  28. Lee

    @Cindy: Caroline Kennedy is not a celebrity but the daughter of a slain president, a position she did not seek, and who has done a lot of charitable work.

    That said, that does not necessarily qualify her for the position. I think she may be excited that so many people have told her that Obama reminds them of her father.

    December 15, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  29. Jennifer

    Since I'm not from New York, I won't voice my opinion on whether or not she should be a US Senator from that state. But . . . I can only ask this: what makes a person qualified to be a senator? We had a senator in D.C. that few believed he could make it, because he didn't have name recognition and hadn't done much. To them it didn't matter that he was a college professor and a wrestling coach and even did grassroot organizing for a community that needed it. He simply wasn't as qualified as his opponent. I'm thankful that he won and then won re-election. The man I am referring to is the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

    December 15, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  30. Carol

    Although I have great respect for Caroline Kennedy, what makes her qualified to waltz into the Senate without prior experience? How does being "de-facto guardian of her father's legacy" and "backing a candidate for the first time" make her qualified to take over Clinton's seat?

    December 15, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  31. EJ (USA)

    This blog is dripping with sexism – even from the females. It almost made my blood boil but I'm ok now.

    December 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  32. EJ (USA)

    its true....................

    December 15, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  33. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    Great...another Kennedy sucking our tax dollars for life while doing nothing. Isn't the Obama era of change in DC grand?

    December 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  34. EJ (USA)

    This CNN "piece" curiously leaves out the fact that she is a graduate of Columbia Law school (among many other educational and work related facts).

    Maybe CNN assumed that most people knew she wasn't some airhead who was just "the President's daughter."

    CNN – Please don't assume the American public knows all that much...

    December 15, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  35. Heather,ca

    I really dont think she should go there. For some reason people seem to think that because a person is the child of a politician that automatically that qualifies them for running for office and winning. Her mother wasnt a politician. Her father was. Her mother was very smart in that she made sure they had a normal life and privacy. Politics isnt the idealized way of life that we see in pictures on tv or magazine articles or newspapers. These are all carefully created and edited images that are supposed to appeal to us. Politics is a ugly business. You have to be tough to the core and really interested in all the issues and knowledgable. Caroline is smart. She was smart enough to maintain a private life and only get involved in issues on her terms. I think she stay above this and maybe Obama can find a post that doesnt involve the ugliness that a senate post does.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  36. jim

    Give me a break. Caroline Kennedy has absolutely no qualifications to be Senator. The liberal news media alway made an issue about Sarah Palin not be qualified for VP. At least she was a mayor and is a governor. Caroline's qualifications is she is the daughter of the late JFK. I think in the liberal clique it is the good old boy or in this case good old girl.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  37. Cindy

    I just wonder what this country is coming to when a "celebrity" can become a senator or governor and have no qualifications what so ever yet the ones who do are not even given a shot. No wonder this country is in shambles! Heck look at Cali and who's running it!

    Come on people. Caroline may be a Kennedy but that means nothing! She shouldn't get this seat just because of her name...and that will be the only reason she gets it! There are others WAY more qualified!

    Cindy..Ga.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  38. Mindy Chatsworth, Ca.

    After the debacle of Sarah Palin, I welcome Caroline Kennedy's interest in the New York Senate seat. This is an educated, brilliant woman who has written several books and has remained active and involved with public affairs. I would think people would be thrilled that she is willing to come out of private life to get into the world of politics. Caroline may not have been in the public eye, but she has been actively involved in politics for years. It's true that it's in her blood.

    John and Bobby Kennedy changed my life. I was a young girl when JFK was elected and he inspired me to become involved in politics. I campaigned for Bobby Kennedy in the Democratic presidential primary in 1968. I have never gotten over his assassination.

    I think Caroline is more than qualified to fill Hillary Clinton's seat. If a former first lady can be elected senator, then Caroline Kennedy can do the job. It's not just the Kennedy name. It's the fact that this woman has a law degree, brains, political savvy and the ultimate political pedigree. If she is willing to subject herself to the rigors of politics, I say good for her! Her father would be very proud.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  39. Presley

    I'm torn, the idea of Caroline in office is nice but I like that she isn't a part of the machine directly.
    As for qualifications, can we vet ALL of Congress then?
    Then Governors?
    Please, if even a quarter of Congress was "qualified", we wouldn't be in the mess we are now.
    She certainly can't hurt anything.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  40. KIM

    Good for her. This move shows women all around the United States they can stay home and raise their children and still have a career afterwards. It doesn't matter if you agree with her politics or not, you have to appreciate the courage it takes to go from full time mom to full time senator. Quite a leap.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  41. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    Although I admire the Kennedy family for their service to our Nation. And have a great fondness for Caroline Kennedy for her support and help of President-elect Obama. She is simply not qualified to be a U.S. Senator. She has not held a job, she has the 'name' and though I am sure she has done a great deal of charity work, its not the same.

    Please, Caroline, step aside and allow someone who is qualified to be the next senator from New York.

    December 15, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  42. Jay S

    Can someone please explain the qualifications of Caroline Kennedy to be a U.S. Senator? I understand her family has vast political experience, but her family is not running for that seat. Is the US Sentate seat from New York going to her because it makes a nice story? (long family history of politicians). With all the troubles we're faced with today, you've got to be joking about this. If this happens, what chance is there for Joe the plumber to become a US Senator? One last thought, is it wrong to think that the vacant seat should go to the person the Governor deems BEST qualified?

    December 15, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  43. EJ (USA)

    Great news.

    December 15, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  44. LyonsPhilly

    I'm so happy for you Caroline. I wish you the best. Love the Kennedys

    Philadelphia

    December 15, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  45. Annie Kate

    Wow, Caroline Kennedy in politics! I can hardly believe it. If her politics are the same as her father's and her two uncles (Robert and Ted) then it will be nice to know that there is still a Kennedy in DC that will look out for the people and who serve not because of power or fame but because they believe that "to those who much is given, much is expected". I hope she gets the NY Senate Seat; what an amazing year this has been.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham aL

    December 15, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  46. Bev C.

    She is absolutely NOT qualified, other than being a Kennedy, for the position. We have very skilled people here in Western New York, i.e. Rep. Brian Higgins, who would make a great Senator! He is no one's puppet. Please, no Caroline.

    Town of Tonawanda, N.Y.

    December 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm |