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12-27-08, 04:44 PM #1
Caroline Kennedy says she'll have to work twice as hard as anyone else to get elected because of her last name
Caroline Kennedy is going on the record to make her case for why she should be Hillary Clinton's replacement as New York's junior senator.
"I come in to this thinking I'll have to work twice as hard as anyone else," she told The AP on Friday. "It was something I always thought about and I thought one day, not now, but one day and this opportunity came around that somewhat unexpected and I thought well maybe now."
It was her first major interview about the Senate seat. The crowd noise in the background came from patrons at a crowded diner in TriBeCa. In between bites of a grilled cheese sandwich and sips of coffee Kennedy said she knows the competition is tough.
Half a dozen elected officials want it, including New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and several members of Congress. The chief complaint about Kennedy is that she lacks experience in elected office and might be handed the job mainly because of her family name.
"Nobody's entitled to anything, certainly not me," Kennedy said.
Kennedy had a "listening tour" that included a meeting with The Rev. Al Sharpton in Harlem and a trip to Albany, where reporters were frustrated. They got nowhere with their scores of questions for the 51-year-old. She said in Friday's interview she knows she will have to be more accessible and talk about the things that matter most.
"We are facing unbelievable challenges, our economy, health care …" Kennedy said. "People are losing their jobs here in New York, obviously."
Many are antsy for a decision, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made repeated pleas for Gov. David Paterson to make his selection soon. But Paterson replied "what's the rush?" He said the Senate will confirm Clinton's appointment as Secretary of State first, only then he will announce her successor.
Kennedy's name first surfaced as a possible replacement for Clinton in early December after President-elect Barack Obama nominated Clinton to be Secretary of State. The Senate appointment rests solely with Democratic Gov. Paterson.
Since Kennedy expressed interest in the job, she has faced sometimes sharp criticism that she cut in line ahead of politicians with more experience and has acted as if she were entitled to it because of her political lineage.
She has said that she has been reluctant to appear to be campaigning for the job because it was an appointment, not an election.
"I was trying to respect the process. It is not a campaign," she said.
She also said she believes her approach had been "misinterpreted." Kennedy, 51, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, said she understands her lack of political experience and her ties to the famous first family mean she will have to prove herself worthy of such an appointment. Kennedy said there are "many ways to public service" and her accomplishments as a writer, mother and fundraiser for New York City public schools have prepared her well.
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