Caroline Kennedy to seek Clinton's N.Y. seat

Caroline Kennedy, who has spent most of her life outside of politics, has decided to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, a friend said Monday.

New York schools chancellor Joel Klein said he spoke with Kennedy, 51, about her plans. "What she said is she's seriously interested," Klein told USA TODAY. "She would like to serve the state of New York."

Kennedy, the oldest child of President John F. Kennedy, launched a foray into the political world this year when she helped Barack Obama select his running mate, Joe Biden. She and Eric Holder, now the attorney general-designate, led the vetting process for prospective vice presidential candidates.

"She's one of the smartest, most engaging, wise people I know," Obama said of Kennedy after he appointed her to the search team. "She has become a very dear friend. I trust her."

Clinton holds the seat once occupied by Caroline Kennedy's uncle, Robert F. Kennedy.

Clinton intends to remain in office through her Senate confirmation, her spokesman, Philipe Reines, said. After she resigns, New York Gov. David Paterson will appoint someone to fill the seat.

If Paterson appoints her, Kennedy would enter the Senate as her uncle Sen. Edward Kennedy — the patriarch of the nation's most famous Democratic family — battles brain cancer.

Contributing: Jill Lawrence and Kathy Kiely