Paterson Acknowledges Kennedy Lacks Experience

By Lindsey Ellerson

Jan 8, 2009 6:47pm

ABC News’ Eloise Harper reports: New York Gov. David Paterson, in an interview with WOR-AM’s “The Joan Hamburg Show,” said that Caroline Kennedy does have “minuses.”

But Paterson added that having Kennedy in the Senate seat that would be vacated if Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is confirmed as secretary of state would be advantageous because of Kennedy’s relationship with President-elect Barack Obama.

“Caroline Kennedy obviously does have a tremendous relationship with the president and that’s certainly a plus,” he said. “She does not have much political, I mean legislative experience, which is a minus. She has pluses and minuses.”

Paterson has been receiving scrutiny from some local politicians for considering Kennedy as a candidate, including early comments from a New York congressman comparing former President John F. Kennedy’s daughter to "J-Lo" — i.e., singer and actress Jennifer Lopez.

On Dec. 15, Paterson announced that Kennedy had expressed interest in the seat, and the following day she embarked on a tour of upstate New York to meet with local politicians.

Kennedy received criticism for frequently saying “you know” and “um” in the round of local interviews she conducted.

On Thursday, Paterson said he still had more candidates to meet with, and that he still has not met with Kennedy, although they have spoken on the phone.

“I told her right after the State of the State Address, which I gave yesterday, that I’ll get together and sit down and talk to her along with a couple of other candidates,” Paterson said. “I’ve talked to about 10. There [are] about four or five more that I’m hoping to get to in the next week. And then I’ll make a decision on who’s the best candidate.”

Paterson joked, “It ain’t nothing until I calls it,” in reference to speculation tied to his deliberations.

Paterson said there is only one person deciding who will take this seat — himself — and he has said he will not name a replacement until after Clinton is sworn in as secretary of state.

Clinton’s confirmation hearings begin in the Senate on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

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