Clinton's Senate seat draws Caroline Kennedy's interest

Caroline Kennedy, who has spent most of her life avoiding politics and the glare of celebrity, has decided to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York governor and others said Monday.

Gov. David Paterson, who would appoint Clinton's successor, confirmed that he spoke Monday with Kennedy. "She told me she was interested in the position. … She'd like at some point to sit down," Paterson told reporters in Albany.

"She's seriously interested," New York schools chancellor Joel Klein told USA TODAY after speaking with Kennedy. "We'd be fortunate to have her."

If Paterson appoints her, Kennedy would take the seat once held by her uncle, the late Robert Kennedy. She would enter the Senate as her other uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, battles brain cancer.

After spending most of her adult life devoted to charitable works, the daughter of President Kennedy emerged on the political scene this year when she endorsed Barack Obama for president and helped him select his running mate, Joe Biden. "She's one of the smartest, most engaging, wise people I know," Obama said of Kennedy after he appointed her to the VP search team.

Kennedy, 51, is a non-practicing lawyer who lives in New York City.

Klein was among those Kennedy called today about her decision, including activist Al Sharpton, who spoke favorably, and Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who endorsed her.

Some have questioned whether she is well-suited for the Senate.

"I don't know what Caroline Kennedy's qualifications are, except that she has name recognition, but so does J.Lo," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., said on a radio show last week, referring to actress and singer Jennifer Lopez.