Caroline Kennedy: Hey, Wha’ Happened?

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Maybe she just should have hired Mike LaFontaine of High-Class Management to run her pseudocampaign in the first place. Here is a rough time-line of how things went last night:

7 p.m. or thereabouts: The New York Post reports she has told Governor David Paterson that she is withdrawing her name from consideration for the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton. It says she is citing “personal reasons.”

Within an hour, the New York Times is following with a story confirming that, but saying that her reason is concern over her Uncle Ted Kennedy’s health–a reason that does not entirely make sense because (1) she has known her uncle’s diagnosis since last May and (2) her uncle has made no secret of the fact that he wants very badly to see her in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the NY Post is revising its story to say that she withdrew because she found out she wasn’t getting the job. At this point, it is beginning to look like this whole story is coming out of the Paterson operation, and that she is getting pushed.

7:59 p.m.: Normally clued-in Kennedy people seem to have been caught flat-footed by all of this. Typical e-mail I got from one of them: Don’t know anything Others are insisting it isn’t true. Meanwhile, CNN confirming it. And the New York Daily News has a story up that, while “confirming” it, also quotes sources denying it. The NYDN report includes such circular sourcing as:

A family source said cousin Kerry Kennedy spoke with both Paterson and Caroline Kennedy’s political consultant, Josh Isay, and neither was aware she was bowing out.


Paterson, the source said, told Kerry Kennedy “he hasn’t heard it and he’s made no decision that would provoke her to leave.” Another member of Kennedy’s political inner circle said Kennedy had not told the governor she was pulling out nor have family members be told anything like that

8:40 p.m.: We hear that Kennedy’s advisers have just finished a very chaotic conference call. One source says even Josh Isay, her top strategist (at this point, obviously, we are using that word very loosely), is claiming not to know anything about any decision of hers to drop out.

8:59 p.m.: Swampland commenter rmrd tells us: Olbermann just said Kennedy did not bow out

10:02 p.m.: Swampland commenter Pourmecoffee (yes, we’ve got the whole team working on this) informs us of this mystifying update to the NYT story:

Just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, Errol Cockfield, Mr. Paterson’s press secretary, said the governor had referred to the assertion that Ms. Kennedy was withdrawing as “just the rumor of the day.” More than an hour later, Mr. Cockfield asked that that statement not be published, but neither he nor the governor’s communications director, Risa B. Heller, would respond to questions about Ms. Kennedy.

10:15 p.m.: I go to bed.

10:56 p.m.: AP moves this:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Source: Caroline Kennedy remains in contest to fill Hillary Clinton’s NY Senate seat. (Corrects APNewsAlert with source saying Kennedy had withdrawn.)

11:30 p.m.: NYT reporters are told she is preparing a statement reasserting her interest in the job, and they are read a draft:

I remain interested in the possibility of serving in the U.S. Senate.

12:07 a.m.: This statement by Caroline Kennedy arrives by email:

“I informed Governor Paterson today that for personal reasons I am
withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate.”

POSTSCRIPT: Not that we didn’t see this coming.