Just Asking—-Senator Caroline Kennedy? Boy would Paterson like to hit the reset button.

Just asking?

Alright, of course the slogan is borrowed from my friends at Page Six and the N.Y Post, (the Daily News is just as good) but seriously I’m just asking?

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is telegenic, and energetic, but does anyone believe Gillibrand is delivering for New York more than Caroline Kennedy would have?

Does anyone believe Gillibrand has more access to the President Obama than Caroline would have?

With Caroline Kennedy—would we ever have seen Harold Ford looking at challenging her or other names being floated?

Are New York’s rank and file democrats pleased with Gillibrand?

Would the White House be forced to try and clear the field for Kennedy right now like they have for Gillibrand? Would Caroline Kennedy even face a primary challenge?

Would Caroline be open to the charge of changing her positions on core issues?

Are Gillibrand’s past conservative views a liability? (In fairness—Gillibrand did represent a conservative upstate congressional district)

No assumption on my part. I’m only posing the questions, but the other day when the president signed the Health Care legislation—who did the president personally acknowledge —-none other than Caroline Kennedy sitting front and center.
Yes, with Gillibrand—-Senior Senator Charles Schumer finally has his moment in the sun—-after being in the background of Hillary Clinton’s star power—but just imagine for a moment what Caroline could have done?

“Inquiring Minds want to know.” Remember that deep baritone voice, (Yes the voice from the channel 11 TV editorials) I still remember it from when I was a little boy growing up in the Bronx.

Could Caroline have picked up the phone and called the president directly?

Would New York issues have a national platform constantly with the national TV shows begging Caroline Kennedy to come on week after week?

For years the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan would discuss how New York financially gives more to Washington (on the dollar) than the city gets back. Would that formula perhaps begin to change under a powerful Senator Caroline Kennedy?

O.k., Let’s look at this another way.

The beginning of the end for Governor David Paterson started right after the Caroline Kennedy fiasco.

What would have happened if he went with the conventional wisdom and appointed Caroline Kennedy to the senate?

Would Governor Paterson—right now—be cruising to re-election with Andrew Cuomo forced to remain as Attorney General?

Would President Obama have come to Albany singing Cuomo’s praise? Remember “the shy and retiring Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is in the house!” President Obama gave a big grin. “Andrew is doing great work enforcing the laws that need to be enforced.”

Would Paterson have a campaign warchest that no one could touch after the Kennedy clan raised all that money for him appointing Caroline? Would she have raised tens of millions of dollars to support this year’s Democratic ticket?

And finally would Caroline just be one of 100 senators—or would she stand out and be a star from day one?

Yes Caroline Kennedy suddenly and somewhat mysteriously opted out of the selection process. I know for a fact she simply had it with Governor Paterson dragging out the process. Imagine Senator Caroline Kennedy. I’m willing to bet Governor Paterson sure wishes he could hit the re-set button.

I’m just asking?


Finally some private thoughts on being one of the few Journalists to interview Caroline Kennedy.

Dealing with “American Royalty,” coming face to face for an interview, I had no idea whatsoever in terms of expectations from Caroline. I had appeared on Face the Nation the Sunday before discussing her U.S. senate bid. I had interviewed Nelson Mandela, & Bill Clinton but didn’t know what to expect from this “big” one.

On the day of our interview that quickly went not just national, but international—-I didn’t want to bump into Caroline Kennedy walking into the TV studio—I honestly didn’t know what to say to her in terms of small talk. Just my luck I went into the make-up room, and guess who was there already looking into the long mirrors with bright lights hanging from above and putting on her own make-up, Caroline Kennedy. It was a bit awkward.

She said: “Hi Dominic, I’m sorry, I will leave so you can get made up.”

I quickly smiled and walked back out the door. I said:

“No, no Caroline. You take your time.” And with that the ice was broken.

Caroline walked into the studio a few minutes later. There was no diva personality from her. Remember this is the same Kennedy that President Obama had begged for her endorsement during the campaign, and that of her uncle.

At that moment in the studio, right before the mic was put on Caroline, I thought about how tough her life has to be. This was like two days before Christmas, and “everybody and their mother” at the station wanted to take a photo with Caroline. Her life is public 24-7.

She didn’t try to strong arm me or anything like that. She didn’t demand special treatment or that I ask certain questions. She sat there, and rolled with the punches for about 40 minutes. The one tough area for me in the interview (and I normally don’t have any) was asking what her family would think about the “private” Caroline running for office. Her father, (President Kennedy) Mother Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, or brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. The fact that she has been forced to deal with so much pain in her life. Caroline was cool on every front.

The one thing that I still believe to this day that was a cheap shot, the papers literally counted how many times the woman said “um, or you know” in interviews. Below was the headline in one of the tabloids. I thought the media just had to find something to criticize. Forget what she can deliver for New York—let’s just focus on “cringing verbal tics.” Forget giving her time to get up to speed like any other politician. To Caroline’s credit—she never responded to the media attacks.

"Caroline Kennedy no whiz with words"

Caroline Kennedy, you know, might need, you know, a speech coach, um, if she, you know, wants, um, to be a senator.
Um, you know?

Kennedy, who gave a flurry of media interviews on Friday and Saturday, revealed some cringing verbal tics that showed her inexperience as a speaker, experts told the Daily News.
In a 30-minute session on Saturday, Kennedy punctuated her answers with "you know" more than 200 times. "Um" was fairly constant, too.

Transcripts of her interviews with other media outlets showed the same problem. She said "you know" at least 130 times to The New York Times and more than 80 times on New York 1.


For the record, the latest poll shows former N.Y. Governor George Pataki defeating Gillibrand in the race for senate.