Kennedy clan urge JFK's daughter to seek Senate seat vacated by Clinton

CAROLINE Kennedy – daughter of a murdered president, niece of senators and zealous guardian of her own privacy – is believed to be interested in the Senate seat once held by her uncle.

Her cousin, Robert F Kennedy Jr, said he and the rest of the powerful Kennedy clan are urging Caroline to seek the New York governor's appointment to the Senate seat – and added she seriously considering it. "I know she's interested," Robert Kennedy said. "She spent a lot of her life balancing public service with obligations to her family. Now her children are grown, and she is ready to move on to a bigger stage."

Once Hillary Clinton is confirmed to President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet, New York governor David Paterson will appoint someone to fill the seat for two years.

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The Kennedy's connections and history cannot force Paterson to choose Caroline, but the family's strong support could increase pressure on him to pick her over lesser-known contenders. For Caroline Kennedy, seeking the Senate seat would be a significant departure from the life she has lived until now, protecting her family's privacy – and her own.

Robert Kennedy said his extended family would come out en masse for her if she does get the appointment and has to run for election in 2010 to keep the seat. "If she runs, you will see more Kennedys than you have ever seen in your life," he said.

Democrats said Caroline Kennedy and Paterson have spoken about the Senate seat, and she is interested. After two New York Democrats said Kennedy and Paterson were expected to meet privately on Saturday, the governor's spokesman said they did not have a meeting planned.

Kennedy is the daughter of President John F Kennedy and a niece of brothers Edward and Robert. Robert Kennedy held the New York seat from 1965 until his assassination in 1968. Edward Kennedy has been a senator from Massachusetts since 1963.

As a prominent member of the Kennedy clan, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is the kind of high-profile, historical figure who could overshadow many other politicians hoping to be Paterson's choice.

The governor has said he is in no rush to make a decision, and Clinton is not giving up the seat before she is confirmed as Obama's secretary of state.

"The governor has not yet reached out to any potential candidates," said Paterson's spokesman, Errol Cockfield. "He has been approached by several candidates. Any discussions related to that selection are private."

Caroline Kennedy made a splash in the presidential campaign in early 2008 by declaring her support for Obama in an opinion piece she wrote for the New York Times.

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She said he had the potential to be as inspirational to Americans as her father was in the 1960s.

• The United States needs to "act and act now" to rescue the country's troubled economy, President-elect Barack Obama declared in his weekly radio address to the nation yesterday.

Obama, who was urged by Democratic members of Congress to "be more assertive than he has been" over plans to help America's beleaguered car industry, said the nation felt "rising unease and frustration" as the total number of jobs lost in the recession reached almost two million.

Obama, who takes over from incumbent George Bush at noon on January 20, also promised the "single largest new investment" in the nation's infrastructure since the 1950s and "the most sweeping effort to modernise and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen".

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