U.S. News

Caroline Kennedy withdraws Senate bid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of slain President John F. Kennedy, on Thursday withdrew her bid to fill the Senate seat for New York vacated by Hillary Clinton.

Kennedy cited personal reasons in a brief statement.

The decision came after her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, with whom she is said to be close, suffered a seizure on Tuesday during a luncheon in Washington honoring newly sworn-in President Barack Obama.

The 76-year-old senator from Massachusetts, who is fighting brain cancer, was released from the hospital a day later.

Clinton was sworn in on Wednesday as secretary of state and resigned from the Senate, putting the decision on filling the vacancy in the hands of New York Gov. David Paterson.

Kennedy had been considered a front-runner for the seat once held by her uncle Robert Kennedy.

“I informed Governor Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate,” Kennedy said in the statement issued by her spokesman.

The move leaves New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as the top candidate to succeed Clinton. Cuomo, the son of longtime New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Bill Clinton.

Another possible successor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York City, was named to lead the Joint Economic Committee, possibly signaling she was out of the running.

Kennedy, 51, who has long guarded her privacy and never held public office, launched an unusual campaign for Clinton’s seat after Obama tapped the senator from New York and former first lady to be secretary of state.

She came under criticism for giving what some found to be vague or inarticulate answers in media interviews. Some also questioned whether Kennedy, who did not bother to vote in a number of elections, would be getting the seat solely because she carried the name of an American political dynasty.

A January 14 Quinnipiac University poll found that, while a quarter of the registered voters surveyed favored Kennedy over other candidates, 31 percent preferred Cuomo.

But Kennedy -- an adviser in Obama’s presidential campaign -- had an army of big-name backers, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

Kennedy spent part of her childhood in the White House before her father was assassinated in 1963. She spent much of her life trying to avoid the limelight until she endorsed Obama for president last year.

In an editorial published in The New York Times in January 2008, Kennedy wrote that Obama inspired her the way people had been inspired by her late father. She campaigned for Obama in his Democratic primary battle against Clinton.

Her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, died of cancer in 1994. Her brother John F. Kennedy Jr. died, along with his wife and sister-in-law, as he piloted a small plane to a family wedding at the Kennedy compound in Massachusetts in 1999.

Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Doina Chiacu