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UPDATE: Caroline Kennedy reallywithdraws from Clinton seat race

January 21, 2009 |  4:35 pm

Caroline Kennedy and her uncle and surrogate father Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, now ailing from a malignant brain tumor

(AN EVEN LATER UPDATE: Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Caroline Kennedy, confirmed late Wednesday evening that she has, in fact, withdrawn her name from consideration to fill the vacant Senate seat of Hillary Clinton. She cited "personal reasons."

(Which could well mean she understood she wasn't going to get it anyway. The announcement ended a confused day of yes, she's out-no, she isn't reports from various New York sources.)

The N.Y. Post and Times are reporting this evening that Kennedy, once thought to be a shoo-in as the nominated replacement for new secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has informed New York Gov. David Paterson that she's withdrawing her name from consideration.

Earlier, there was no immediate confirmation from Paterson or Kennedy of the pair of newspaper reports.

(UPDATE: Later Wednesday evening NBC quoted a Kennedy family source as contradicting those reports, blaming a miscommunication and saying she remained in the running. The Associated Press, quoting an unidentified Albany source, also said the withdrawal reports were erroneous.)

But the removal of the 51-year-old big-name family name, whose assassinated uncle Robert once held the seat, would make life a whole lot easier for Paterson, who has many fellow Democrats with much longer public service records in line competing quietly for the coveted high-profile seat.

Kennedy has made several stumbles once she basically announced she wanted the job. Her interviews were stumbling, often uninformed, inarticulate. It came out that she has not been a regular voter, let alone regular Democratic donor in her life as an attorney life. The daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy had been encouraged to seek the seat by her ailing uncle, Ted, now suffering from a malignant brain tumor.

She's said to have listed concern over her uncle's health as the reason to give up, and the leak comes one day after he had seizures during an inaugural lunch in the Capitol. Sen. Kennedy has been very ill since May, though, long before she made her announced autumn entrance into the nomination race.

Of course, she may also have belatedly realized the scale of the job and have received a heads-up that it wasn't going to be her getting the governor's nod. And he's giving her a facing-saving exit. Or even pushing with an anonymous leak. That would be particularly helpful if the governor's nominee turns out to be N.Y. Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo, the otherwise likely candidate with Washington experience and a man who had a bitter divorce from a relative of Kennedy's.

As The Ticket reported, Paterson said he expects to make his choice by this coming weekend. He's also said that he's giving economic concerns added weight in his selection process. Whomever he picks will run with Paterson in that Democratic state next year.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Associated Press

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