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Caroline Kennedy’s Senate Bid Raises Debate

Caroline Kennedy may have a long record in the political spotlight, but some are questioning whether she has the public service experience to fill the Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. Columnists weigh what she might bring to the job.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Well, Caroline Kennedy's decision to seek appointment to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat has sparked a debate that stretches well beyond the borders of New York state.

    Here to assess the pros and the cons are Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus and Albany Times Union columnist Fred LeBrun.

    Welcome to you both.

    Ruth, you wrote about this today. All things measured, you kind of think that maybe Caroline Kennedy ought to have the Senate seat.

  • RUTH MARCUS, Washington Post:

    Well, for me, it's a head-versus-heart debate. My head says, "Nah." And my heart says, "Oh, boy, let's go for it."

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Why?

  • RUTH MARCUS:

    I think especially for people of our age and for women of our age, Gwen — and I'm going to include both of us in that — Caroline Kennedy is an icon. We remember her as this little girl, you know, riding her pony at the White House, standing with her mother at her father's funeral.

    So it's a very powerful, evocative image to think of her now grown up, the daughter of a slain president, taking the Senate seat, held by her slain uncle, joining her gravely ill remaining uncle in the Senate. It is an emotional reaction, but I find it a quite powerful one.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Fred LeBrun up in Albany, is the emotional reaction enough?

  • FRED LEBRUN, Albany Times Union:

    No, it's not enough, although I completely agree with Ruth. We were all overwhelmed by the Kennedy name, the mystique, Camelot, and so on, and we are certainly not at all immune from that up here in upstate.

    But there are so many issues about jobs and about the depressed economy of upstate New York that actually was in the fore well before the Wall Street meltdown that we need the kind of person in Washington who transcends just the image issue.

    This is not about vanity plates or an ambassadorship to Barbados. This is a U.S. Senate seat. So, no, it's not enough to have just this great mythology at work.

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