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Caroline Kennedy draws criticism after latest tour
Updated: 2008-12-30 09:55

ALBANY, N.Y. – Caroline Kennedy's latest trip under the spotlight as a Senate hopeful didn't get much better reviews than her first. A New York Daily News columnist said "the wheels of the bandwagon are coming off." New York Post state editor Fred Dicker already put her on his list of 2008 losers. And The New York Times said "she seemed less like a candidate than an idea of one: eloquent but vague, largely undefined and seemingly determined to remain that way."

Caroline Kennedy responds during an interview, Friday, December 26, 2008 in New York. Kennedy's name first surfaced as a possible replacement for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in early December after President-elect Barack Obama nominated Clinton to be secretary of state. [Agencies] 

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On Friday after weeks of silence, Kennedy agreed to sit down for interviews with The Associated Press and New York City cable TV's NY1. Over the weekend, she scheduled another round of interviews with other news organizations from the Times to the Buffalo News. The New York Daily News noted she frequently used the phrases "you know" and "um" during the interview, which was skewered in political blogs Monday.

"There has been some very rough comments," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College poll. "I have been surprised," he said. "The welcome mat has not been out from everybody."

Kennedy spokesman Stefan Friedman didn't respond to requests for comment Monday.

It's been three weeks since Kennedy said she was interested in the seat expected to be vacated by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is President-elect Barack Obama's choice for secretary of state.

Two weeks ago, she took a quick upstate tour to talk to mayors but barely spoke to the media. Critics, including some Democrats, compared her lack of governmental experience to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's much-maligned credentials as a Republican candidate for vice president.

She drew criticism from news organizations that she ducked basic questions about issues and wasn't specific about why she wants to be, or should be, New York's junior senator.

In interviews over the weekend, she offered explanations for running that included the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan, where she has lived since the 1960s, Barack Obama's encouragement, and the commitment to public service by her father, President John F. Kennedy, and others in her family.

For some, that was reminiscent of a 1979 interview that helped undo her uncle's presidential campaign. Sen. Edward Kennedy didn't clearly explain why he wanted to be president much beyond citing family history when questioned by CBS newsman Roger Mudd.

Political science professor Robert McClure of Syracuse University's Maxwell School saw the connection. He was at a dinner party Sunday night with many liberal Democrats, but none supported Kennedy.

"It reminds me over and over again of that episode," he said.

"There wasn't active disgruntlement, either," he said. "But there was no one in that setting who did not feel she was unfairly trading on her name and had given insufficient reason for why she seeks the job."

Kennedy is one of several hopefuls seeking appointment by Gov. David Paterson to the two years remaining on the term.