- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2008

NEW YORK | Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg emerged from weeks of near-silence Friday about her bid for a Senate seat by saying that after a lifetime of closely guarded privacy, she felt compelled to answer the call to service issued by her father a generation ago.

She said two events shaped her decision to ask Gov. David Paterson 11 days ago to consider her for the position if, as expected, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state: the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and her work for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

In her first sit-down interview since she emerged as a Senate hopeful, the 51-year-old daughter of former President John F. Kennedy cited her father’s legacy in explaining her decision to seek to serve alongside her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

“Many people remember that spirit that President Kennedy summoned forth,” she said. “Many people look to me as somebody who embodies that sense of possibility. I’m not saying that I am anything like him, I’m just saying there’s a spirit that I think I’ve grown up with that is something that means a tremendous amount to me.”

She also credited her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, with giving her the courage to run.

“I think my mother … made it clear that you have to live life by your own terms and you have to not worry about what other people think and you have to have the courage to do the unexpected,” she said.

Since Mrs. Schlossberg expressed interest in the job, she has faced sometimes sharp criticism that she cut in line ahead of politicians with more experience and has acted as if she were entitled to it because of her political lineage.

Mrs. Schlossberg said she had long been encouraged to seek public office and that Mrs. Clinton’s expected departure offered the perfect opportunity to follow in the footsteps of her father, two uncles and cousins. Her uncle Robert F. Kennedy held for 3 1/2 years the New York Senate seat for which Mrs. Schlossberg has asked to be considered.

“Going into politics is something people have asked me about forever,” she said at a diner in Manhattan. “When this opportunity came along, which was sort of unexpected, I thought, ‘Well, maybe now. How about now?’ ”

She said she realizes she will have to prove herself and “work twice as hard as anybody else.” She acknowledged, “I am an unconventional choice,” but added: “We’re starting to see there are many ways into public life and public service.”

Since Mrs. Schlossberg’s name first surfaced as a possible successor to Mrs. Clinton, her advisers have shielded her from journalists, with the exception of a few brief interviews on a swing through upstate New York and a visit to Harlem with the Rev. Al Sharpton.

She agreed to sit down with the Associated Press and NY1 television for interviews Friday, the day after Christmas and with newspapers preparing Saturday’s editions, the lowest-circulation day of the week.

Mrs. Schlossberg acknowledged that her recent time in the limelight - after a relatively private life as a wife, mother of three, best-selling author and fundraiser in New York City - had not gone smoothly.

But she said she had turned down interview requests and tried not to appear to be campaigning for the job because she knew that the choice rested solely with the Democratic governor.

“I was trying to respect the process. It is not a campaign,” she said. “It was misinterpreted. If I were to be selected, I understand public servants have to be accessible.”

Asked about criticism from other politicians and members of the public that she seems to regard herself as entitled to the job as a member of America’s most storied political dynasty, she said: “Everybody that knows me knows I haven’t really lived that way. … Nobody’s entitled to anything, certainly not me.”

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