Watch CBSN Live

Is Andrew Sweet On Caroline?

The Andrew Cuomo-Kennedy Clan feud has been the most intriguing subplot in the scrum for Hillary Clinton's seat -- but people close to Cuomo say he harbors "great affection" for Kennedy and her push for the seat actually makes it less likely he'll fight hard for the appointment. 

It's hard to believe that the New York attorney general -- who has a reputation for some of the sharpest elbows in politics -- would pull a punch with anyone, and it's possible the Andrew-likes-Caroline argument is merely a pretext for his dignified withdrawal even though he's the favorite in a recent poll.

On the other hand, the 51-year-old former HUD secretary was, in fact, close friends with Caroline's late brother John Jr. and Cuomo insiders say he's had nothing but positive things to say about Caroline -- even in the wake of his bitter divorce with Kennedy cousin Kerry.

"Forget all the political stuff, there's a real personal element here," said a Cuomo confidant, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He loved -- loved -- John John and always had a great relationship with Caroline. [Competing against her], that will be tough for him. She not the type of person he would play hard ball against."

Cuomo, himself the scion of a celebrated political family, reportedly struck up a friendship with John Jr. at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta and remained close to the George magazine founder up to the time of his death in a plane crash 11 years later.

Caroline and Cuomo were two of the first phone calls Bill Clinton made after the crash -- and Cuomo served as an unofficial family spokesman with the media during the mourning period.

But that doesn't mean Cuomo's taking a dive in the most intensely watched Senate non-campaign since Rudy-Hillary '00. People close to the A.G. say he's still interested in the Senate seat, but is adopting a wait-and-see approach, believing that Gov. David Paterson might be turned off by Kennedy's increasingly public push.

Cuomo and Kennedy are neck-and-neck in recent polls, with Cuomo enjoying 26-to-23 percent lead over the former first daughter in a Siena poll released today.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue