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New Yorkers Debate Caroline Kennedy Qualifications

New Yorkers are split on whether Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be a U.S. senator, a Quinnipiac University poll out today finds, with 40 percent saying she is qualified and 41 percent saying she is not.

Kennedy, of course, is being considered as a potentially appointee to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, if and when the former presidential candidate becomes secretary of state. The potential pick has stirred fierce debate, with some suggesting that Kennedy has little qualification beyond her famous surname; there have been differing accounts of her work at the Department of Education, with some suggesting it prepared her "for the big leagues" and others complaining that her chair was often empty.

Quinnipiac found that while 33 percent of voters say New York Gov. David Paterson should name Kennedy to the seat, they expect him to do so by a 48 – 25 margin. Twenty-nine percent say Patterson should choose the state's attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, whose last name might also ring a bell.

The New York Times, meanwhile, has published a story noting that Kennedy "is declining to provide a variety of basic data, including companies she has a stake in and whether she has ever been charged with a crime." While a spokesman did offer written answers to a number of questions submitted to Kennedy – the most notable response being her unequivocal support for gay marriage – the potential senator declined to respond to questions submitted by the Times concerning her possible ethical, legal or financial entanglements.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who calls Kennedy "eminently qualified to be a senator," has suggested that Kennedy has taken extra criticism because she is John F. Kennedy's daughter; Kennedy vowed Monday to support the Democratic nominee in the city's mayoral race, who will be running against her friend Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, who stopped short of endorsing Kennedy, urged Patterson to make the choice sooner rather than later.

"I think the governor should make a decision reasonably quickly because this is just getting out of control and everybody is focusing on the wrong things," he said.

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