The reaction to Caroline Kennedy’s recent rollout, at least among unaffiliated political observers I’ve spoken to, has not been so positive.
The idea that her public performance has damaged her chances, maybe seriously, seems to have become the consensus take.
But Charlie King, at least, has a more charitable view.
“You have to give somebody context,” said King, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2002 with Andrew Cuomo and became executive director of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. (He says he’s still particularly close to Cuomo, as well as to Jerry Nadler and Randi Weingarten, whose names are also in the mix of hypothetical Senate appointees.)
“It takes a certain amount of time to get the rhythm of politics, regardless of how accomplished you are in any other place,” he said. “And you can look at Bloomberg or you can look at anybody. It doesn’t mean they’re not qualified but it does mean she that she’s not going to be this polished politician. Or Obama for that matter. It doesn’t mean they’re going to be this polished politician right out of the box. If people are looking for Caroline during these interviews to basically talk sound and espouse her positions on her issues coming into this the way Hillary Clinton would sound like going out, I think that’s an unfair and unrealistic assessment.”
King also said that the circumstances of her rollout, created by a genuinely extraordinary demand in the media for stories about her, was less than ideal.
King said that even for an accomplished attorney and author “who sits down for back-to-back-to-back-to-back interviews with all of the press in the state, what would be your expectation of that presentation?”
And he said that Kennedy, unlike the other candidates, is in the awkward position of having to introduce herself and make her case, publicly, without appearing to campaign for the seat, since the vacancy will be filled by an appointment, not election.
“In Caroline’s defense,” said King, “everyone is pestering her because she’s an unconventional candidate and they want to know about her, but she can’t put on a full-force campaign because then she’ll be criticized for campaigning for a position that nobody else is campaigning for.”