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Kennedy drops out of Senate contest

Thu., Jan. 22, 2009, midnight

ALBANY, N.Y. – Caroline Kennedy withdrew from consideration for the U.S. Senate seat once held by her slain uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, after a night of turmoil and uncertainty over her intentions.

“I informed Governor Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate,” she said in a one-sentence statement released after midnight. Her spokesman wouldn’t comment further.

Her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, suffered a seizure on Inauguration Day.

The hours of mixed signals Wednesday were the latest twist in the Kennedy effort, which began with popular support that withered after she drew criticism in her brief upstate tour and early press interviews.

The reports were a shock to supporters and to Gov. David Paterson, who had appeared likely to appoint her to the seat.

Edward Kennedy, who has been treated for an aggressive brain tumor, suffered a seizure Tuesday at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The New York Post was first to report his niece’s withdrawal from the Senate contest.

The New York Times cited a source it didn’t identify as saying Kennedy withdrew out of concern for her uncle and his illness. But the Post cited an unidentified source as saying she dropped out because she learned Paterson had decided not to choose her.

The AP initially reported Kennedy had withdrawn from the race but corrected the story about an hour later after the person who gave that information said it was an error. News reports changed through the night as people close to Kennedy either denied or softened their comments before Kennedy ended the uncertainty by issuing her statement.

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