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Kennedy's thoughts on the issues

She speaks.

   Caroline Kennedy, in a glimpse at just some of the issues she would face as U.S. senator, checked in Saturday on everything from the war in Iraq to gay marriage and free trade.

   In her brief appearances upstate and downstate this week, the few questions Kennedy did take from reporters were dominated by political inquiries. On Saturday, she responded to questions from The Buffalo News on a dozen different topics.

   She was sometimes vague, such as on controlling illegal immigration, sometimes specific, like restoring a federal ban on assault-type weapons.

   She doesn't seem to mind linking teacher pay to student performance, but only if the teachers - ie: teachers unions - agree.

   She doesn't rule out nuclear power to help with the nation's energy problems, but only if "safe and economical."

   She supports her friend, President-elect Barack Obama, on several fronts, like his Iraq withdrawal idea, but breaks with him on gay marriage, which she favors.

   The limited set of questions posed to her were part of attempt to get an introduction into Kennedy's thinking. There are a slew of other issues upon which she will have to take a stance if she actually gets the job. That's all up to Gov. David Paterson, who will select Hillary Clinton's successor if she is confirmed as U.S. secretary of state in the new Obama administration. That means the guessing, lobbying and tea leaf reading will drag on for at least a month … unless Paterson sends some sort of definitive signal for who he favors.   So far, Paterson hasn't held any job interviews for the post. He has been coy about the conversations he has had with potential candidates, which number a dozen, and include downstate members of Congress, a county executive, an actress, a borough president from New
York, a union boss, and, locally, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

   So, what are the burning questions Paterson should be asking these candidates? What should he consider as he deliberates? …

-- Tom Precious

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