Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Caroline goes upstate, but apparently not to cultivate rural support

Today I read with interest the news reports of Caroline Kennedy's visit to "upstate and western New York." Here's the link to the story in the New York Times by Jeremy W. Peters and Nicholas Confessore. Kennedy visited with the mayors of Syracuse and Rochester, cities with populations of 147,306 and 219,773, respectively. In other words, these are neither rural nor nonmetropolitan places. Her visits to them may signal that Kennedy is seeking to build a bridge between NYC and upstate cities, but they do not indicate a sensitivity or awareness to the issues facing rural New Yorkers. Maybe that will come.

Indeed, Gail Collins implicitly touches on rural NY in her December 18 column about "Ms. Kennedy" in which she speculates about her willingness to "do Utica." That city's population is 60,651, so it's closer than Rochester or Syracuse to being nonmetropolitan, and it apparently suffers from some of the consequences of restructuring associated with micropolitan places. Collins continues:
And it’s easy to imagine Kennedy doing a Hillary-like “listening tour,” having round-table discussions about the dairy compact or broadband access while the press corps gently naps in the rear row.
Collins also writes about how well Hillary Rodham Clinton fared in New York's rural/ag milieu:
I remember watching Hillary tour the fair in Syracuse with her family in tow, stopping at a booth that featured a teeny table with teeny teacups and a sign: “Reserved for the Clintons.” Bill and Hillary, instantly perceiving their duty, pulled up two teeny chairs and plopped right down.
I guess Hillary was well served by her time as first lady of Arkansas. Caroline Kennedy may not have anything similar in her background, but as Collins suggests, she could adapt.

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