Kennedy formally endorsed Obama Monday, after months of remaining neutral. (Photo Credit: AP)
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy is under heavy fire from a state chapter of the National Organization for Women for his decision to back Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.
In a sharply critical statement, the New York state chapter of NOW took aim at Kennedy Monday for what it called an "ultimate betrayal," and suggested the Massachusetts Democrat "can't or won't" handle the idea of Clinton becoming President of the United States.
"Sen. Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard," said the statement. "Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few."
"And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment!" the statement continues. "He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton."
After months on the sidelines, Kennedy formally endorsed Obama Monday during a speech at American University, despite reported pleas from the Clinton campaign that he remain neutral. He hailed the Illinois senator for his potential to be a “president who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American dream."
Kennedy also praised Clinton and John Edwards in his speech, saying that “whoever is our nominee will have my enthusiastic support."
But the NOW state chapter suggested Monday Kennedy's decision was a larger representation of society’s ongoing disrespect for women's rights.
"This latest move by Kennedy is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a president that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’”
Meanwhile, the national chapter of NOW sought to distance itself from the state chapter’s comments, issuing a statement Monday evening that praised Kennedy's record with respect to women's rights.
"Though the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee has proudly endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, we respect Sen. Kennedy's endorsement," NOW President Kim Gandy said. "We continue to encourage women everywhere to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote."
Kennedy's office has not returned CNN's request for comment.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Whoa, that is a desperate act on the part of the NOW NY Chapter. As an Obama supporter, I know we can all "handle" the idea of a second Clinton Presidency. But some of us want to elect a leader who has the judgment to stand against an ill-thought, ill-planned and ill-advised war that has cost our country so much. Some of us want to turn the page on the politics of the last 20 years. Some of us would rather see the first female president not be the wife of the president who just came before this one. Some of us remember that when the last Clinton left office, he left the country with a Republican president, Republican Congress and Republicans in a majority of the governorships.
Some of us want change.
As a young woman (29) and a feminist, I find NOW's statement on Kennedy's endorsement to be repulsive. I vote for the candidate I feel best matches my values and my hopes and dreams for our country, regardless of that candidate's gender, race or ethnicity. For me this year, that candidate is Senator Barack Obama. NOW needs to step back and realize how ridiculous they sound before they completely alienate the younger generation of women activists and voters.
Maybe the issue isn't that she's a women but that she's Hillary?!!!
That alone would make someone think twice about who to endorse. i personally would love to see a women in the White House but absolutely not Hillary!
Sounds in line with the stories of the Clinton campaign rounding up all of their special interest groups and trying to intimidate Ted Kennedy into not endorsing Obama. This just gets sadder and sadder for the Clintons... how low can you go?
WOW! I am a female and I can't believe they would come out like this and bash Sen. Kenndy. What are women groups trying to do here? I am a proud supporter of Barack and voted for him Saturday in our primary; so BASH ME. This race is becoming very sad
Complete nonsense. Conversely, if Kennedy would have chosen Hillary over Barack, would it be fair for the NAACP to say that they feel betrayed by Kennedy and go on to say that he can't "handle" a black president? Ridiculous.
The NOW's statements are sexist, hypocritical, and insulting.
First we had competing liberal campaigns suing each other in court. Then we had a liberal group promising to spend $8 Million to ensure Bush's image remains tarnished. Now a feminist group is crying foul because Ted Kennedy does not believe that the only woman in the race is the best choice of those running simply because she is female. It's starting to look like the Democrat coalition is coming apart at the seams. All of these people have spent so much time at a boiling rage that they can't simmer down now, and with Bush leaving and no obvious Republican nominee to hate, they are turning on each other.
I am a woman and I am offended that NOW thinks that I am so stupid that I am unable to make up my own mind or make my own decisions and WANT all of us to blindly follow whom they want to anoint!! We are NOT lemmings! It was HRC who has turned me off by showing that SHE NEEDS a man to stand up and fight dirty for her. We do not need a Bill presidency behind the scenes and she has shown America that this is just what will happen. I support many women's issues, but I will not be silenced by NOW. Give us more intelligence than that. We are not all Hillary's who need a man behind her at all times. Wake up NOW!!
I'm glad to see I'm not the only female offended by NOWs statement – I'm beginning to wonder if anyone out there believes that the voting public might be capable of an independent and educated opinion.
I don't understand what these so called "women's group" represent who? I am a woman, but I will never vote for clinton. Sure I like to see a woman president, but NOT Hillary Clinton. All she cares is about herself, all she wants from you is your vote. There are so many other good women politicians out there who are much better than Hillary Clinton.
I think it's just a Boston/NY thing...
Bu I give props to NOW for having the stones to make a bold statement like that
It is clear that people are basing their nominations on gender especially, how absurd is this, for you too see this nominations by Ted as a form of betryal are you people nuts.
I wouldn't hesitate to vote for a female president if I believed she could truly unite this country and if I agreed with her plans for fixing this country. For Now-NY to imply that Ted's decision is based on not being able to handle the idea of a woman president, makes me feel as if they think that about anyone not voting for Hillary. That's just insulting.
Many of you have missed the point. Kennedy has been the benefactor of women voters as a bloc. So, naturally it would be offensive to to bloc of voters to have him suddenly jump ship for whatever reason. His endorsement is political. While I am an admirer of Kennedy, he is not without a very tainted history. He should have sat this one out.
I'm thinking Ted Kennedy is really upset that Hillary truthfully spoke about the Civil Rights Act being helped along by a real President – Johnson. Kennedy's always hated the Johnson's. And the way Ted has lived his life makes Bill Clinton look like a Saint. Too bad we don't have smellivision, we could have determined if there was alcohol on Ted's breath when he gave his endorsement.
Why do I have this strange feeling that Senator Kennedy's endorsement is a more of a personal grudge against Bill Clinton then any other lofty consideration?
Anyway, his opinion doesn't have much weight with me.
ok now what race didn't work for Hillary she has to try gender as what ?i belive kennedy has full right to endoersment any he wants to and i dont think real matters for the voters who endoers .
What about Caroline Kennedy? Is she, too, going to be attacked as abandoning women? How about NOW as well as all women losetheir bias and pick the best candidate for the Presidency. We are Americans as well as women!
I haven't learned anything about senator obama other than cry foul and blame Clinton. Is it what we get along with obama (god forbit get the nomination?)
I hope people examine before they vote
The only hope for change and prosperity the country has is HILLARY
People please forgive her... it must be that time of the month! May be next week she would realize her comments and apologize
This is precisely why Senator Clinton should not be President. Precisely why. Are you kidding me?
The "politics of personal destruction" is precisely what this egregious outrageous slanderous attack was.
Is this moving the ball forward for women?
What is NOW doing?
I really don't like how NOW sounds like they speak for all women. There are a lot of women that live to cook dinner, iron shirts, step out in some decent fashion, balance the family checkbook, decorate for family parties and are playful and fun that don't think anything like the NOW women. Maybe we should be NUF or fun spelled backwards for a change.
Come on! A Kennedy respect women? Really?
Any intelligent, progressive thinking woman would be outraged by these types of extremist opinions. This is not feminism, this is reverse discrimination. Anyone but a Male just won't do. The same goes for Obama. Anyone but a White just won't do. These arguments do more to enforce the seperatism that both women and minorities have fought so hard to overcome. True equallity will only be realized once we stop labeling everyone and everything.
We need to stop acting like imbeciles and start taking responsibility for the rights granted to us as citizens. If you are too lazy to get in touch with the candidates true stance on the issues, then you are wasting your vote. Stop looking at them for face value and do the hard work to make an intelligent decision.
Rights groups do not want equal treatment. They want to continue to proclaim inequallity so that they can reap huge rewards financially and politically to drive there agendas. Power is a very dangerous and corrupting force. Caveat Emptor
It's organizations like NOW that give women a bad name. In their efforts to move women's rights forward, they are holding us back with ignorant comments like this... what a shame.