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
So if Ann Coulter were running for president, we should vote for her over Obama because she is a woman?
One.... Two..... Three...... "Duh-huh!"
Voters should choose the candidate who proposes the best ideas and who can best lead the country. Gender and race simply should not be a consideration.
Now who is sexist? This radical feminist display of hatred toward men does nothing for the cause of women or anyone. Get a clue.
I think we are ready for a woman president, but I don't think we are ready for Hillary Clinton.
I am very insulted that other women expect me to vote for a woman just because I am a woman. These "Womens' Group" are belittling women. Is that their intent?
Many of this has already been covered, I am now expressing my agreement with previous posts. I think this attack was completely immature and contains no concrete argument. Why would Kennedy support someone with the sole reason being that the candidate is a woman? It’s absurd! Just like it is absurd to vote for Barak Obama just because he is black, or Edwards because he is white. As previously stated, many other women would make better candidates than Clinton, but they are not running! Is it sexist to think Obama has a better platform than Clinton?
Enough is Enough, Don't they know with that kind of attitude will make Hillary Clinton look back and hurt her image with these statements. I guess they don't think for what they about to say.
Boo freakin' hoo to these NOW people. Did any of you actually listen to Kennedy's speech as to why he chose Barack over Hillary?
I would welcome a woman president if she was not the most divisive person in the history of politics. Barack inspires and unites; Hillary divides and infuriates.
Making this a women's issue is pathetic. Get outside of yourself and look at the greater picture.
The National Organization for Women ought to criticize Senator Ted Kennedy for his failure to back Hillary Clinton for President. The first electable female presidential candidate also happens to be brilliant, experienced, tough, politically savvy and as ambitious as it takes to win the highest office. To NOT endorse her requires some explanation, which Senator Kennedy has not provided. Inspiration is important, no, it is essential to the human spirit. For how long do we expect the women of this country to remain inspired when it is obvious that whenever we play by the rules, pay our dues, and begin to win the game, the rules change, and it's time for "a new generation" of men of course, to lead.
I wish some of you would write to NOW and tell them you feel this way. I for one am angered that NOW speaks for me in repudiating Kennedy for voting the better candidate.
This type of sexist thinking is usually men's domain.
Okay, so the great Ted Kennedy decided not to endorse Hillary. Well, the story could have been worse – at least he didn't drive her halfway across a bridge!
NOW-NY in one complaint you have managed to set woman of all nationalities back. Your own national chapter appears to disagree with your comment.
Guess what...our votes and endorsements are not based on race nor gender.
When will you get it...it's just Hillary Rodham Clinton. Oh, my fault she is Hillary Clinton today. No, I stand corrected she is Hillary.
And Obama almost directly quoted Malcolm X in a recent speech. How stupid can these people be?? Oh yea, I forgot....they are Kennedys. Who cares? We should all vote for the most capable leader.
Re the Women's Groups accusing Kennedy of betraying them – I think it's time for members of these "women's rights groups" to "GROW UP" and stop whining. Kennedy didn't make his choice based on "gender" as a lot of women will do. He made his choice based on whom he feels will do the better job. Thank you.
Looks to me like NOW NY and Hillary Clinton are made for each other – You're both sooooo out of touch.
First the Clinton's try to divide us racially and NOW proceeds to divide, condemn and segregate by gender. I'm appalled!
First Bill plays big, strong, protective, hubby and then NOW plays the avenging angel of feminism. When does Hillary play a part? Her weakness has shown through loud and clear and the endorsers and voters are reflecting the obvious.
Hillary can't stand on her own two feet and defend herself.
I am so proud of NOW's action which was right on the money in characterizing Kennedy's endorsement of an inexperienced and untested male as the ultimate betrayal of all women. Women have been betrayed in the past by trusting and empowering men only to have that trust breached.
Well, this time will be different. This time the vote of women will be the deciding factor in Hillary Clinton becoming the Democratic nominee and ultimately winning the White House. This time begins tomorrow when I along with thousands of women in Florida will vote for Hillary and she will emerge the victor. This time begins on Feb. 5th when Hillary will sweep the majority of states, including California, New York and New Jersey, and go on to victory in November.
NOW has over 500,000 members (women) that would vote for a candidate based on gender alone? I surely hope that can not be true.
Well, it seems that NOW just completely lost its face... Or showed its real ugly face. If all it's matters for them, is a candidate's gender, well, it's already bad enough (and plain stupid). If in addition they seem to think that anybody is obliged to bend his views to repay a favor (if there was ever one) – that's a clear example of a totalitarian mindset.
I guess it's offical, for the first time everyone is on the same page. I see us finally coming together. Keep up the good work folks, we'll get there!
I want to know with your inteligence yoe are not showing more of John Edwards?
This just sickens me.....He should support Clinton because she is a woman? How about supporting the best candidate!!! People should support women having an equal rights which Clinton does...not be supported because of one aspect of who they are whether its gender, race, or religion! Good job Kennedy!
Pretty much agree with the previous comments. NOW-NY chapter is acting so narrow mindedly. Still a registered republican here in CA, but will vote for Obama in general election. Eight years of Bush just ruined it for me and the Republicans!
That means if we don't support Clinton we are sexist???
That makes no sense, thats like Clinton crying croc tears.
Thank goodness women are standing up to the abuse which Hillary is taken from men. What needs to change is that we need more women in politics.
I dismiss most, if not all, of the comments above. No, I do not think that anyone should vote for a person because of race or gender. I am an African American female from Barack's state but I will be voting for the best person for the role of president: Hillary Clinton. Yes, Ted can endorse whomever he wants but I think that the voters will vote for the best, most prepared person: Hillary Clinton!