January 29th, 2008
08:54 AM ET
7 years ago

Women's group slams Kennedy for 'betrayal'

ALT TEXT

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

soundoff (2,092 Responses)
  1. Andante Dente

    Hail to Senator Kennedy !Senaor Kennedy has obviously rendered thorough deliberation on his endorsemenet to the right candidate. All Hillarys choking up did not much good for a wise man with concience.
    Obama is for a change that Hillary hailed about, but only for the votes. We certainly don't want the old Clinton couple presidents back again.
    To have a Hilllary in the white house, all the rich and the elites and the warmongers will be happy.
    Vote Obama for resurrection of the American spirit!
    L

    January 28, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. Mary

    They CERTAINLY do NOT speak for this Woman! How rude and arrogant. Many other
    Senators have endorsed Clinton. Are THEY racist? Against Blacks? Of COURSE NOT!

    I am so sick of People being PITTED against each other to benefit the "SPECIAL INTEREST". They wield their POWER to WHOM it benefits them. NOT the AMERICAN PEOPLE. THIS is the kind of Politics that Obama wants to stop!

    January 28, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. Kate T.

    You said it for me, Kelly. I would like a woman president someday – one I can respect. Until that happens, I'll vote with my brain and not my ovaries.

    January 28, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  4. judy

    The Kennedys considered all the candidates' positions and endorsed who they think is the best candidate. Remember: Its not about gender or race, its about choice...something we are all entitled to.

    January 28, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. deb

    This is the most gender biased claim I have ever read. What about choosing a candidate on merit???? Obama is the better candidate. The Kennedy endorsement is wonderful news for an underdog candidate fighting other prejudices and bias. Nuff said.

    January 28, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. DB

    Just to clarify this is not about race or gender.

    Smoke and mirrors............

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. Ron

    Before deciding to vote I ran across the below noted article, Just the info below got me interested
    enough to investigate so I read the 3 short pages there-in -– I put it here in case you would like to read it before SUPER TUESDAY.

    Clinton donor gets a Presidential Pardon AFTER a $450.000.00 donation to Mr. Clintons Library Foundation??
    AFTER DONATING ??? Ya, Right

    The Subject title here is copied from the below noted article!
    Please read the full following NEW YORK TIMES article before commenting here.

    This is the article WOLF BLITZER was referring to at the debate last fall when HILLARY side stepped him and didn't /wouldn't answer truthfully.

    When Hillary voters read this article they might change their minds.

    Go to: msnbc.com
    Type into the site search box: "Clinton Library"
    Then find and Click on the article called: "Clinton Donors Overlap"

    Feel free to forward this information to any voter you want, I am.

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. JB

    ....hmmmm.

    Missed the mark on this one NOW-NY.

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. Dianna

    As a woman, I'm offended that a women's group thinks it should dictate who I support for president. I don't know who I am voting for on Tuesday, but I will tell you this neither race nor sex will be the deciding factor. Grow up people.

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  10. Andy, New York, New York

    NOW-NY is worried about Ted's endorsement interfering with White male and female voters in New York.

    NOW-NY probably feels Obama is going to lock up the African American votes anyway, and if enough Latinos and Whites follow their South Carolina counterparts, then it could be another ROUT or BEAT DOWN of Hillary!

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. Glen, Boston, MA

    Supporting Hillary simply because she is a woman is bigoted and degrading to her candidacy and the power of women.

    I think these women of NOW are blinded by their lust for female power and will stop at nothing to tear down opposition – even go so far as to strip another woman and man of their right to choose what they believe to be a more qualified candidate.

    I am the most open minded person you will ever encounter – but this is a very outdated form of feminism akin to the Al Sharpton form of racial-bating and the James Dobson form of Evangelizing.

    The entrails off the 60s are finally fading and a new era is emerging. It can't come soon enough!

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  12. Samantha

    First Hillary cries, and then NOW releases this statement? Thanks for making me ashamed of being a woman BY PLAYING THE GENDER CARD.

    This white WOMAN is voting for Obama.

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  13. Karin

    As a woman I feel I must comment and say that NOW doesn't speak for me. I don't feel "betrayed" by Sen. Kennedy. It's his choice to choose whom he wants to support and it's my choice as well.

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  14. Arune

    It's this "either you're with us or you're against us" belief that really angers me about people come election time. Because Sen. Kennedy supports a candidate other than NOW's candidate of choice, it's suddenly alright to call him sexist and a traitor to the feminist cause, right? Forget the fact that the decision to endorse Obama may have been made based on Obama's vision for the future, right? I certainly don't think so, and I wish people could respect each other's differing opinions without this unnecessary and divisive name-calling.

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  15. Caroline

    NOW is stuck in the 80's. We need to pick the RIGHT candidate because we think he/she can do the job, not just because of the politician's sex, race or religion.

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. Donny

    What do you expect? Women from New York aren't real women, anyhow.

    January 28, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. beth

    How offensive!!! Because Hillary is a woman I should vote for her. I suppose NOW-NY agrees with Bill that the only reason Obama won in SC was because he got the black vote. What about my vote ? I'm a white woman and I voted for Barack. Does that mean I've betrayed my gender and my race ? NOW-NY just shot themselves in the foot it makes them look small and petty and way, way out of touch. The time for change is now not with NOW-NY.

    January 28, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. tim

    their blatant support for hilary clinton over barack obama clearly proves that they are racist. i hope the day comes when they will support the idea of a black president.

    what a joke.

    January 28, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  19. tyson

    Is it me or does this seem like the kind of rhetoric that really turns people away from politics?

    Is it possible that Sen. Kennedy chose someone that he truely believed in? I guess if you ask any member of NOW he did not...does this mean that NOW possibly feels that any woman who choses a candidate other than Hillary is betraying all women? Is it possible for someone to feel that there are people out there that will do a better job than Hillary without being accused of holding women back?

    What happened to a country where you are free to chose who you want?

    I would hope that people would start listening to issues and voting for more than someones appearance...how about the "content of their character?"

    January 28, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  20. elly

    If there's one person who has outdone Bill Clinton's shananigans it's Ted Kennedy. The statement by NY NOW is correct in all ways. We have looked beyond the outrageous behavior and respected his senate achievements. He divided the party in 1980 by running hard against Jimmy Carter and then acting like a boar at the convention. Now, he not only endorsed Obama, he made disparaging and belittling comments about the Clintons. Why is it that 16 twisted barbs toward Hillary in one speech is not considered negative or devisive? So much for the campaign of hope and unity. Ted Kennedy killed that in one fell swoop.

    January 28, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  21. PJ, Troy New York

    It's true, Kennedy can't handle the fact that Hillary Clinton is running for president and even with the huge amount of negative news coverage, she's still doing well! Kennedy tried to run for president and failed! If Ted Kennedy is so wonderful and his endorsment is 'gold', why didn't he win the presidency when he ran?? This Kennedy endorsment means nothing to the average voter. The majority of people in this country think Ted Kennedy is a big loser. What a joke this is!

    January 28, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  22. Glen, Boston, MA

    Supporting Hillary simply because she is a woman is bigoted and degrading to her candidacy and the power of women.

    I think these women of NOW are blinded by their lust for female power and will stop at nothing to tear down opposition – even go so far as to strip another woman and man of their right to choose what they believe to be a more qualified candidate.

    I am the most open minded person you will ever encounter – but this is a very outdated form of feminism akin to the Al Sharpton form of racial-bating and the James Dobson form of Evangelizing.

    The entrails off the 60s are finally fading and a new era is finally emerging!

    January 28, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. Steve, Chappaqua, N.Y.

    What does NOW-NY have to say about Caroline Kennedy's endorsement?

    January 28, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  24. Please

    Well, we've seen the racist remakes used by Bill... now here come the Hillary fueled feminists... Time to pull the gender card this time. Man... I almost can't wait for this ridiculous election to be over. What a mockery of the system.

    Utterly infuriating.

    January 28, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. H.L.

    Oh, the insanity. People, please don't EVER think NOW speaks for all women. They said it all in their own statement: "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."

    Not that Kennedy would not endorse a female candidate (or support a female president), but that he won't endorse THIS female candidate. If Hillary had politics and views that were more stable than a schizophrenic crack addict, she might actually get some respect from women who can think, feel, and act for themselves.

    For myself, I'm going to be voting for a PRESIDENT in November, not a set of reproductive organs.

    January 28, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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