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
Just as voting for someone based on their race is wholly inappropriate, so is voting for someone based on their gender. It all comes down to equality. I am proud that there is a female giving the men a run for their money in this presidential race. But just because she has come as far as she has doesn't necessarily mean she is the right person for the job.
It seems to me that, in the fight for Gender Equality, NOW is setting the cause back a good 15 years.
And, as someone who has been a NOW supporter for over a decade, I find myself disheartened and disappointed.
The time is NOW for something new in Washington and in this country. Stop pushing for votes because of race, gender or religion and start pushing for votes that will make this country whole, NOW try that.
They could at least list the proper title of the Family and Medical Leave Act in their press release. Well done. You get taken more seriously when you don't make sloppy mistakes. It helps if you don't make ridiculous arguments, too.
Whatever happened to choosing the best candidate... PERIOD. The fact that women are voting for Hillary Clinton simply because she is a women is insulting. I do not believe that Mrs. Clinton has the best interest of our country at heart. I believe that she is power hungry and has already exceeded her Presidential Term, while pretending to be 'First Lady.' Enough is enough. Focus on the issues and what the Candidate is going to do for our country. Shame on the NOW organization from NY for promoting sexism. I will vote for a female candidate when she is the Best Candidate.
Do you hear the NAACP coming out and saying anyone not supporting Obama is racist?
This is not the kind of message we need.
As a woman and a supporter of NOW, I feel that the NY chapter of NOW should reexamine its priorities; who will best lead the country in the years of Bush-fallout to come is, and must be, the highest priority for every U.S. citizen.
Issues of race, gender, age, and location are extremely minor compared with this all-important priority. That is the reason why I agree with Senator Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy's support of Barack Obama.
Oh no! How dare he not support a woman! Way to boil it down to men v. women, white v. black... Equality is supposed to be about looking past race and sex, to the person. These women are completely embarressing.
I am getting really annoyed by this race and gander crap. However it is quiet evident that SOuth carolina was vote for race. Now this blog is about gender.
WOW .............. That sure helps Hillary Clintons cause.
Them are some very lame statements to make.
The Kennedy's endorsed the person they feel is best for the job................IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GENDER !
You have got to be freakin kidding me!!! LOL! These people are silly!!! Are you freaking kidding me!!!
Hilliary Clinton can not follow the simple Democrate rules, about not campaigning in the Florida primaries , but yet she was seen campaingning. How can we trust someone that can't keep thier word about following the rules, to keep their promises made while campaigning for President. Obama and Edward are following the campaigne rules, but Hillary feels she is above it all. Vote for Obama, he is the right candidate for the job. Obama For President !
I think the whole idea of endorsements is a bit strange and outdated, and I certainly am not the biggest fan of Ted Kennedy. But as a Hillary supporter and voter, I find it a bit strange that NOW has reacted so harshly. When endorsing a candidate (who happens to be African American and would also represent social progress) while simultaneously complimenting and supporting both Senator Clinton and Edwards ranks in your mind as the greatest betrayal (exclamation point worthy) ahead of title IX, the ERA and Family Leave – you may want to take a moment to get your bearings. All too often people get so wrapped up in their candidate winning they forget everything else. As a white male that has tried to convince other white males to support Hillary I can tell you that I have never gotten the impression that anybody supporting Obama is doing so out of a fear of having a woman as president. In fact everybody I have talked to (regardless of gender or race) view both candidates as refreshing (both in terms of potential and what they represent as progress for our country). When most elections we are faced at choosing the lesser of two evils it is refreshing to have two candidates that we can get behind.
NOW would have been far better served highlighting what Hillary will do for this country than turning Senator Kennedy's endorsement into something it is not.
I once paid dues to NOW. I thought it was a good organization. That was sometime in the 1970's.
But I think it should re-name itself THEN. Thick-headed Hormonal Eccentric NeoCons. And just read Gloria Steinam's absurd pro-Hillary arguments to see how these women we once admired can't even reason straight any more.
One does have to wonder if the Clintons pay NOW's rent in NYC.
I am 62 and a feminist. Obama will have my vote.
Dear Ted Kennedy
WELCOME TO BILL CLINTONS WORLD.
Get attacked for everything no matter what you do.
Just as I figured it would be .... If you don't support a male candidate it's because you don't agree with his views. If you don't support a woman candidate it's because you are anti-women. Besides, after women's unwavering support of the hound-in-chief, they deserve what they get.
Well put everyone! Perhaps more women in the pool of contenders next time around will make for a more interesting 2012 campaign season. This time, however, I don't believe Hiliary has everything we need in a president.
It appears that there will be bra burning tonight at the NOW organization.
Regardless of who the democratic nominee will be, gender or race would not have made a difference in my opinion. It is something we should all be proud of. It is a great indicator of where we are as a country.
People are pretty dumb these days. Too bad this is going to be a gender and race election.
Another integrity lacking supporter of the Clintons.... Just say no to the Clinton's daily DRAMA!
I'm a woman who would gladly choose a female candidate too, but not Hillary. This NOW statement, or whatever it is, in no way representative of how I feel as a woman, a mother, or a voter in this country. They no doubt just lost HRC even more votes.
He didn't choose Obama because he was running against a woman. Even though the fact that that woman was Hillary was probably a huge deterrant... he made this decision because he sees something to believe in when he looks at Obama. If you discredit that, you're pointing your finger in the wrong direction looking for someone to blame.
Well, we show our true color with this type of aittude. I mean this still is about America and freedom of choice or is it you must think like me or you are my enemy. You feel betrayed because you really don't want change or a new direction to go in, just let me have all the pie or I cry betrayal. America is filled with greed and this will be it's down fall because certain people and certain groups want it their way, remember nothing lasts forever, nothing.
I really respect the national chapter of NOW to stand up and say that they still respect Kennedy's opinion. That said, the state group mentioned is a disgusting example of womens pride gone wrong. Hillary is running for president – but the fact that shes a woman doesnt give her the RIGHT to become president. Same for Obama, a black man, and any other candidate – it's an honor bestowed upon (usually) the best qualified candidate. This is independent of race, gender or any biggoted bias one may have. Clearly this womans group chapter is abusing the 19th ammendment by voting based solely on the fact that she's a woman, not for issues – and they're just as bad as the blacks that will vote for Obama for that reason – and just as bad as the racist white male that refuses to vote for a black or a woman. Anyone in these 3 groups – YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED!
I am a woman and I WILL not be voting for Hillary. Maybe Senator Kennedy knows her and her husband a little too well? Maybe that is what caused his decision instead of her being a woman and not wanting a woman for President. I would not mind a woman being president but NOT Hillary......
Totally ridiculous. Are they saying that he should endorse Hillary because she is a woman ???
Absurd claims like they make don't do women any favors.
Wait...it's offensive because he didnt endorse the female candidate?