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. Maggie, Charlotte, NC

    NOW and organization like it are turning voters against Hilliary with comments like this. No one with any common sense is going to vote for a person based on a gender. If they were, I've got a very smart, loving, devoted, caring and loyal female German Shepard the NOW organization can vote for. P.S. Just heard someone on the radio be asked who he's voting for – his answer: "Anyone but Hilliary." And I agree. Ms. Slick does not deserve mine or anyone else's vote. For her, it's politics as usual.

    January 29, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. ctd9

    Maybe NOW should realize it is not US vs THEM or people betraying other people, it is about what you believe in and maybe T. Kennedy believes in Obama more than Clinton- leave it at that, it is not women vs men, or black vs white, it is about the candidate that can inspire and lift us above the deeply ideological and partisan politics we have been witness to over the last two decades

    January 29, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. llew

    I AM A FORTY-FIVE YEAR OLD MAN, AND IT TOOK THIS MANY YEARS FOR ME TO REALIZE THAT I AM NIEVE. I WAS RAISED TO BELIEVE THAT YOUR WORD WAS YOUR BOND, THAT WAS UNTIL I STARTED WATCHING HILLARY. THIS WOMAN HAS PLEDGED TO FOLLOW THE RULES THAT THE DNC HAD LAID OUT FOR FLORIDA AND MICHIGAN AND 2 FOR 2 SHE HAS FOUND AWAY TO IGNORE THEM. I HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT SHE CAN NOT BE TRUSTED AND THAT SHE IS A POOR EXAMPLE TO HONEST PEOPLE.

    SHE WILL SAY OR DO ANYTHING TO WIN.

    January 29, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  4. Denise

    NOW gives women a bad name by suggesting that women should (and would) vote for a woman presidential candidate simply because of her gender. Anyone who votes for a candidate simply because of race, religion, or gender, without giving a second thought to the issues, should not vote.

    January 29, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. Sharon, Orlando

    There is nothing wrong with Kennedy supporting Obama, he did it for John Kerry as well. Besides he shouldn't endorse a woman candidate because she is a woman. Hillary just has to continue fighting for what she believes in. She has been fighting for civil rights all her life and there is no reason she should stop now.

    January 29, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  6. patty

    Like it or not, women, throughout history, have been seen as the weaker sex. That being said, I, as a woman, am not ready for a woman predident. Our country is at war. The last thing we need right now, is even the "perception" of weakness at the head of our government. -PS

    January 29, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  7. eleanor

    Let the women SHUT UP. Its not about gender, but a real President and moreover, something new which is UNITY.

    January 29, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. Carol Torrie

    I agree that Kennedy has betrayed 'ALL Women' in the U.S., he has joined a long list of 'American Men', who have turned their back's on Hillary, because she is a woman, and they can't stand the idea, that a woman can handle the job, just as well as they can.
    Men have been in power for many years, and I can't see them handling the job well at all.

    January 29, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. ben

    Why leave a comment? YOU NEVER PRINT MINE!!!!!!!
    GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  10. Tiffany Williams

    My god-Is this chapter speaking for all american women or just a privileged select few? I don't recall anyone polling for my answer. If anyone paid attention Caroline backed Barack as well. It's high time that this chapter gets over themselves-NOW.
    !

    January 29, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  11. Ed

    Ted did what was necessary. Hillary had essentially stepped into the background and allowed Bill to run for a 3rd term using backstreet, "dirty tricks" politics. She was allowing HIM to tear the party apart!! Now that's BAD LEADERSHIP, bad enough to move me firmily into Obama's camp.

    January 29, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  12. lars

    Is it not a form of facism to dictate to people how they are to vote?
    If the only reason to support Clinton is that she is female, it does not make sense.

    January 29, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  13. Dkelsmith

    Soooooo....I guess if he endorsed Hillary Clinton then he would have been disrespecting black people? Give me a break ladies.....

    January 29, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  14. Too

    Sounds like an estrogen laced rant to me. Makes absolutely no sense.

    Obama '08!

    January 29, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  15. Bein Careful

    Now, if NOW hadn't abandoned the women that Bill Clinton abused back in the 90's, I might have some empathy for their stance. However, they proved what they were made of by turning a deaf ear and falling all over the piece of white trash from Arkansas. Hillary Clinton is no different except for being from Illinois.

    January 29, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. Ralph

    Its no secret that Ted doesn't respect women, but at least he isn't driving them off bridges anymore. Er Ah Er Ah that was an accident. . . . . .

    January 29, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. Sean, Boston, MA

    Since when had the Kennedy family been so "above it all" and annointed as the holy ones when it came to campaigning. They've played every dirty trick in the book, so not sure where Ted comes off being unhappy as to how the Clintons are running.

    January 29, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  18. Ainars

    This is lie! I am really suprised about this organization, because in democracy everyone has rights to support what he wants. It is free choise of Kennedy and anyone need to respect it. It is very bad that there is voices in America, who wants to stay against freedom of speech and freedom of opinions.

    January 29, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  19. D.S.

    You don't get it, ladies. It's not that he doesn't support women; he doesn't support THIS woman.

    Moreover, you're coming across as hysterical. Get over it.

    January 29, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  20. ACT

    Come on girls (National Organization for Women – NOW) this is not sticking with the cheer leaders at high school, it is about past vs. future. Kennedy is just supporting the candidate who he sees best for "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". So get over it, it is about what America wants.

    "When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?"

    – Toni Morrison (a real intelligent woman) said about Barack Obama

    January 29, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  21. Gigi

    I'm a young, white, liberal, feminist female who would rather vote for a Republican than Hillary. How can she call herself a strong female when she's relying so much on the experience and support of her husband?

    Obama in '08!

    January 29, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  22. Gayle

    I never thought I'd see the day that I'd really agree with Ted Kennedy - but I do! I'm a successful, professional woman who lived through the "women's movement" of decades ago and saw this same kind of single-minded "women or nothing" attitude. No one is the right choice because of race or gender. Period.

    The real issue is who is right for the job - and continuing the "Clinton Dynasty" is more than I want to deal with. Besides, shouldn't NOW pay attention to the fact that Bill Clinton's heavy involvement in Hillary's campaign will *not* end if she is elected President?

    Albuquerque, NM

    January 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  23. steve o

    Is Karl Rove dressing in drag now?

    January 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  24. Bruce Taylor,Berkeley/Sacramento,CA

    Ted Kennedy(as well as Caroline and Patrick) picked the candidate,not based on gender,who knows how to tell the truth and who wouldn't present duality in leadership by having their spouse as co-president. This sounds rather strongly like swift-boating.

    January 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  25. eddie

    What if Condi Rice had decided to run for the Republicans? NOW and the NAACP would have such an identity crisis it would implode. What a double standard! Clearly, based on NOW's statements, gender means everything and politics is only secondary.

    January 29, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
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