January 29th, 2008
08:54 AM ET
6 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. Mia, Stafford, VA

    Endorsements do not tell people who to vote for, they tell you why they are voting for the person – get a grip people!

    January 29, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  2. sally

    Oh please! Billary is just not the right candidate! but now both candidates have a former drunk, womanizing cheat backing them...thats equality!

    January 29, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. Anonymous

    I agree nearly verbatim with Suziku!

    As a female voter, I would happily and eagerly vote for a woman if I thought she deserved the vote, and was the right woman for the job. As a woman and a New Yorker, I don't beleive Hillary fits that bill, not based on her track record here, or her track record overall.

    I have been impressed with Obama, his candor , his concepts and his dignity. He has my vote as the right man for the job and if that jeopardizes my standing in NOW ... well then... shame for them not recognizing that there are men who can make a difference in womens issues as well as minority issues (after all, ladies, we are still treated as a minority!)

    January 29, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  4. BCNU purple state, usa

    More special interest whining turning the Democrat Party into the Donner party.

    January 29, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. A Brody K

    Wow – How over the top can you get... "The ultimate betrayel..."

    It's stupid things being said like that, which made me switch my support from Hillary to Obama...

    Not supporting Hillary Clinton, is not the same as not supporting women – and everytime her supporters try to make a point like that, she will lose more educated voters like myself.

    January 29, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. gladys

    Women should vote for somebody who they believe in, not just because she's a woman.
    If senator Kennedy believes in Obama, then his decision to endorse him should be respected.

    January 29, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. Ross, Manlius, NY

    What a lie! NOW doesn't get its own way, so it must be that everyone else is sexist. Of course, their backing of Hillary Clinton for President because she's a woman isn't sexist at all, right?!

    January 29, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. b....

    I have an open mind. In fact, I think a woman as president could really provide new opportunity for the USA. New opportunity, new perspectives, and new accopmplishments, resulting in new global respect. However, the response by NOW suggests that Senator Kennedy should have given his support to H Clinton because of her gender. What about the possibility of considering someone other than Clinton a better all around candidate? This position is the most important on the planet, and to imply one candidate is better than another only because of gender is nothing short of ludicrus! 'Support her because she is a/and represents women'; how different would that be from 'don't vote for him because he is Muslim?' You are isolating a qualified individual based upon a characteristic which is insignificant. Get with it people!

    January 29, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  9. JIM - Colorado

    Are they serious?

    January 29, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. AB

    Obama is not qualified to be President. He is way to green and inexperienced. If you vote for Obama you probably voted for the WORST President in history who has drove America right into a ditch GWB drunken fool.

    January 29, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. Ms Isabel

    I am terribly disppointed with this statement from NOW that Kennedy has betrayed women. Though am a woman and totally believe that it is time for a woman to be president in this country, I totally reject the idea that the mere fact that Clinton is a woman should automatically give her the presidency or buy the women's vote wholesale for her.

    Clinton has shown herself as a divisive factor and I do not see her carrying everyone along in America. If a woman has to be president it has to be the RIGHT WOMAN. This feminist nonsense has gone way too far and women should realise that if they want equal respect and opportunities as men, they have to fight for it rather than expect it to be handed to them.

    American women should pick the candidate that can do the job, not one they share the same sex with. This is a big disappointment.

    January 29, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  12. C. Nini Lynch

    Dems need to choose for themselves. I am amazed at the length of time Ted Kennedy (who rose on the coattails of his brothers and through little effort of his own) has been allowed to call himself the "leader" of the Democratic party.
    I found it to be typically arrogant that he would have the audacity to call Bill Clinton and tell him how to conduct himself. I wonder did he also called Barrack's wife?
    I am a proud Democrat and will support whomever the party chooses, but I don't think it is Ted Kennedy's or John Kerry's place to make the choice or take advantage of their positions to boost someone else.
    I wonder if Al Gore will come out for anyone?
    Hillary has earned her right to run through her support of women, veterans and the less fortunate in our country.
    Barrack Obama is a gifted speaker, but that does not necessarily make him a gifted President.
    Barrack's ability to speak and win young people over will not ultimately result in the ability to convince Republicans to give up their tax cuts for the wealthy and their "oil war".
    I support Hillary Clinton for President of the United States, but I will go with the party's choice. I hope it is ultimately Ms. Clinton.

    January 29, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  13. Dee

    I am not surprised that the Prince of Chappaquiddick would endorse a man. Hillary Clinton is a champion for all women. "Uncle Teddy" showed his regard for women when he abandoned one to a watery death rather than risk his political career.

    January 29, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  14. Nerakami

    This demonstrates what is wrong with the way folks in politics and these organizations think and operate. We talk about democracy in this country and yet someone makes a personal choice and he is being blasted for it... this is so wrong on so many levels. Betrayal of what... the right to make a personal choice, the right to follow one's heart and mind, the right as an individual to do what you think is right for this country? The National Organization for Women needs to stop acting like we live in a dictatorship country and go back and read the Constitution of the United States of America. In other words, grow up...

    January 29, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. US Woman

    This is why feminism has a bad name in this country. You are as bad as a racist when you start degrading people b/c they are not like you. How can you choose a president based solely on the fact that they are male or female. This is crazy. Everyone in this blog can see that Hillary has no chance of winning the general election. So I feel that Kennedy did what he had to, endorse a candidate who can actually become president not one who is only running so she can claim to be "the first woman president".

    January 29, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. gerber

    @morrow

    I think your missing the point. Its not about choosing a person with a longer record in the past. Its about choosing the person with the right ideas to move forward, and that is a matter of opinion and political philosophy. If this was a Condi Rice vs Barak Obama, i'm sure you would prick Condi right... after all she does have a longer record of public service.. RIGHT? Your argument is built on sandy ground.

    January 29, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  17. Poli

    The bra burners got burned! :)

    Hillaryous! (Pun intended)

    January 29, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  18. Joshua Ludd

    Their statement is pure unadulterated sexism. Hillary Clinton is a politican and an individual. She should not be supported by ANYONE simply because she is a woman. If her record and her statements of what she will do in office are or are not adequate to sway someone to her side, her genitals should not make any difference.

    January 29, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  19. Marcia, NY

    Kennedy has shown us what John Kerry already has: that he too is a member of the good ol' boys network, and can't stand the fact that a woman could become the president of the United States!

    January 29, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  20. JD

    This women's group need to look at themselves. It isn't about gender or race, it's about who would be better to run our country. They need to blame Bill Clinton for his attacks, that's one of the reasons that helped the Kennedy's decide on who they were going to endorse. I'm a black american women and I'm still unsure, however, I'm not going to make an a- – out of myself and march with some women that have issues with themselves and want to blame someone else for their pain. The Kennedy's/People of the UNITED STATES have the right to endorse/vote for who they want (THAT'S THEIR RIGHT)! So women rest your necks!

    January 29, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  21. Tyler

    This race is turning out to be very ugly. It worries me, because I think it will turn many independants to the republican side come this fall. The democrats need to end this garbage dumping , because it's only going to hurt us.

    I understand all the up-heval. We have our first viable African American and Women running for President. It's Inevitable that the Race and Gender Cards are going to be played. But we need to get back to the issues facing this country.

    And for the record, Obama and Teddy have been way too chumy, last night at the State of the Union, this morning on the Today Show etc. The Kennedy Endorsment was nothing but to spite the Clintons. The Kennedy's want to hold their post as the ultimate political dynasty.

    If Obama wants to turn the page on the old political system and bring about a change in politics, step one should be to dump the Kennedys, who do nothing but emulate our political past.

    January 29, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  22. joe

    FACT:::

    OBAMA IS CHAIRMAN OF SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON EUROPE

    OBAMA HAS NOT VISITED THE REGION

    OBAMA HAS NOT HELD A SINGLE POLICY ORIENTED HEARING SINCE CHAIRMAN

    TIMES ARE HARD FOR US FOLKS

    OBAMA IS ALL HYPE

    WE NEED A WORK HORSE NOT A SHOW HORSE

    January 29, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  23. SHELBY SHARPS

    WE AS WOMEN HAVE SUPPORTED THE KENNEDY'S FOR OUR LIFE TIME OF HELPING IN POLOTIC'S BUT HIS INDORSING OBAMA OVER THE ONLY WOMAN TO EVER BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT IS A SLAP IN THE FACE TO ALL OF US WHO SUPPORT HILLARY. MR. KENNEDY ALL YOUR LIFE TIME THAT YOU HAVE EMBARRASED US LADIES WITH SOME OF YOUR HI-JENKS IN YOUR LIFETIME AND THE DEATH OF A YOU CAMPAIGN HELPER WE HAVE STOOD BESIDE YOU, BUT THIS IS TOO MUCH--GOOD BY TO YOU AND YOUR.

    A TRUE DEMOCRAT LADY IN WEST VIRGINIA.

    SHELBY SHARPS

    January 29, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  24. Zsanett

    Do people really care who Kennedy endorses as a candidate? Its not like Ted is an upstanding citizen with any real power outside of his home state. Media used "from Kenya to Camelot"...well America, Camelot died with JFK! Ted Kennedy is not holding the torch for freedom and integrity! I was not and will never be impressed by who a Kennedy endorses. In fact, I would think many people would agree that a Kennedy endorsement does not equate to votes!

    January 29, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. Go, Hillary!

    Consider the source - Ted Kennedy - who has shown about as much respect for women in his life as an amoeba. And yes, folks, it IS about gender! It's about the "good old boys" wanting a "new boy" they can twist and shake around, rather than having an experienced, strong woman who has her own convictions! And did you see how Obama fawned all over Ted during the State of the Union speech? Geez!

    January 29, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
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