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

Women's group slams Kennedy for 'betrayal'


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. Amy

    As a woman I am utterly offended by the absurd statements from the NOW-NY group. To imply that an intelligent man would decide to support someone solely based on gender is idiotic. What about the women supporting Obama – Caroline Kennedy, Oprah – are they saying they wouldn't accept a woman as president. No. They are all saying they don't support Hilary as the first woman president. I believe that one day there will be a woman as president of this country, but I do not choose to support the woman who is running in this election. I do not agree with her policies, her politics, or her. A group for women making such statements is what will push us backwards, not a male senator supporting another male senator.

    January 29, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. Earl

    This is typical Democratic hypocrisy. Liberals are tolerant of people who think the same as them, but start riots if you think differently.

    January 29, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. scott

    I believe that the media has seen no disadvantage to disrespecting the female Democratic candidate while wakling on egg-shells when supposedly diagnosing the record of the black male candidate. Receiving a $300,000 discount on his home in Chicago is more than most of us make in several years, how can that not be an issue of politics as usual? Not much change there!

    January 29, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. H. Taylor

    Why is it so hard for them to understand Kennedy backing Obama? Hilary has a lot of things against her at this point. The fact that she and her husband choose to repeatedly criticize Obama unecessarily is a major strike against her. Honestly I believe her running is just another attempt by Clinton (Bill, that is) to get back into office. I personally don't trust them. Just because she is a woman, as I am, does not mean I should automatically vote for her. Nor should NOW simply endorse her as a candidate. I am thinking of the big picture here. If she becomes president, the country will be more divided than it is now.

    January 29, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. John Q Public

    This is absolute BS! Most people in general do not have a problem with a woman president. But ANYONE with half a brain knows it should not be Hillary Clinton! Her single and absolute goal to be the first women president is driven solely by her ego-maniacal power trip.

    January 29, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Karen from Minnesota

    Why are so many of you worried about Hillary's cheating spouse? Over half the women in the US have cheating spouses. She stayed with him. So what? Sometimes that is the better choice.

    Put Hillary at the head of the ticket with Obama as veep. He will be superbly ready in 8 years and will undoubtedly get a lot of support instead of the barbs that are flying at him now.

    January 29, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Tim

    NOW used to stand for something in this country, but all this article does is prove just how ridiculous and laughable this organization has become.

    They will endorse a female candidate for no other reason than the fact that she's a woman...but dare to berate another politician and say HE'S playing the gender card just because he doesn't agree with them?

    Maybe Kennedy knows something that NOW hasn't figured out yet: If Hillary Clinton is the candidate, Republicans will come out in droves to keep another Clinton out of the White House. But if Obama is the candidate, many Republicans will cross the line to vote for him.

    January 29, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  8. Frances

    As a 61 year old female I'm appalled at the comments made by NY-NOW! I'm a Democrat but I vote for the person, not gender, race, religion, etc.
    I concur with the other comments, grow up and act like adults NY-NOW.

    January 29, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. Alex, Syracuse, NY

    This is absurd. Perhaps those who endorse Clinton should be labeled racist, status quo preserving bigots, because they obviously don't support minority rights. Sounds equally ridiculous, doesn't it?

    January 29, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. jbo

    "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.’”

    This is hogwash. I am not a Clinton or Obama supporter. In fact, I am for whomever is running against them. But to say that if Kennedy or anyone else does not automatically support Clinton or any other female that they do not respect women or want equality for women is ridiculous. Could it be that he looked at both candidates and decided that, for him, Obama is the best CANDIDATE, regardless of his gender, race or any other physical feature? Imagine that! I mean Kennedy is cooky, but he does give a rational thought sometimes.

    The idea is that support for someone other than a female candidate means that you are sexist. That is absurd. There are lots of women I have and would for, but I would never vote for Hillary. I am not a socialist.

    Kennedy had two socialists to choose from, and he chose the most committed socialist. This is very consistent with his political career. Frankly, I would have been surprised if he did NOT endorse Obama. If he had chosen Clinton, the cooky socialists would have cried foul just like some cooky feminists cried foul here.

    Give me a BREAK! I cannot believe that there is a group out there that would have me actually think something supportive of Ted Kennedy! What is our world coming to?

    January 29, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. Paul A.

    Kennedy endosment is not a guarantee ride to the white house. Remember, Ted Kennedy endorsed Kerry and his endorsement jinxed Kerry.

    January 29, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. David Miami FL

    The word for today is "psycho".

    January 29, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Mary

    As a longtime feminist and supporter of NOW, I am totally outraged at the suggestion that Senator Kennedy is betraying women because he is unwilling to endorse Hillary. This is simply the dumbest thing I have ever heard - and reflects very poorly on NOW in specific and the women's movement in general. The whole idea of feminism, in my mind, is to encourage people to be gender blind – not to blindly support anyone on the basis of gender.
    There is no doubt in my mind that I will see a woman president in my lifetime - and I'm 51 years old. Hillary Clinton simply isn't the right woman for the job. And that's not even to mention the fact that she's trying to ride her husband's coattails into the oval office. SHAME ON NYNOW. The statement makes the organization look like a bunch of mindless ideologues.

    January 29, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. William Z. Ft. Lauderdale, FL

    Ted Kennedy is an obsolete, windbag relic from an age long gone by. Has anybody heard of him accomplishing anything in the last 25 years??
    He's a living example of how Democrats have a history of shooting themselves in the foot... resulting in lost elections. Ted Kenndey helped make the word "Liberal" a dirty word to the rest of America. He simply doesn't have a clue! I heard his speech, it was was far more a "Screw You" to Hilary & Bill than an endorsement of Obama. & it reeked of insincere, overblown rhetoric.

    The Republicans have Got to be in heavan over this! Hilary is the only viable candidate w a realistic chance of beating the coming Republican political machine. As far as superficial, feel good but no substance O'bama.... They;re gonna tear him to shreds!

    Hilary has MY vote.. not on personality, not on vague, "feel good" proclamations, not on looking good But simply based on her values, intellect, experience &, most of all, Ability to defeat the Republicans & restore some dignity, values & fairness to our country.

    January 29, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Andrew, MO

    "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."

    Funny, I wouldn't support a male president who is Hillary Clinton either.

    January 29, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. Terry, Rochester, MN

    Way to go NOW. Your organization just put women's rights above all else that matters because a Kennedy didn't give Hillary his endorsement. Wake up and smell the coffee. You've just pushed everything NOW has accomplished as an organization back 20 years because of your BIASED & GENDER BASED decision to blast Kennedy. His decision wasn't because Hillary is a woman, I believe he thinks that it's time for a change and get rid of the old and bring in the new. You've become as bad as the NAACP in losing focus on what is best for your constituents that you allegedly are there to support.

    January 29, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  17. pam,s.c.

    NOW argues kennedy should support clinton because she can best deal with issues that effect women . well as a female voter i would like to think that women would chose a president that could best address issues that effect all americans. this is another example of special interest. i am all for a female president not this one however. just as Now is divisive so is hillary. it is time for our country to move forward. we must all unite for the benefit of our country. and obama offers the best hope.

    January 29, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  18. Georgia

    "The ultimate betrayal…"? NOW needs to get over themselves – as someone said, it's not about what's between their legs, but what is between their ears that we should be evaluating.

    I can't wait until this mess we call the "election process" is over.

    January 29, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. Dave

    let's face it. if Ted went with Hillary it would be the NAACP releasing a critical statement. if he went with Edwards it would be both. nobody was going to be happy here. that's the game involved with this puppet show.

    January 29, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Susan

    Obama has shown lack of maturity by looking away, when Senator Clinton came to his area and greeted everyone. She, of course, mean to greet her opponent as a responsible and mature person. Who will unite people more? The senator who turn his head away or the senator who tried to make a truce? Who you want to be our next President?

    January 29, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  21. Mary

    It seems to me that whenever the people from NOW open their mouths it just perpetuates the myths that they themselves seek to put a stop to. They are shrill, unmoving and irrational crybabies who think that anyone (man) who says anything that they disagree with is a sexist jerk and anyone (woman) who agrees with said men must be a backwards fool who wants to return to the days of girdles. I can't stand these people.

    January 29, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  22. Peggy

    i dont know whats worse, this article or people's comments supporting it

    January 29, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. AC

    The problem is not a "woman president" at all. The problem is "a woman president who is Hillary Clinton."

    January 29, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. joe in kc

    This is ridiculous and completely goes against NOW's idea of equality! Chastising a person for not voting for "their" candidate simply because she is a women? Maybe Kennedy simply knows that the only hope they have of defeating the Republicans is to have someone other than a Clinton running against them. As I saw in the local news the other day, "no one brings republicans out to vote like Hillary Clinton!"

    January 29, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. Ron H

    New York's..NOW, get over it. The world does not revolve around your narrow view of the world and who gets what....you must earn it and Hillary did not.

    January 29, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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