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. JT

    Hillary's loss would be the best thing that could happen for women's groups. They need to strike while the iron is hot and use it to energize more women to go into politics. They need to line up a strong woman challenger to oppose every democrat who endorsed Obama in their next primary. That will force all of those men and even some of the women to go out of their way to pursue issues important to women.

    January 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. MIKE

    WHAT IS N.O.W TALKING ABOUT? DO THEY OR DON'T THEY WANT WOMEN TO BE EQUAL? WELL LAST TIME I CHECKED THIS WAS AMERICA, AND WE DO HAVE THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE. SENATOR KENNEDY PICKED WHO HE THOUGHT WAS THE BEST CANDIDATE. I SUGGEST N.O.W DOES NOT STRENGHTHEN THE CLAIM THAT WOMEN ARE TOO EMOTIONAL...

    January 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. Judith

    I am a woman and was quite pleased with the Kennedy endorsement of Obama. I was supportive of Bill Clinton during his tenure and since, but have been very disappointed in what has been going on of late. Hillary should run on her own and I think every US Citizen has the right to back the candidate they think will do the best job. NOW is being extremely short sighted in their reaction.

    January 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. Renee,DC

    Ok..As a highly successful, single woman, that has succeeded against ALL odds NOW does NOT speak for me.

    I look forward to the day that we can elect a woman president, Hilary Clinton is simply NOT that woman. Any woman that refuses to embrace herself as a well-rounded, being capable of being attractive, smart and powerful (VOGUE Magazine cover rebuff) is not the vision or representation of a woman i want my daughter to have. I want her to know that she can embrace ALL sides of herself (including her beauty) and be respected.

    I am more than excited to see Caroline Kennedy finally emerging and embracing politics, regardless of the candidate.

    January 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Carol

    Hey America – The Kennedy's had their turn! It wasn't REALLY all that great either. Think. Look back, read the HISTORY. Like I have been saying, "Old Men"! Lies ! Can we really believe politians? Any politian? I also note – isn't Obama 1/2 white? How come he's promoting himself as BLACK. What happened to his white 1/2? I thought an AMERICAN was an AMERICAN. – A whole American. Shouldn't we be voting for a WHOLE AMERICAN PRESIDENT? Not a 1/2 & 1/2? Not a Man or Woman. – We need a whole person, a honest person with integrity and experience. A person we can believe has the best interest of our country and the voters who elect him/her. That's another point too. The voters VOTE should be honored!

    January 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Marion

    How typical of the Clinton's and their camp!!! They don't like the message so they have one of their camp followers trash and slander the messenger. Who's next? Toni Morrison? C'mon we all know that Hillary is running as Bill's surrogate. Or Bill is running Hillary and her campaign? Well, who knows, it's just a ruse to get Bill back in to the White House. That's a disaster waiting to happen.

    January 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. B, USA

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME IF NOW SUPPORTED CAROL MOSLEY BRAUN, A WOMAN AND A FORMER SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS, WHEN SHE RAN AS A DEMOCRTAT IN 2004 !

    January 29, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Nikki

    An educated woman should be more interested in a candidate's stance on the issues rather than their gender. NOW should not support Hillary simply because she is a woman, and Kennedy doesn't have to support Hillary simply because she is a woman. This does not mean that he is deserting women.

    Also, if we keep focusing on the differences of race and gender in this election and calling it “news”, it just shows how far this nation is from true equality.

    January 29, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Bene`

    This NOW group gives women and the embodiment of feminism a bad name. I am an educated African-American woman and I do consider myself a feminist. However, I would never in a million years vote for Hillary Clinton. For these women to whine and even have the audacity to be upset b/c Kennedy did not endorse Clinton; is mind-boggling. Get over it, who cares!!!! Everyone wants to say don't vote based on race or gender, but NOW wants Kennedy to endorse her for the sole purpose that she's a woman. What a double-standard, you ladies should be ashamed of yourselves.

    I strongly believe that a woman in the White House will be good for this country and it is time for a woman in office. BUT NOT HILLARY CLINTON! Her character is not one of moral standards. Everything out of her mouth is lies and deceit. Please research all of the scandals and criminal involvement Hillary has been apart of before voting for her, just because she is a woman. Other women will run and may be the best for presidency at that time, but not Clinton. Clinton and Bush era is over people. Please remember ALL of the mess that the Clinton administration brought w/them to the White House. If you vote for Hillary you are handing the White House over to the Republicans. They will eat her alive and are waiting for a chance to bring up her lengthy record of wrong doings and shady business.

    OBAMA ALL THE WAY!

    January 29, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. Tired of Billary

    NOW would support a communist candidate, as long as that candidate was a woman. NOW is out of touch with the realities of life in the 21st century.

    January 29, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. Vicount Barclay

    Re: The NOW controversy

    Perhaps Sen Kennedy thinks that Barak Obama is a better representative than Mrs Clinton. Sen Obama is far more articulate and has certainly has more charisma! I certainly do and I live in the United Kingdom

    From a White Liberal in the UK

    January 29, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Nile

    Let me see if I've got this straight: NOW wants a sitting senator to endorse a presidential candidate based on that persons gender. Is it possible NOW doesn't see the absurdity of this statement?

    Here's an idea for all the women who believe it's time for a female president. Put your time, energy, money and support into an organization that has credible leadership. The leaders of NOW made complete fools of themselves today. The "bubble-headed bimbo" stereotype lives on.

    January 29, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Ilene

    Just maybe some of us woman think Obama would be the better president. I like honesty and that is never going to come from a Clinton. The lies are a natural way of life for them both. Shame on any woman that would vote for her because she is a woman. Our country is at stake. Grow up!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Raven

    OK, so let me get this straight: because Kennedy supports Obama instead of Clinton, he's inherently sexist and against womens' rights? If you want to make that argument, please, NOW, realize that he's endorsing a black man. Had Kennendy supported Hillary, I don't think the NAACP would be calling him racist. What a joke.

    January 29, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. Susan, NH

    Ted Kennedy called up Bill Clinton and told him to stop the way he ran the campaign. Bill Clinton didn't oblige and angered Ted Kennedy. It probably hurt Kennedy's ego. So he turned around and endorsed Obama. I really have a hard time believe Kennedy's sincerity. It seems more like a revenge to me.

    January 29, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. B.Wood

    I would NOT vote for anything Ted Kennedy endorsed. He is afraid if Hillary gets
    elected she will do an excellent job and open the race up to other women in the future. SHE IS the most QUALIFIED. Like it or not. Obama may be a nice person but, I think he is in la la land to think he can get all the changes he is telling us
    he will get. It just doesn"t make sense

    January 29, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. Obamamania

    Marry Anderson - I think you're a Republican...

    January 29, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. Tammy

    I'm also sick of the way CNN is only covering favourable stories about Obama.

    Go Hillary!!!

    January 29, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. Mike in Florida

    Isn't it interesting an organization that stands for individual rights denies Kennedy his individual right to back whomever he chooses. The irony is thick and reveals the hypocrisy of NOW in New York. According to them, you have the right to choose who they choose and that is no choice at all!

    January 29, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  20. Marion

    How typical of the Clinton's and their camp!!! They don't like the message so they have one of their camp followers trash and slander the messenger. Who's next? Toni Morrison? C'mon we all know that Hillary is running as Bill's surrogate. Or Bill is running Hillary and her campaign? Well, who knows, it's just a ruse to get Bill back in to the White House. That's a disaster waiting to happen.

    January 29, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Oscar, Rio Vista, CA

    If Ted Kennedy wants to endorse Barack Obama then he should be able to endorse Barack Obama. If Charlie Rengal wants to endorse Hilary Clinton then he should be able to do so. No-one is betraying anyone. It's their right to endorse who they want. Just like this crazy women's group. If they want to support Hilary - then good for them. I am an intelligent hard-working white woman and I support Barack Obama. It's my choice and I am not betraying women. I was given the right to vote and when I vote it will be for the person that I believe should be president, not someone who I don't personally believe in.

    January 29, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  22. Nanci

    I'm a feminist and NOW NY STATE does not represent my voice. This hyperbole does great harm to the cause of feminism which is about gender equality at the end of the day.

    I am basing my vote soley on the idea that I'm voting for a person that I think is the best for the job and will not be voting according to any outdated mode of identity politics. The fact Hillary is a viable candidate does mean women can aspire to the heights of power. The fact, that as a woman I can choose her or not choose her, is a victory for feminists all around the world.

    What I like about Obama is that I perceive that he transcends race and gender and offers a hope for a post-identity politics that is about building coalitions and bringing people together not dividing them. And I think that is what Kennedy is responding to and why he's chosen to endorse Obama.

    January 29, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. Erin, New York, NY

    "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."

    Key words are: a woman president... "WHO IS HILLARY CLINTON." I am a woman, and one who respects and promotes women's rights. That being said, no I certainly cannot handle the prospect of Hillary Clinton as President. A woman, yes. Hillary... well suffice it to say I'd sooner vote for Mitt Romney.

    OBAMA'08!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  24. charlotte

    NOW is the time for a Woman...Go Hillary

    January 29, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. dani

    PLs lets cut this story short and elect hillary as PRESIDENT OF AMERICANS WOMAN.

    January 29, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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