January 29th, 2008
08:54 AM ET
15 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. J Wilson

    The good news is that I fully expect Barack Obama to stay above Team Clinton's newest walk through the swamp...

    It's the same reason that he'll be the next president of the United States.

    January 29, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Oh dear Lord! Notice they didn't lambast Oprah for "betraying" them when she backed Obama? Female chauvanist cows!
    You're SUPPOSED to be the better gender for crying out loud! Stop acting like spoiled children and wake the fetch up!

    January 29, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  3. Nick

    Some thoughts:

    1.) Reminds me of when the NAACP called Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell "uncle toms" for serving in the Bush Administration...

    2.) Gloria Steinem must be a racist for not endorsing Obama...duh. She must just not be ready for a black president. Maybe it's the cultural stereotypes of black men that inform her organization's decision to brand anyone supporting a black presidential candidate as sexist?

    3.) I bet Hillary's unsavory campaign is behind this to some degree...

    4.) Where do any of these people posting things like "Go Hillary! Hillary will win!" come from? I've never met any of you before...I'd love it for one of you to point to a poll showing Hillary having a better chance in the general against any of the Republican candidates than Obama. Republicans are looking forward to a Clinton candidacy, and fearing an Obama candidacy. That's telling. When all her skeletons come out, she will be completely destroyed. If she's lucky, Hillary might beat Huckabee and Giuliani, but that's about it. She'd probably even lose to Ron Paul.

    5.) It must be a cold day in hell. Republicans everywhere are defending Ted Kennedy...

    January 29, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. latifaz

    What a missed opportunity to talk about real issues.

    It is insulting at best to think that biggest point dividing the two democratic hopefuls boils down to race or sex. The reason that women have the rights they have today is because they road the waves of justice rippled by the Civil Rights Movement. NOW, Hillary, the former Goldwater girl, will have her day when and if she is ready to focus on the issues and not the smoke, mirrors or tears.

    What is particularly disheartening is that she had to cry in NH to become more likeable. I think If ever I felt belittled as a woman, it was at the point when she played into emotional steriotypes to win the polls, "heard you and found her voice."

    Bill me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like Faiytales.

    January 29, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  5. Pat M

    This move by Now has hurt their credability and has done no favours for Hillary.

    This is hypocritical at best. Does Now not believe that all are entitled to Freedom of Choice? Is a woma's Freedom of Choice different from a Man's? Is Ted Kennedy not free to support who he wishes?

    And to say that Ted Kennedy should have supported Hillary out of gratitude for her help is more than pathethic! It certainly didn't look like Hillary took any offense over his choice of support last night. So why should Now?

    It seems apparent that the Now Movement needs an election, for a leader. One who can move them in the right direction! The member who authorized this ridiculous public statement for Now should be releived of their duties immediately or the organization should hire someone that has experience in PR.

    January 29, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  6. Bruce Taylor,Berkeley/Sacramento,CA

    The gender issue is a non-issue among intelligent people. However,that said,the candidate who can best state their vision and bring diverse people to that vision and have them work toward its realization,is Barack Obama.

    January 29, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |


    January 29, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |

    By the way Kennedy who?

    Kennedy's are has beens!!!


    BOO CNN!

    January 30, 2008 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  9. Electress

    Let me point out what Chris Matthews asked Hillary yesterday:
    Do you have control of your MAN? I suppose I thought that was an ok
    question. But was the question more to the point, do you have a handle
    on him in your campaign? Isn't that rather strange, why didn't he ask
    Obama does he have a handle on his wife, when she stated, blacks need to
    wake up. Trampling on Hillary, he also said yesterday, that all the
    "Guys" are great candidates. He is a presistent critic who doesn't get it, and
    his bias shows daily. It's so staged, and so one sided, and so sexist.

    All the contrived coverage of race has everybody in an uproar. Don't you
    think cnn and others should be more responsible regarding racism and
    sexism in the political arena?

    The ideal that the Kennedy's will inject more juice into Obama's campaign
    for real change and real hope just echoes the moneyed elite and their
    jewels. They want you to buy in the idea that Obama is the good man with
    ideals of Hope and Change. Saying that, let us remember WOMEN have
    been in the Good Fight for Change for over 300 years in America.
    Hillary is a strong woman, that is why she will win. Keep an open mind
    with the upcoming months ahead.

    I take pride when Hillary focuses on the issues. She fights for
    Human Rights, and will restore intergity to our government. I am proud
    everytime the Clintons open their mouth, and I am proud everytime NOW
    opens it's mouth.

    This isn't a fishing expedition, it's presidential contest, and Hillary is out to WIN.
    You can trust the women voters!

    January 30, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  10. Tim

    I am a 47 year old male. I have no problem with a woman being the next president.
    Everyone is talking about change but when Bill left the office 8 years ago, we had a surplus of money and we were not spending 300 million a day a a war. wouldnt that be change enough to get the economy back on track and get us out of debt.
    What do we really know about this 46 year old afro american. he votes present when he doesnt what to answer a question. He has Oprey backing him money wise. So why hasnt the press been all over Oprey about donating all that money to a black canidate. Does that make her racis? Shes never backed anybody before but now she backs a black man. I wish the press would leave the Hillary alone for a while. I think the people of Florida spoke last night almost 1million of them .
    The Republicans fear Hillary, That is why the Republicain owned news stations are always bashing her. If you people want a change you better open your eyes Its Hillary not Obanan. Because is the Hillary doesnt get the nomination we will have a repubican for 8 more years and 8 more years of the same old Bush b.s

    January 30, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Dee Dee

    Supporting Obama is not anti-woman. Mr. Kennedy has the right to support whomever he what's too. NOW-NY's comments is one of the reasons why I will never support NOW.

    January 30, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. Kenrie

    Based on the this move by the "National Organization for Women" – you can clearly see what grounds they will be basing their vote on. It certainly won't be whose best for the job – their vote will be strictly based on the candidate's gender. Sad!

    January 31, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  13. SS

    How ignorant.

    January 31, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. gianis

    maintaining blind loyalty to a club, society, organization, etc will restrict free thought and can misdirect the better results. Good for you Ted.

    February 5, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  15. Dabney

    Why did you censor me? I have read everything I said in biographies of JFK. I didn't say anything that men who worked with him did not put in books. Why was what I said not allowed on your site?

    February 5, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  16. Latinnosgetagrip

    Why so many woman are hating on Hillary just because she got there first...
    So many men (ted kennedy who lives in the shadow of the Kennedy name) are hating the fact that the country WILL be run by a woman...

    Why all the haters!.... 🙂

    Hillary '08 and '12

    February 5, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. Michael

    Irresponsible statements like this only serve to divide the democratic party and distract from the real issues. If this woman's group would have thought about that before making this unfounded claim, they would have realised that by making it they are in fact hurting their cause. Think about this for a second; Senator Clinton wins the democratic presidential nomination. She is running in a two party system. In one of those parties her family is reviled, making cross party voting much less likely. Now add to that the alienation of those within her party who voted for obama; roughly 1/2 of her own party. Each party makes up about 1/2 of the total votes cast in each presidential election. Do the math, they're shooting themselves in the foot.

    February 6, 2008 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
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