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. stan pitts pa

    AH , the establishment responds, not surprised! obama 08!

    January 28, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Pabaru Yackabuchi

    It's all about survival of the Democratic Party. Eveyone knows if Hillary becomes the President she will ripped apart by the Republicans for every and all decisions she makes. If Obama is elected eveytime he is criticized the Democrats will cite racial bigotry thus cementing the view that Republicans are the party of bigoted, obese, rich white men.

    January 28, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. larry

    this is just stupid...if a person endorses a man that means he betrayed womens issues...that is just stupid and NOW should be ashamed for being so ignorant

    January 28, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  4. AJ

    Oh my the arrogance of these women's group. Its not just about them, it is for the good of all the United States. I hate these sexist comments from these ultra feminist group. Hillary cannot lead this country not because she is a woman, but because she is part of the politics of old. Only Obama can unite this fractured country.

    Obama 08*

    January 28, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  5. grayfox

    Looks like Bill has gotten some sort of perverse revenge on Hillery...shot her Presidential campaign all to pieces. Nice move Bill.

    January 28, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Memo to my Fellow Democrats:

    1 – Supporting HIllary Clinton does not make you anti-black.

    2 – Supporting Barack Obama does not make you anti-woman.

    3 – Supporting John Edwards does not make you a chauvanist.

    We're in the middle of a process that will select the best possible candidate to lead this country. And we should whole-heartedly support whoever eventually wins the Democratic nomination, and carry them to victory in November. Which will be a victory for ALL Americans, when we can start repairing the damage caused by years of GOP mismanagement in Washington.


    January 28, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. Rafi, NY NY

    I'm going to start counting the number of times CNN uses the words "slams," "blasts," or "takes aim" during the primaries.

    January 28, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. Washington Democrat

    For Obama, it is often said that his "judgment" is more important than experience. Would someone please give me some specific examples of his judgment in action? I don't believe something just because some tells me it is so (in a beautiful voice or not). Also, please tell me specifically how Obama will unite America and work with Republicans? Seems he's had little experience and just a handful of examples of working with Republicans on bills. Again, I'm not going to believe it just because someone tells me it's going to happen…

    CNN and media- please tell us more about Obama so that we can make informed decisions.

    January 28, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  9. MrMagoo

    Perhaps it has nothing to do with the fact that she's a woman and more to do with Kennedy just not supporting her ideals as she's campaigning. Not everything is about gender, ya know? Get over it.

    January 28, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  10. shamous mc

    I've had several bosses whose gender is female.
    I currently report to a female boss.
    I have no issues with a female boss and would have no issues electing a female to the office of the President.
    I do have issues with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the person, gender regardless.
    I will not vote for that Clinton person for a variety of reasons and opinion.
    But based on gender, I could care less.

    January 28, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. Jeremiah Grant, Phoenix AZ

    Now isn't this the ultimate in hypocrisy – one under-represented group whining because it feels like another under-represented group was chosen over it.

    Goodness sakes. Sometimes you just can't win.

    January 28, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. Linda Stoner

    No one should endorse, or vote for a candidate soley for their gender, or their ethnicity. How you vote should be due to your careful evaluation of the type of human being the candidate is, followed by their overall views on the issues that concern all Americans. To support a candidate because he or she is a male or a female, or because he or she is of a certain race is ludicrous, and shows poor judgement. I am disappointed to read that this chapter of NOW has taken such a spiteful stance against Ted Kennedy for choosing to do what, in his estimation, is the best thing for all Americans, without excercising the type of bias being shown by NOW.

    January 28, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. Christian, Tampa FL

    Well, Hillary supporters have already brought race into the race. Why don't they just go all the way and bring gender into it as well?

    For Pete's sake.

    January 28, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  14. Bill

    I usually do not agree with Kennedy..but, today he hit a homerun! GOOD FOR HIM>>GOOD FOR OBAMA>>>GOOD FOR THE USA!

    January 28, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  15. Kelly Greene

    NOW vs. Teddy.

    Big Deal!

    One anachronism fighting another.

    January 28, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  16. z

    Oh please, it's not a man vs woman thing. I am for women's rights and empowerment, but please... just shut up.

    There will be more respectable women who can run in the future. Just not Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  17. rbg

    THAT'S RIGHT. Way to tell it like it is, NOW. That is exactly right. Ted Kennedy comes from a lineage of men who have proven time and again that they don't respect women. Teddy the "lion" would feel threatened by a strong woman like Hillary being HIS president. Too bad, Teddy, you're going to have to get over it.

    HILLARY 2008

    January 28, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. Jose Card - Independent

    It's perfectly fine if the woman group wants to elect Hillary as the president of American women.

    Hillary is not running as an independent woman. She will make believe in all girls that you have to marry a president first before you can be elected the president of the United States. She will do more harm than good for American women.

    January 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  19. RA Velasquez

    From readng the article, it sounds like the women of NOW are backing Hillary Clinton only because she is a woman and not because she is the best candidate.

    The democratic party has had eight years to come up with a plan and they have done nothing. Even the eight years prior under the Clinton admin they did vely little. Sixteen year is a long time to sit on the butts. Everyone is talking about "
    experience" and how it's important. My repsonce, look where expierence has taken us.

    It's time to pick new leadership.


    January 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  20. Texrat, Fort Worth, TX

    methinks NOW doth protest too much.

    January 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. lou

    waaa waaa waaaa

    January 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  22. Chris

    Ted Kennedy can't please everyone...

    January 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  23. Patricia

    As a woman and (minority), I'm surprised by the comments of NOW. Do they believe Senator Kennedy is obligated to support Clinton because she is a woman, or worse yet, because he owes it to them? This is the kind of political deal-making that we want to move away from. Why can't Senator Kennedy endorse the candidate that he personally believes is the best Democratic candidate for our country in 2008?

    January 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. Cliff W

    Could also be it's that whole electable-in-the-general-election thing.

    January 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. Adam, Los Angeles

    I wish, for the sake of humanity, that people would quit making this a candidacy about gender and ethnicity. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD PEOPLE, STOP!!! Stop playing the uterus card! Stop playing the black card! And maybe, just maybe we'll get a president who stands for principals.

    Shame on NOW for attempting to make women like betrayers for not voting for fellow-fallopian!

    January 28, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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