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. debbie

    Maybe she wouldn't date him, fearing he might drown her in an auto accident.

    January 28, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. andy

    It seems as though you do not want a woman to lead the country? look at what your saying ! do you think these women are alone? No Latinos feel the same way so how could you say that these women are wrong ? maybe you cant see how males view women or how the country still to this day sees women or maybe you do not care ?

    January 28, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  3. Pat

    Is the NOW group suggesting that Sen. Kennedy should have endorsed Sen. Clinton merely because she happens to be female? This notion is ridiculous. Hopefully the women of NOW will not be voting or advocating Sen. Clinton's nomination purely based on gender. The idea that one should support Sen. Clinton based on gender is just as absurd as supporting Sen. Obama based on his ethnicity. Hopefully Sen. Kennedy and everyone else will support candidates based on each candidate's potential for good leadership and his/her ideas of what policies are in the nation's best interests.

    January 28, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. jess

    My email to NOW's New York office.

    –I find this chapters demonization of Sen. Kennedy to be over the top. For us who have supported rights of all people, this move can only be seen as divisive and bullying. Yes, I am a male but I believe and support equality for all people. I personally see it as a slap in the face. I support Obama. My girlfriend supports Obama. My mother supports Obama. In a way you are saying that their choice is wrong because it does not match yours. Shame on you. Everyone's opinion matters. That is how we create unity. I am all for seeing a woman in the White House. But I, among many others chose to support Sen. Obama. I support your right to endorse Sen. Clinton. At least your national office is for the rights of all. But you just gave the movement for equality and free choice a black eye.

    January 28, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. Emily

    Like it or not, they are being sexist. I realize a majority of men in our society make it hard for women to live and oppress them too, but Barack Obama is not one of those individuals. You can't choose a candidate based on their sex, gender, age, or religion. You choose them on how well you think they can do their job. Plus Hillary's campaign is getting increasingly dirty as she continues to feel more in trouble.

    January 28, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  6. Christina

    I think the womens group should deal with it, and stop being sexist. As a women I would love to have a female president. But Hillary come on get real, lets end the Clinton/Bush era.

    January 28, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  7. ntwg

    I'm curious.....Ted hasn't been coherent in a decade – did he offer his support through a spokesman?

    January 28, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  8. Christopher

    I actually sat stunned for a moment as I read this. Can Now truly understand what they are saying by this?? It is our "obligation" to vote for the first woman president? Shouldn't it be our obligation to, say... vote for THE BEST CANDIDATE no matter their sex, race, creed, etc.? Holy smokes, Batman! (Ooops, now I've just offended NOW. I should say, "Holy smokes, Batperson!")

    January 28, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. JohnnyBGoode

    NOW sucks! Outdated and behind the times. Look around feminazis! Women are running corporations, are in Congress and yes – a few have even run countries – though not the USA yet. Give me a break. The Kennedys have done more for this country than NOW EVER has or will. Their statement is as ludicrous as some of the comments Bill has made in recent weeks. Just another special interest group that puts its own cause/agenda over what is best for our country. Hillary is not the best Democratic candidate. I – like many other men of all colors and races – would not mind a bit to see a woman become president. Just not Hillary! Just as what has happened with Obama, one day the right woman will come along.

    January 28, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  10. Ignatz Horowitz

    Proof that NOW is as evil as Hilzilla.

    January 28, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  11. chitown

    This is totally ridiculous, how would this be any different from Al Sharpton ordering every black person to vote for Obama and calling all those who express independent choices traitors?

    I long to see the day a credible female candidate would seek the presidency on account of her own achievements not because her husband an ex president is shoving her candidacy down everybody's throat. I think people are rejecting the Clintons and what they stand for as opposed to not endorsing Hilary because she is a woman. This explains the rabid feminism and not so subtle racism being exhibited by some of her supporters on numerous sites.

    January 28, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. Hannah

    I find this reaction by NOW frustrating, especially since I usually agree with them and as a democrat. As a woman I support Barack Obama, not because I don't want to see a woman as president (in fact I would love to see it) but because I don't want Hilary to be president. There is a huge difference. It has nothing to do with race or gender. This is childish and a deliberate attempt to derail the endorsement of the Kennedys, one of which is a woman. Grow up.

    January 28, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. John


    This is great. WAAAAAAAAA whine some more WAAAAA they didn't pick my candidate. Does NOW think we should pick Hillary just because she is a woman? Hahahahaha. Typical liberals!

    January 28, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  14. carl

    By this logic, anyone who supports a candidate from either party that is not Hillary Clinton is a sexist.

    January 28, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  15. Jon

    Love how Clinton supporters continue to spread messages of hate and divisiveness while Obama's talk about Hope, Unity, Love and Respect. Which do you want deciding the fate of your country?

    January 28, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. Carlos

    If I was Hillary, I definately would not want Ted kennedy's nor John Kerry's endorsement. After all, they both were rejected by many when they ran for president. So much for change...what a joke....

    January 28, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  17. J

    Where are the Clinton supporters? According to polls, they are in the majority, but they are silent on this? Maybe they are as embarressed as all intelligent people. Vote for who you think is the best, not their gender or color. For the record, Barbara Dole would have made an excellent leader ... Hillary Clinton is not a good choice!

    January 28, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  18. Jeff Bernard

    We have a chance of electing a man who is the only candidate for President who has a plan and past track record to restore the USA to its original identity. The others only bring snake oil and corruption camouflaged by Madison Avenue experts and as usual empty words and huge egos.

    Ron Paul is and has been consistent, check His record and his plans. He only follows the Constitution and nothing more. If we do not elect him because he lacks charisma, and false promises, We deserve the dim and ruinous future for the USA. The American people are spoiled and selfish. Since my child hood (17) I have sworn to defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Having completed a 22 year military career, and a second career. I have retired. If the citizens neglect to elect Ron Paul, they deserve what they get. the Partisan ship, the graft, the crocked deals, as they sell their children and grand children into economic slavery and America into Oblivion.

    Jeff Bernard,

    January 28, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  19. Mo

    It has been fun to watch the dems play the race and gender card. If they were really "progressive" it wouldn't be an issue. I would choose a black women over either Barack or Hillary, but Condi Rice isn't running.

    January 28, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  20. Patch

    The National Organization of Women should be ashamed. This pushes suffrage back.

    Naysayers cannot hold a candle to the Hopemongers. Gender and race are not categorizations by which to chose a leader. Character and ideals are.

    NOW has sullied their former good-standing by standing more with the lobbyists and less with the people of America that only wish for equal representation.

    For shame, NOW. For shame.

    January 28, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  21. Concerned Citizen

    All media outlets consistently portray everything the Clinton's say or do in a bad light. Most media act like they truely hate the Clintons and judge them for things they do themselves, but just don't get caught. Mr. Kennedy is supposed to be friends with the Clinton's, if he is, who needs enemies. I do feel whether he supports Clinton or not she will do OK. She is very resilent. I have heard several different spins and interuptations of statements they made.Majority of older males(40+) think that a women is incapable of doing anything but taking care of babies is what I have been told.There comes a time when we have to use our heads about candidates. The grave condition that our country finds itself now needs someone with great qualifications. Qualifications, knowledge, experience come in to play in our head, ahead of visions and change with a good personality. How have I come to this conclusion, not by listening to the media, but by reading, watching the debates. Take notice of who is accountable for their actions. Hiliary is the best for this country at this space in time not Mr. Obama or the republicans .Media please state the facts not your opinions; plus not all negative facts, bring out the positives.

    January 28, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  22. WNC

    What a joke ...Obama got his feelings hurt by the Clintons.Now he has the Kennedys backing him.That tells me they have more garbage in their back yard to make him look really desperate for help!First thing that came to my mind ..was Bay Of The Pigs ..how JFK knew innocent people were killed.And they compare
    Obama to JFK ha ...I laugh.

    January 28, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  23. Prayu

    I would expect some kind of eventual apology for this, just like when Bob Johnson of BET made those disgusting remarks about Obama.

    It does not make Hillary look good. It does not make NOW look good. They'd better hurry up with some damage control.

    January 28, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. phyls esparza

    I do not trust Obama because he smirk, squints and does not know anything about running the USA...and now I do hate the Kennedys....JFK would never have endorsed a minor league player.......Teddy needs to take some swimming lessons!

    January 28, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  25. Amanda

    I am a woman and Hillary is my second choice. Obama is no choice. If he is the candidate chosen I will not vote.

    GO EDWARDS!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
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