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. Feminist for Obama

    How ridiculous...do they really want a female president so bad that they don't care what's best for the country? Does anyone really think that the endorsement had anything to do with gender? They are giving feminists a bad name.

    January 28, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  2. Howard Roark

    Hillary is politics as usual–she doesn't go for coffee without polling first to see where she should go. Obama is different and inspiring. It's a simple as that.

    January 28, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  3. Christopher

    To Scott ("Umm. check out the sign in the background: "59, white, female proud 2 B 4 Obama" Perfect.")

    I hadn't seen that sign until you pointed it out! That's hilarious and exactly in the face of NOW's position. How funny.

    January 28, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. Janet

    Betrayal is as good a word as any, however, I would prefer to call it what it is, a clear sexist statement to the women of this country that women have always been and will always be the true minority in this country and slowly but surely all the men who have had a hidden agenda of tolerating women in power will all be unmasked one by one!!!!!!!!! When Hillary Clinton becomes President of the United in the 2008 election, only than can women truly begin to work on true equal rights!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. J

    CNN ...and the many talking "empty" heads ....STOP the premature corination of Barak Obama. And STOP marginalizing Hillary Clinton just because she is a woman. Obama is not competing for American Idol but rather someone trying to be our president. Why don't you start asking him real questions about issues and put to bed the press frenzy race issue. Next January, we will have suffered with 8 year of incompetience in the White House. I don't want the next President learning the job and singing kum-by-ah in the Oval Office. I want a competent and experience person serving and leading us. Hillary Clinton is that candidate.

    January 28, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. Rico

    As a caucasian, I feel betrayed that Ted Kennedy endorsed a Black candidate. Ridiculous? No more so than NOW-NY's proclamation; by their logic, people should vote exclusively on tribal lines (only veterans and seniors for McCain, Mormons for Romney, folks with perfect hair for Edwards and mean-spirited paranoiacs for Giuliani).

    Has NOW been relevant since 1979?

    January 28, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  7. lara

    how can people believe that an inexperinced guy is the best candidate? you know what, the democrats deserve to lose the presidency...i'd rather have mccain in power than a neophyte w/good rhetorical skills and no clue...

    January 28, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  8. L B

    "Hell has no fury like a woman scorned"

    January 28, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  9. Evan Tribley Columbus, OH

    This is total and absolute nonsense. This will likely backfire for NOW and its reputation. A betrayal based SOLELY on gender? This is asinine.

    January 28, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  10. ObamaGuy

    This is stupid. If Hillary wins the nomination I will grit my teeth and vote for her. If Obama wins the nomination, I will grit my teeth and vote for him. Either one of them represents my ideals imperfectly, but better than W, Romney, McCain, or any other Repub. But if apparently voting for Obama that makes me an evil sexist? To suggest that is slightly less intelligent than suggesting that if I vote for Billary I am a rascist. Don't get me wrong I think if we elected either a black or a woman as president that would be a huge step for this country. But to suggest that voting for Obama equates to voting against women's rights? Knock it off, NOW!

    January 28, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. BW, College Station, TX


    January 28, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. jp/michigan

    Race and gender should not play into who you vote for. Vote for the most experienced, look at their voting record and check out their political platform. Not who is endorsing them. That is why I am voting for Hillary Clinton.

    January 28, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. Mary

    While I don't like Senator Kennedy at all and am leary of Obama, the prospect of Senator Clinton being president frightens me. Just because she's a woman doesn't mean she'd make a good president.

    January 28, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  14. Ambros

    WAAAAAAAA (sniff, sniff)!!! It sounds like NOW has gotten their feathers ruffled because Sen. Kennedy might be a speed bump in their quest for Gender Superiority. Don't get it twisted, NOW is neither concerned with Gender Equality, ERA or what's best for this country. Hillary is their implant if elected. They already have the biased family courts sewed up, all the way up to the Supreme Court. They have special laws reserved just for their protection(VAWA), to the exclusion of males and families. There is nothing that can be done to satisfy their lust for power. Just shut up and be happy for once! Stop playing the victim card for your country's sake.

    January 28, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  15. anthony

    These women need to get a life. To support Hillary just because shes a woman is totally ridiculous and outrageous. I hope that they were very supportive of her when Bill was having all thise extramarital affairs. I can bet you they didnt. Maybe they need to take their case to Bill and tell him to shut his big mouth.

    January 28, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  16. Sara in CA

    Hey, I resent this from NOW. I am a STOLID feminist and refuse to vote for someone simply because they happen to be a woman. A feminist is a woman who is liberated enough to make her own adult decisions, thank you very much. My very adult decision is that HRC is not an attractive candidate to me for a variety of reasons, one of which is her overreliance on a dominant husband. I have a dozen reasons why I am voting for Obama, but none of them involve the limited boxes of race and gender that continue to offend many feminists who feel pressured to adhere to some collaborative agenda that causes generalizations over reason, to support the views of someone like Judith Butler, or better yet, myself as a fierce woman.

    January 28, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  17. Miles





    January 28, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  18. New Democrat

    I'm a woman - and am ready for a woman to be president...just NOT Hillary Clinton. Kennedy supported the right candidate today!

    Obama 08!

    January 28, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  19. Lisa

    As a woman, I resent the fact that NOW seems to think that we should all vote for Hillary simply BECAUSE she's a woman.

    As a New Yorker, I voted for her (twice) for Senator but not because of her gender or her last name but because I thought she was the best person on the ballot for the job.

    However, as an American, I'm just not convinced that she's the right person for THIS job. And I won't be bullied into voting for her just because we share the same number of X chromosomes.

    I'm infuriated that NOW has fueled the fire by turning Senator Kennedy's support for Obama into "a larger representation of society’s ongoing disrespect for women's rights." OH Please! What planet are they on?

    January 28, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  20. anna

    How could any one take Ted Kennedy seriously? He has never said anything of value and he never will. His endorsement should be looked positive for the other side.

    January 28, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  21. Joyce Hart

    When are we going to get over racism and sexism? The NOW's statement is as sexist as any misogynist statement I've ever heard.

    January 28, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  22. bekah

    How is it betraying women? I think it would be a greater betrayal to just vote for someone based on race/gender. How churlish to think that anyone could accuse Kennedy (Ted or Caroline) of not choosing Hillary because she is a woman. It would be a far greater tragedy to forgo choosing the candidate who best supports your vision of the country and a betrayal to the ideals of Jack Kennedy.
    Clearly, Hillary is not bringing the excitement or hope for the future that Obama has brung not only to the Democrats, but to the American public as a whole. People are tired of the polarizing politics that Hillary is a part of. To use the scapegoat, that he based his decision purely on gender is not even worth a response.
    Perhaps NOW is as out of touch with its constituency as Hillary is with her constituency. I can see little as to how they will further any rights for women (myself a 28 yr old woman) with such a narrow viewpoint... Next will they suggest that Caroline Kennedy, a woman, is abandoning her womanhood, since she also supports Barack Obama?

    January 28, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  23. Eva

    I agree with the position taken by the NY Chapter of NOW. The Kennedy's only endorsed Obama after The Clinton's did not heed their advice to tone it done. Ted's endorsement of Obama, a newcomer, over Hillary is a retaliatory step – do as I say, or else.

    We hear repeatedly that this is not a contest of race. If race is brought up, its labeled as prejudice and we are admonished by the very media that makes exagerates and perpetuates ill will among the candidates . We are told that we should be color blind. Yet, I read postings on various sites throughout the internet, and listen to the media repeatedly make venomous, mysogynist comments about Hillary, without consequence. Maureen Dowd should be ashamed of herself. The way she speaks so venomously of Hillary and starry-eyed about Obama makes one wonder if she perhaps things she is competing with Hillary for Obama's attention. Shame on you, Maureen. Why is any of this okay? Are we a nation of mysogynists that is more comfortable with a man in power, whether he has the experience or capabilities, than with a highly qualified, intelligent woman. I think so. And, it saddens me greatly.

    NOW has given voice to thoughts, subconscious or otherwise, that many Americans refuse to. This contest for the highest elected office in our country is in fact about race, and about gender. Those refusing to acknowledge that are, at best, in denial.

    January 28, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  24. bbc

    If NOW had stepped up to the plate during Bills spree of womanizing and allegations of rape, they'd have a shred of credibility today. As it is, they are just irrelevant.

    January 28, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  25. darlene

    The Kennedy's endorsement makes no difference.
    That the Kennedy's can win votes for their candidate, is mistaken. The serious voters are looking at "issues," Not endorsements!
    American wallets! (issues!)
    The wasting of taxpayers money.
    Important issues for the next leader of our country to try and solve.

    January 28, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
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