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. Chuck, Miami Fl

    Ouch, women make up 60% of the Democratic vote. All she needs is half of that and its over.

    January 28, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  2. L B

    NOW's reaction reminds me of the saying:
    "Hell has no fury like a woman scorned"

    January 28, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. Ed Swanson

    To claim that anyone, and in particular Senator Kennedy, has shown disrespect for women by supporting Senator Barack Obama is absurd. Does an African American show disrespect for black people if he or she chooses to support Hilary Clinton or Jonathan Edwards? Of course not. The Democratic party is blessed with three progressive candidates for President, and a person's choice should not be influenced by race or gender, notwithstanding the NY chapter of NOW. Senator Kennedy was careful to point out his enthusiasm for Senators Clinton and Edwards should either of them receive the Democratic nomination. The NY chapter of NOW should be ashamed of itself to suggest that a woman should be supported simply because she is a woman.

    January 28, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. Obama '08

    How patheitc for NOW for making that suggestion!!! It's small mined and crap!! Stop your cyrying and go change your tampon NOW. Kennedy pick Obama because he is well qualify from day 1 not because he's a man. Kennedy didnt pick Hilary it's because she a status quo and a typical politician that we see in the past.. Looking back the past and marching to the future is what obama stand for. It's the past versus the future and Bill and Hilary Cliton is the past!!!!!

    You suck for making a stupid complain NOW, maybe it's that time of the month for you NOW

    January 28, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  5. Buzz

    These feminine groups have always acted like a bunch of silly fanatics to me. I just ignore them.

    January 28, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. victoria philleo

    oh for heaven's sake-i am female and i think you should get over it --the right person for the right job--regardless of gender

    January 28, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  7. Che, Louisville

    Gender and race. Let's not make these complex issues of identity the only lens through which we are viewing the political landscape. There's a war going on right here, right now. Which side are you on? Those who want to drag us backwards into the future or those who seek a new direction with new leadership?

    NOW-NY is wedded more to a symbol than they are committed to women's rights. Hillary does not represent all women any more than Barack represents all African Americans. The issues of gender and race will not be resolved with this election. But the direction of the country will be decided. I'm voting for progressive new leadership. I'm voting for the end of our long national nightmare (the current one).

    Hit jobs like the NOW-NY's attack on Ted Kennedy only strengthen my support for Obama 08.

    January 28, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. Hope

    This was alittle extreme. Of course you shouldn't vote for Clinton because she is a woman. But come on the truth of the matter is that Edward Kennedy doesn't like strong women. That is how he was raised. Anyways Edward Kennedy is yesterday news. Funny isn't that what Obama is steering from out with the old and in with the new? Clinton is the best. And, Kennedy and whoever else can endorse Obama. It isn't going to change anything. The people who are behind Clinton are in for the long haul. If the Kennedys think this will sway other minorities from Clinton they are wrong. Afterall the Kennedys haven't done much for minorities. Right? how does that sound. Are we suppose to have selected memory.

    January 28, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  9. Necia


    He is directly responsible for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, he let her drown. He was cheating on his wife with the poor girl. He let his wife down. They were women. Knock, Knock? Are you home?

    Letting someone die is the "ultimate betrayal".

    What the hell did you expect?

    January 28, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  10. Allen

    I think they need to stop whining and get back in the kitchen!

    January 28, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  11. CS

    Funny–I was thinking the same thing earlier today. Elderly male Catholics are not raised to think of women as equals. Robert Kennedy's oldest DAUGHTER supports Hillary. Interesting.

    January 28, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  12. KimSC

    This is so funny I can't stop laughing. First off Ted Kennedy is NOT an endorsement I would like to see Hillary get BECAUSE she is a woman I would be highly upset and have to take another look at her if she did. So not sure if NOW is really in touch with women at all.

    Ted Kennedy allowed Mary Jo to drown without calling for help, that is unforgivable. He showed that he had no respect for women by cheating on his wife and letting his lover drown. Is that really the support any WOMAN would want?

    I take supporting Hillary as a candidate seriously, great if Ted wants to support Obama, I feel his support for him only helps Hillary. Why on earth would NOW think she needed that kind of support is beyond me and they need to get a grip. The Republicans were dancing on the table tops when Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama today and don't think for a second it won't be used against him.

    NOW-NY needs to get a clue.....GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. Ashley

    As a woman I find NOW's charge ridiculus. Hillary Clinton, in my opinion, is not the best choice for Democratic nominee. To suggest that backing Sen. Barack Obama, who has more experience as an elected official dispute claims by the Clinton campaign, is tantamount to disrespecting women's rights is absurd and a logical fallicay. As a women I am against Hillary Clinton as the nominee despite the prospect of a possible female president. Ridiculus charges like this are one of many things wrong with politics and interest groups.

    January 28, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  14. Dido

    I think these people at NOW have lost their mind, they want the Kennedys to endorse Clinton because she is a woman. How ludicrous is that. Their comments contradict what the organisation is about; I thought the organisation's aim is to ensure that women get equal treatment as men.
    It is obvious that Hillary Clinton is not qualified, not capable, and lacks the ability to unite and lead this country forward. They talk about being treated equally, yet she cried to win New Hampshire. She rely on her husband for every thing. Hillary doesn't want to be treated equally, she want to cut corners, beg, and cry for vote. What she is doing is bringing your organisation and women down. There are better qualified women in this country to be president, but not Hillary.
    Next time you people at NOW want to say something, please for the sake of all the wonderful women out there, say something meaningful.

    January 28, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  15. Melanie

    It's alright for people to say : a white person is voting for a black man to prove he is not racist, but when you do not vote for a woman, you are sexist......

    Something tells me everyone knows the Clinton campaign is threatened by Obama.

    Obama '08!

    January 28, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. Amy, Arizona

    I'm floored. Let me get this right. Is NOW implicitly also saying that Caroline Kennedy is not a "REAL" woman because she doesn't happen to agree with these communists?

    My God. I thought what we saw the past 4 weeks was unreal. This takes the cake. I've never seen anything so callous and

    Is this what we're going to get from a Hillary Clinton candidacy in the General Election and from the "first Woman President"?

    NOW probably doesn't care but they just outraged a nation of women who believe they can think for themselves and that they don't need some Nazis in Manhattan telling them how their brain should work.

    January 28, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  17. Terri

    As a lifelong feminist and the daughter of feminists (yes, men can be feminists, too! I'm married to one!) and a longtime member of NOW, I am saddened that one chapter would make such a statement. A vote for Senator Clinton should be based on one's opinion of her policies and her beliefs. I am glad that this statement is not from the National NOW organization, but a single chapter.

    I am also sad to see that this race has come down to race and gender instead of ideas and beliefs. I would hope that while the media is focusing on this kind of distraction, the American voters are ignoring the foolishness and instead focusing on the actual issues that face all Americans.

    January 28, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. Liz TN

    Could it be that Ted Kennedy thinks he can control Obama...

    January 28, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  19. Lily

    NOW...now, listen! I'm white woman and NOT going to vote for Hillary just because she's a woman. For democracy's sake, I totally agreed and supported the Kennedys for endorsing Obama. OMG..I can't believe that NOW is so single minded. Perhaps NOW and Billary should run a CRY ME A RIVER CAMPAIGNs for the Super Tuesday..LOL

    OBAMA 08

    January 28, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  20. joe

    Welcome to politics - and all press, Kennedy's, pundits, candidates, and bloggers are only out for one thing....themselves.

    No, Kennedy does not think Obama is the stronger candidate - he himself would just benefit the most from Obama being president.

    No, Obama is not the "pure" "innocent" "victim" he portrays himself to be who can "change" the world - in his words "answering the call" from God. (help me please).

    Yes, this country is misogynist more than racist - including press, politicians and voters male and female alike.

    Get a life losers - if Obama were a woman no one would know her name - or give a crap. And if you can't admit to that - you are in denial or stupid.

    By the way CNN - you disgust me with your partisan reporting more than any ridiculous endorsement. What happened to you? If I wanted partisan, misogynistic crap - I can get it at MSNBC. Why have you crossed the line? You don't disappoint me, you disgust me.

    January 28, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  21. Candice

    You can't vote for someone based solely on gender. Hillary Clinton is a deceitful and morally reprehensible. To vote for her and perpetuate this Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton cycle would be an ignorant move. Ted Kennedy isn't endorsing her because she isn't the best candidate. This has absolutely nothing to do with Title IX. NOW is not the time for a woman because right NOW we have a horrible female candidate.

    January 28, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  22. Steve, Lyons, CO

    Succinct and to the point. Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Let me add: Kerry et al are pulling a Dean-in-Iowa destructo on a major candidate. Here we go again.

    Maybe this is progress? I'm not sure: some are less scared of a black male than a white woman. Says something. Not sure what.

    If Obama ends up taking it, he'd better bone up on foreign affairs (whoa, could a McCain skin him alive in a debate on same? It'd be ugly.) and lose some of that "destiny" arrogance. Before you bother scooping up Republicans, Obama, better show you can take care of *your* Democratic party supporters.

    The Democratic party has done nothing for me lately, wimping out like tittering schoolchildren before the mighty (?) Bush as if anyone actually respects him, as if this traitor and criminal deserves any respect, or any weight given to any of his "demands" for legislation that screws American taxpayers not rich and corporate.

    The calculating and politically shrewd far-right wing of the Republicans has been running our country like a totalitarian state.

    At this moment, I welcome moderate Republicans. If you pander to the right wing, you're a loser, Obama. The hell with them, OK, Uniter?

    January 28, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  23. Hillary 08

    Thank you NOW!
    Thank you for pointing out the sexism in this campaign.
    I can find media supporting the White man and the Black man.
    If I want to see support for the woman I have to go to her website.

    January 28, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  24. Cathy, NY

    GO HILLARY************NEW YORK LOVES YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  25. Western New York

    I invite all of you to come to Western New York and see the job Hillary is doing. We are loosing more and more jobs and businesses, the unemployment rate keeps going up, healthcare is a mess and the taxes are the highest in the country. She made all kinds of promises to help our area and we are not any better than the day she came in to office, maybe worse. Maybe that is the reason the Kennedys indorsed Obama.

    January 28, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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