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. tr88

    Steve, let me say McCain will welcome moderate democrats, but not the appeasing traitorous, blame America first, left wing moveon.org crazies

    January 28, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  2. stupid

    i'm a proud feminist and i am calling this out... picking a candidate just because she is a woman is just as bad as picking a candidate because he isn't a woman.

    i'm ashamed that NOW is taking two steps backwards and accusing kennedy of endorsing obama because he's a man. that's ridiculous. he endorsed him because he feels he is the best candidate for the job.

    this attitude has turned me off to the clinton campaign and made me a full blown obama supporter.

    clearly if obama or edwards was a woman NOW would've been happy to throw their endorsement that way too.

    January 28, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  3. Beans

    Where are Hellary and Bill hiding today? Drumming up an endorsement of their own? Let's see who it could be........

    NOW-NY, I'm appalled at YOU! What is your stand on all the women Bill Clinton raped and abused? Get off your high horse! Obviously your national chapter has better sense than you.

    Geez....get a life!

    January 28, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  4. Ned

    Yes, I think Senator Kenndy knows that Hillary is the best for the job. He just can not stand the sight of having a female for president. He knows Obama is not ready for this position. Obama can not talk about the issues. But we do know he plans to make some changes, we just do not know what they are.

    January 28, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. cdf

    As I Canadian watching this process I must say that I am heartened to see the above reactions to NOW's absurd statement regarding their 'betrayal'. It might just be possible that both democracy and rational political decision making are alive in America.

    Good Luck to you all

    Obama '08

    January 28, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. LeShawn

    LMAO! @ NOW. What a load. I guess I'm only voting for Obama because he is a man and a black man at that. Get real. I'm voting for Mr. Obama because he is the best candidate to make this country great again. I'm voting for Mr. Obama because he believes in this country and what we used to stand for. I'm voting for Mr. Obama because I believe Mr. Obama will pull our troops out of Iraq and put them in our streets to go to war with the street gangs (our own terrorist) and make our streets safer. I'm voting for Mr. Obama because I believe he will help our own country to be a great place again, rather than put our money into other nations. I can keep going on and on on why I'm voting gor Mr. Obama and not one time will I say it's because he is a man.

    January 28, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. Kisook

    As I consider myself as sucessful Asian american female and first generation immagrant, I fought for both being minority and female in last two decades.

    However, NOW is blinded by feminism over a more qualified candidate that our country desperately needs. It is shameful that an organiztion such as NOW has no understanding of the importantance of this election and what Barack Obama standa for. It has nothing to do with gender or race. It is about the future of this country.

    January 28, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  8. Obama08

    The fact that this is being already cited as a betrayal to women is of the long list of reasons why I would never vote for Hillary if she made it into the General Election; I would vote Republican first.

    And it has nothing to do with her being a woman. I would love a woman president, but if she's and her supporters are going to attack core members of the party, I will not vote for that kind of division politics.

    Vote Smart, Vote Obama.

    January 28, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. kathy

    This endosment has NOTHING to do with Ted, not wanting a women to be President. IT DOES have EVERYTHING to do with making sure we are placing the RIGHT person in the White House. I would advise all women to look at what kind of man Obama is, where he stands on womens rights and his long history of nothing but respect for women. After all, his whole life, he has been surrounded with very strong and intelligent women. It takes a certain kind of man, to be able to live with strong women. I know, because i am a strong women myself, and want Barack to lead this nation with pride, for all.

    January 28, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. PCN

    This is really a ridiculous statement. I guess everyone that does not support Hilary is now sexist. I wonder if NOW will endorse Laura Bush if she runs for president in
    4 or 8 years.

    January 28, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. Tricia

    There has been extensive CNN coverage of the fact that Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. Why is there not equal coverage of the fact that 3 of Bobby Kennedy's children have endorsed Hillary Clinton? Seems quite biased on CNN's part.

    My opinion – Ted Kennedy's motive is political and self-serving. I don't believe the children of Bobby Kennedy have the same motives for choosing Hillary, therefore, their endorsement means much more to me.

    January 28, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  12. Jonah, San Francisco

    Why must an endorsement of Obama be seen as resistance to a female President? Equality means being judged on one's merits. Criticisms or rebukes of Hillary's candidacy should not be instantly labeled as sexist.

    January 28, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  13. Don

    There is a world of difference between being a woman and being an old female. If you're born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the time she takes up and the space she occupies. Hillary Clinton is a woman. She has been there and done that and has still risen. She is in this race for the long haul. She intends to make a difference in our country. Hillary Clinton intends to help our country to be what it can become.

    She declares she wants to see more smiles in the family, more courtesies between men and women, more honesty in the marketplace. She is the prayer of every woman and man who longs for fair play, healthy families, good schools, and a balanced economy.

    Rise, Hillary.


    January 28, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  14. Joss

    Just because Obama isn't a woman doesn't mean he won't do anything for women's rights. It's incredibly sexist to say because Kennedy chose to support him over HIlary is a betrayal. This is what's wrong with our country right here and why we need Obama and his hope of unity.

    January 28, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  15. Matthew Melo

    It would only figure there would be outrage based on his support for a candidate. Had he endorsed Hillary the African American advocates would have called him racist. Had he endorsed Edwards he would have been both racist and sexist. You just can't win these days because everyone is such a big baby.

    January 28, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  16. Sue

    Hooray for NOW! Ted Kennedy has missed the mark this time! First, a great speaker does not a great president make. Secondly, he USED Barack to go on and on with his longstanding anger towards the Clintons. Third, I thought Barack was against the old ,established Washington politicians! There are no Washington politicians who are older or more established in the old ways than Ted Kennedy! I know, I have been a fan of Ted Kennedy's for years! And I agree, no one should vote for anyone just because of gender or race. It's just the this time he had a chance to endorse the best qualified PERSON ..and she also happens to be a woman! Shame on you Ted , I know you are a sailor, but ths time you really missed the boat!

    January 28, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  17. Murphy - Ft Lauderdale

    I really don't care personally about the Kennedy's endorsement – or that of any other celebrity. I support Hillary because of her position on what I consider to be the important issues for America and for myself.

    January 28, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  18. justobserve

    The new movement is for unity, not women vs men, black vs white... so the gender card or race card that Billary and their supporters are using only result in moving more people to support Obama. Billary can't win. Their act of co-presidency is against the democratic principle. Does anyone really believe they would listen to other people's opinion if they got the presidency? If Hill can't stand on her own feet, she is not the experienced candidate she claimed to be. Billary: it's time to let go.

    January 28, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  19. AL

    I guess NOW in New York means nominate only women. NOW should really do something about the leadership in it's NY chapter. I'm now with-holding my support of this group (though I've only actually heard of them once) and in the future I swear........... oh wait...... I actually never supported them....well.. ummm.. ok.... aaaahh.. THANKS TED!!! OBAMAH in 08!!!

    January 28, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. Jay B.

    Excuse me. Are NOW and their sister groups
    even relevant anymore?

    January 28, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  21. Cherish

    Excuse Ted Kennedy for following his best judgment and choosing what's right for the country over making a "payback" to an entirely unimportant organization.

    Boo-hoo, boo-hoo! Cry into your pink satin pillow tonight!

    Join the smart women in our fight for true change! Obama '08!!!

    January 28, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. Carla, Plano, TX

    Well that is the craziest thing I've heard in a long time; next to Mission Accomplished. As a woman I'm personally offended that NOW would believe that Hillary should be nominated because she is a woman and even more offended that they believe Kennedy did not support her because she was a woman. That completely discounts every good thing about Hillary and Obama.

    I started out an staunch Hillary supporter. But the last few weeks I'm being more swayed to the Obama camp. Not because I don't believe Hillary would make a good presidential candidate. But I believe should would be more of a divider than a uniter. And like most Americans, I'm tired of politicians trying to divide us. Obama is definitely a breath of fresh air. And he's made me a believer!!!!

    Obama 08!!

    January 28, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  23. Gemmeg

    God bless America. When americans will recognise that they have been blessing by God? when they will accept the genius Obama as the only man at the present time to change our planete.

    January 28, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  24. TammyNH

    Crying is not very lady like N.O.W., Endorse Hillary based upon what she can offer the country, Don't to a disservice to women by having a fit. Seems to me she can't offer much if you're only supporting her because of her gender.

    N.O.W. crying over this as if it's a real issue, would be like the AARP issuing a statement calling it betrayal as to why people aren't endorsing McCain.

    Get real .

    As a women: Obama 08, Vote Change!!


    January 28, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  25. scotty

    god you are all so stupid
    don't you know that this would just benefit goo old Ted
    not to mention he has always been a womanizer and oh let's not forget a big tea toddler
    I guess Obama does like that old political machine after all

    January 28, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84