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. Andrew, CA

    This is disgusting. Betrayal? Excuse me? Hillary is not running her campaign on her gender, which is something I respect her for. This statement goes against everything Hillary is presenting herself as.

    It's also a ridiculous idea that an endorsement for Obama "is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights." C'mon!

    January 28, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  2. joanna

    Most of the comments so far on this board are from long-time Clinton haters. They really don't care a crap who's running for president as long as is not a Clinton. This campaign is about race and gender; race has won in South Carolina so why can't gender ?

    January 28, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  3. ramno

    who cares about Women & NOW:) Ted doesn't .need women vote to win:)

    January 28, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  4. daschneider

    Hearing this news, as a man, I am now convinced that sufferage was a grievous error.

    January 28, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. Dan, Minneapolis, MN

    Joe I am in total agreement with your conclusions!

    January 28, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  6. Betsy

    I am amazed by how many of you people don't understand sexism and how it functions. Hillary Rodham Clinton is clearly and obviously the most outstanding candidate running for President and should be the obvious choice for the democratic nomination. Who the hell is this new guy who came from nowhere to get all these endorsements from the party establishment? It just blows my mind. There is a good ole boys' network, and you people are blind if you don't see that. They would be going with a candidate of Hillary's stature in any other case...except in the case that the candidate happens to be female. Excitement over Obama (i.e. new guy, nobody, but at least he's male) is just an excuse not to back a woman. I think the NOW chapter hit the nail right on the head. Hillary Rodham Clinton is outstanding and should get the nomination hands-down, no contest. It is an absurdity that Barack Obama is even being considered in my view.

    January 28, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  7. urs truly

    ok now i get it kennedy endorsed obama cause he`s a man or is it because hes white no wait a min. that could`ve been the case if he endorsed hillary.somebody cant handle it, can they????no we all know what NOW is all about. we need a uniter not the opposite.the fast people realise that it aint about race sex and all that the fast the us will be back on its feet. i endorse obama and yes am a male.

    January 28, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  8. Robert Bell

    You know, some women actually like men.

    Some white folks actually like black folks.

    And when picking a leader, gender and race should not matter.

    The NY-NOW is retrograde.

    January 28, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  9. Terry

    So we should vote for Hillary because she is a woman?? Hello?? I am a 44 year old woman and though I respect Hillary...I am voting for Obama. He is an extraordinary candidate. There has never been a stronger candidate in my adult life.

    January 28, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |

    Tony Rezko. Let's all ask Obama about Tony.

    Obama has skeletons people...dirty ones. Google this crook and see how Obama is connected to him. Clinton may have had her skeletons too...but we know about them already and she is an open book....I'd rather have a devil I know in office than one I dont...

    January 28, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  11. Porter

    You'd think cheating on his wife and killing a young woman would have cost him NOW's support a long time ago.

    January 28, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |

    Susan B. Anthony could not have said it better, herself........she would be proud...... Bravo! New York State Chapter of National Organization for Women. Get with the PROGRAM, National Chapter of National Organization for Women, it's 2008, already.........

    January 28, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  13. sam

    CNN don't be bias. Let Americans know that Hillary also has the support of 3 of the Kennedy family in your news. Please be fair.

    January 28, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  14. Janet

    As a woman I am appalled with the NOW organization. I would like to burn my card and withdraw my membership. Let's talk reverse discrimination. Why do we have to choose based on gender in either direction? What makes Hillary a bettter choice just BECAUSE she IS a woman? In my opinion she is not ready to lead the country and I wouldn't support her in an election now maybe never. As women we have been overlooked and treated with bias just because of our gender and now the very organization which was founded to make things better is suggesting we vote gender NOT our political position. I say shame on you

    January 28, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  15. Get it Right

    I am sadden by what the NY NOW chapter has said because this is a load of nothing. Way to go TEDDY. WE ARE FIRED UP AND READY TO GO ON DAY 1.

    OBAMA 08

    January 28, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  16. Mary

    Just because Kennedy supported someone other than Hillary Clinton is does not mean he does not support the rights of women. Has it ever occurred to these women that he may not agree with the ideas she is expressing throughout her campaign? Or maybe perhaps he believes a liar is not fit for presidency? I myself am a young woman enrolled in college and can gladly call myself a feminist. But, shouldn't a candidate be chosen for their specific beliefs not their gender? I know for sure I will NEVER vote for Hillary Clinton. Her fake tears will never win over my vote, and her husbands ranting is childish not to mention annoying.
    So, kudos to Sen. Kennedy for endorsing a candidate he believes in and is in agreement with! 🙂

    January 28, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. mrh

    Seems to me there's a good bit of immaturity, ignorance, and downright stupidity being displayed by members of NOW-NY. Thankfully, the national organization has distanced itself from the NY chapter.

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

    Isn't this exactly what Ted Kennedy referred to in his speech – demonizing people when they don't subscribe to the same ideas. NOW-NY has become like the Clintons. They are so shortsighted, discriminatory and divisive. They don't respect people who have a different ideas than theirs.

    And this is what attracted me to vote for Senator Obama. He acknowledges that we are different , he respects diversity and spouses the principle that we can agree to disagree agreeably. Ted and Caroline Kennedy have certainly seen that he will be the only one who can unite and heal this broken nation and restore our standing in the community of nations.

    Forward Obama! Our family is praying for you...

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

    Why is anyone trusting the Kennedy's secret rooms in the white house, Marilyn
    Monroe...... that poor girl that drowned on Teddy's watch.... They made chumps of the believers, including me, young Democrats for JFK.... talk about a Monarchy gone bad........

    It's enough to make a Democrat vote Republican and that is what is going to happen in the end. So sad –

    January 28, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  20. Sally, San Antonio, TX

    I was very disappointed in Ted Kennedy's decision to back Obama but even more disappointed that the media have not bothered to tell us that other Kennedy members, namely Bobby Kennedy, Jr. and others in that branch have endorsed Hillary. Is this media bias or what? Sure looks like it to me.

    January 28, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  21. Martin

    NOW needs to grow up!

    January 28, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  22. Maria, Miami

    NOW-NY, you may be helping your donations from brainwashed and hateful women but you're HARDLY helping the broader cause of women by making what may be the most inane and offensive statement yet in this primary season (and we've seen some crazy ones from the Republicans).

    January 28, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  23. Patrick

    Is NOW trying to sabotage Hillary now? I feel like there is something missing to this article. I would like to see a copy of NOW's transcript before I can make a judgement. No matter which way it spins out, this is biased reporting on a shenanigan.

    I have many mixed emotions about this ticker. I think this ticker offers too much spin. I truly enjoyed the light hearted posts, but posts like this one don't sit well with me.

    January 28, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  24. Ben

    NOW has inspired me, I'm realizing now my dislike for Hillary Clinton has to do with her being a woman. It has nothing to do with her being a two-faced political hack who'll break promises faster than a klepto can steal. I mean gee, I must be a woman hater despite all evidence to the contrary.

    Seriously though, come on! I'm absolutely SICK of all the racial and gender politics. Choose who you think is best for the job and that's it. If you're voting for someone strictly because they're a woman or black or for that matter a white male, you're a moron and you're what's wrong with this country.

    January 28, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |

    I am so upset with Ted Kennedy and i will not vote for Obama now even if he is the nominee!!! And John Kerry is an idiot!!! looks like the republicans will win this now!!!
    I would have expected someone like Ted Kennedy to stay neutral!!! I am so sick of the media protected Obama from all. Chris Mathews sucks!!! I no longer watch his show and CNN is getting just as bad on the attacks of Hillary!!! Tim Russet sucks as well!!! They so don't want a women as President and there reporting is so clear on there hatred!!! I hope Hillary wins!!! Men what would they do with out us great women!!!



    January 28, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
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