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. Intelligent citizen

    Shame on you, Tedd Kennedy! Simply because Barack Hussein Obama has sleakingly pretended to imitate your late brother, you fell into this phony guy's trap and endorsed him instead of Hillary Clinton, a smart, intelligent, and dedicated public servant with proven track record of achieving results for the poeple and the country.

    Another reason may be that despite your rhetoric of supporting women you really can't accept them if you perceive them to be more intelligent and capable than your. Afterall, you have been a suspect in the death of a woman who you probably used as a toy anyway!

    Do you really think you have the power to change an election outcome? If you were so beloved by the American people, why could not you get the nomination for president when you ran yourself?

    You would have preserved whatever goodwill people had in you by staying at least neutral. You blew it. Everytime I see you on TV, I will spit on you from now on.

    January 28, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  2. Al, Los Angeles, CA

    Steve, chill. Obama is taking on 2 Clintons & holding his own. I think it will take a miracle for him to beat Hillary. But miracles do happen.

    This is payback for Billary not being a team player.

    And if you think McCain won't get slaughtered in a debate talking about supporting Iraq to the only guy who didn't support Iraq, you haven't been watching the poles.

    Rumor has it Obama will pick a woman running mate, the governor of Kansas, so Now take a pill.

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

    I now doubt Barack Obama's' "decision-making skills" when I see him happy and accepting the "OLD-SOT GOVERNMENT" we're trying so hard to get rid of!!!! Barack should NOT cozy-up with the old drunk and drugged old government; now I don't really trust him because NOW the old guys OWN HIM!!!!!!!!!!!! I just don't like the SMELL!!!!! How sad that he doesn't SEE THAT THAT OLD GOVERNMENT HASN'T GOTTEN ANYTHING ACCOMPLISHED IN OVER 40 YEARS AND NOW THEY HAVE "SNARED" THIS ONLY CHANCE WE HAVE AND HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW IT; THAT'S HOW BAD THAT OLD GOVERNMENT IS! Here we go again!

    January 28, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  4. CosmoNYC

    It's a sad state of affairs when an advocacy group blasts a party leader for simply endorsing a rival candidate. NOW has a right to fight for equality and women's rights, but reacting in this way simply demeans their overall goal. Should Senator Kennedy endorse Hillary solely because she’s a woman and he should support the possibility of a women being President? Senator Clinton, and Obama for that matter, should prefer to be chosen on their merits as candidates, not the fact that they need support as part of a cause.

    January 28, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  5. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    Steve, Lyons, CO

    Maybe it's not that were less scared of a "black male" than a "white woman".

    Maybe its just that one inspires us while the antics of the other depresses us.

    Obama '08

    January 28, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  6. Jason Adams

    I'm not sure "slams" is the right word here in the headline. Perhaps if it were "Women's group ineffectually smacks at Kennedy, misses, looks ridiculous doing so", that would be more accurate.

    January 28, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  7. EJP

    Perhaps the most telling line in the NOW statement is the part about Kennedy being one of those " men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton."

    It would appear that NOW isn't claiming that Kennedy would object to a woman president, but that he objects specifically to Hillary Clinton. That would seem to imply that it is not Hillary's gender that Kennedy finds troubling, but rather some other aspects of the candidate. Which renders the whole 'betrayal of women" angle fairly hollow, I think.

    My own gut feeling is that this feels more like the Clinton campaign getting some surrogate to lash out at Kennedy, making overheated and exaggereated criticisms that the campaign (and Hillary herself) might feel, but that they don't want to voice directly. This way, the campaign and the candidate can publicly downplay the importance of the endorsement, while still playing the gender card. Somehow, even though the statement comes from NOW, it is so consistent with the mean personal politics that the Clintons have always specialized in that it's hard to conclude it's anything but thinly-veiled attack directly orchestrated by Mrs. and Mr. Clinton.

    This kind of personal vitriol is the reason I find it so hard to support Hillary, even though I desperately want a Democrat to win the White House..

    January 28, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  8. mike

    I've lost my respect for NOW. Talk about sexists.

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

    Who cares?

    January 28, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  10. blindman

    when i look at obama i dont see a black man, i see a canidate for president. the same with clinton i dont see a white female, i see a canidate for president period.
    i will judge them on the issue and who i think will move our country in the right
    direction not for just females or blacks but for the whole nation. that is what should
    be inportant to all americans, and i feel as if the media does more harm then good
    when they keep this type of reporting in the lime light.

    January 28, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  11. Dave

    NOW has accomplished in one ill-advised. mindless press release what the Republican propaganda machine couldn't accomplish in a whole year if they tried: They proved themselves to be radical, irrational zealots and single-issue one-note lobbyists who care about getting a woman elected at the exclusion of any other considerations.

    January 28, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  12. gyates

    how obsurd of NOW...give me a break...are they arrogantly suggesting that because hillary is a woman, she deserves to be president and deserves women's votes...give me a break....i am not an admirer of kenney...in fact i can't imagine anyone less qualified to endorse a candidate and obama would be wise is avoiding in close connections with kenney unless, of course, he is an ultra liberal like kennedy...nonetheless, his choice to endorse obama isn't any more distasteful that the NOW organization's choice to endorse clinton because she is a woman...give be a break..!!!

    January 28, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  13. Ginny CA

    It doesn't matter to me that 3 Kennedys endorsed Obama and 3 Kennedys endorsed Hillary. It doesn't make any difference how one angry NOW state organization reacted. I have been watching, reading, listening and following all the Democratic candidates. For me, Hillary is by far the one who is best suited for the presidency. She is experienced, cares about the same issues I do, has specific plans for implementing the programs we need to get our country back on track, and is a proven dedicated, hard-worker on behalf of the people. I will not let anyone's endorsement nor biased-press coverage change my mind.
    God's speed, Hillary!

    January 28, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  14. Donnamaie E. White

    Send no spam

    I am furious with Ted Kennedy – old white man doing anything to prevent a woman from being in power – I have no respect for what he's done in the past – the present is what counts. He blew it!

    January 28, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  15. Leslie

    I can't believe the NOW organization has ranted this cause the way they have. How dare you even suggest that we vote for Hillary just because she is a woman. I am a woman and disagree with you. You might want to thank yourselves for the message you just sent out. NOW it is going to make it even harder for Hillary to gain more support. If I were on the fence you just pushed me to Obama's side!Thank yourselves for losing Hillary some votes!

    January 28, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  16. Wayne

    I have often said that this "Hillary Hatred" went beyond the rational, it's almost pathological with some people. And it sadly says a lot about how we view women in positions of power. But I am still hopeful that an experienced candidate will win out over an inexperienced one in the end. But people need to start holding the media accountable for it's obvious gender bias.

    January 28, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  17. Lenise

    Why would any one vote for Obama? He has very little experience, and half of his record does not look to good. I think if he is nominated we are in big trouble!!! Yes, he is a real good talker, and people believe what he says. I don't see how he unit's people. They just feel sorry for him, because the Clinton's where on him like hot a potato!! If he can't take the heat he needs to get out now!!!! How strong of a president will he be? Any one of the republicans that are nominated will chew him up!! I just think people need to take a good look at the candidate's records and choose!! People feel sorry for him thats all!!

    January 28, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. Jules

    As a woman I am offendedby the irrational, emotional reaction of this NOW chapter.Kennedy's endorsement did no discredit to women, but this tirade surely did. They set the whole concept of gender equality back decades when they suggest his support was motivated by the fact she is a woman. I guess my thinking is too progressive for NOW since that thought never crossed my mind. I see tem as two fine candidates. I wonder what is means that NOW sees them a first as a woman versus a man? I may have to revoke my membership.

    January 28, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  19. Ditto

    Hillary Clinton – the first woman president? No way! Her campaign is saying that now! She cannot stand without Bill Clinton. She will just be her puppet. So much for being the first female president!

    January 28, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  20. MM

    Okay, so I'm FOR Hilary NOT because she's a woman but because I respect her experience and think she can win –even if she is a woman. Voting for a candidate just to insure your party is going to win shouldn't be the case.

    Anyone knows that either Obama or Clinton would be a GREAT CHANGE of pace if they win and their chances are very good.

    Now that we've been examining the Race question for the past week in all the media articles, the Gender issue is now raised. Hope folks will finally take responsibility for how racist and gender biased society is here in the U.S.A. Now that would be an excellent CHANGE of pace...

    January 28, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  21. Ryne Roseberry

    Kennedy's endorsement is not what is hurting women in this incident. Instead, it is the backlash these women are making at him. The National Organization for Women however is making women around the contry look ignorant for wanting to vote for Hillary just because she is a woman. If you are truly about equality please do not vote for a person because of their sex/color but instead for who will do the most for this country.

    January 28, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  22. Troy

    Anyone but Obama! ! ! Kennedy's are irrelevant these days. Go HIllary!!!!

    January 28, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  23. oh please

    Give us a break!

    I've been a feminist since the 60's, but this kind of whining gives it a bad name.
    Supporting a candidate other than Hillary does not make someone anti-women.

    Using your logic, Kathleen Kennedy is a racist for not supporting Obama, and I'm certain that's not the case.

    Get a grip, get a clue, get over it.

    January 28, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  24. lisa, ohio

    I am a proud women and my vote will go to obama

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

    Unbelivable! Is the NOW-NY group so desperate that they have lost all reason? It seems they would strip Sen. Kennedy of his right to his own opinion! I am also a woman–50+. I fully intend to vote for Barack Obama. I hate the political scenes set up by Hillary and Bill...doesn't seem like they're interested in change to me...sounds like two typical politicians!
    Obama is the first candidate in a long, long time whose ideas inspire me. They have rekindled my patriotism. I truly understand the comparison Caroline made between her father and Barack Obama. I also see the similarity. Obama is trying to promote unity in our country...remember, we are supposed to be the "United States of America." Seems that NOW-NY is not interested in unity so much as conformity to their own opinions.

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