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. John (PA)

    I can't believe this group would have any sort of integrity after releasing a statement like this. Accusing someone of being sexist for not supporting Clinton would be the same as accusing them of being racist for not supporting Obama.

    Maybe this group is actually a bunch a white supremacists because they support Clinton over Obama? (that is sarcasm if you can't tell).

    This race and gender stuff is a stupid distraction from the actual issues.

    January 28, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Jake

    This article was completely unnecessary and continues to show the bias CNN shows toward Hillary Clinton. Many groups are opposed to certain individuals endorsing candidates, so why now choose to run a story on it? All of the Democratic candidates are qualified individuals, and it's unfortunate individuals and groups coninuously bring in gender and race. Just because one supports Obama does not mean they are anti-women, and on the contrary just because someone supports Clinton does not mean they are anti-black. This article is useless and ignorant.

    January 28, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Chris

    Can't please everyone...

    January 28, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  4. Ben

    As a man, raised by my mother, married with two daughters, and determined to advocate for intelligent women to be given their due and fair respect , I for one wish women would wake up and come together to finally break and shatter this barrier and mindset in America that continues to place unintelligent and unqualified but charismatic male personalities over deserving hard working women.

    It's almost like Harriet Tubman said, "I saved a lot of slaves from slavery. I could have saved more had they known that they were in Slavery."

    Come on women! Speak up, speak out , siege this opportunity! If not for yourself, do it for the future generation!

    January 28, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  5. LakeShore

    Someone's having PMS today...

    January 28, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Dave, Atlanta, GA

    That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That's like if Jesse Jackson argued that anyone doesn't support Barack Obama must be racist.

    January 28, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  7. Rafi, NY NY

    To the actual statement, though... How totally, completely, infuriatingly absurd that NOW-NY claims the only reason Kennedy picked Obama is because he can't handle a woman being president.

    Newsflash, you morons... There are many, many women who would make a better president than Hillary Clinton. They're unfortunately not running.

    January 28, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  8. Info


    January 28, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. Marcus Williams

    Doesn't each person have the right to back who THEY want? It is not a vote against women's rights just because someone endorses a male – it IS however, a vote against that particular candidate. Perhaps the New York Chapter of NOW should consider THAT before launching into accusations of sexual discrimination – we, as the ordinary voter in this country, should be voting for whatever candidate we believe in, irrespective of whether they are a woman, an African American, or not.

    January 28, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. Andy, New York, New York

    Why, if the national body endorsed Hillary, did the NY chapter go off on this tangent against Teddy?

    Is the NY chapter afraid Teddy's influence will sway White New Yorkers?

    To me, a Black New Yorker and Republican, Teddy's endorsement has nothing to do with gender or even race. But it is obvious that the NOW NY chapter is so gender biased it fails to recognize it is openly slapping Obama in the face.

    Obama is candidate, just like Hillary. He's Black and She's female; both firsts. So how come her gender takes precendence over his race?

    The National Organization of Men needs to put out a statement to counter the folly of the NOW's NY chapter.

    Man, I tell you, poor Obama can't get any rest; be it from the gender interests or the race interests.

    January 28, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  11. Jerry, Troy NY

    Is it not more likely that Kennedy just thinks that Obama would be the better president? That is what I think. It appears Caroline Kennedy is of the same mind set.

    Does NOW expect us to vote for her just because she is a woman?

    January 28, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  12. Sam (Belleville, MI)

    Of course, Sen. Kennedy must think that because Hillary is a woman, she can't be President. It clearly is impossible that he simply feels that Obama is better suited to lead the country.

    Why must EVERYTHING be about race or gender? Why can't someone – anyone – support whomever they want because they feel they are the best choice?

    I am supporting Obama in the primaries, and then I will support the eventual Democratic nominee. I am doing that because I feel Obama is the best choice among the Democrats, and because I feel the Democrats are the best choice among the parties.

    Why does NOW have to reduce this to gender?

    January 28, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  13. Chris

    These women should just shut up, get back in the kitchen and make their husbands some dinner. Give them jobs and the right to vote and they get all uppity...that'll teach us!

    January 28, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  14. Kelly

    As a woman who would happily vote for a woman president, - especially a democrat, I find this attack on Kennedy extremely offensive. Reading the article it sounds like NOW is gender-blind. It doesn't matter what she stands for, how she (and her co-president husband) conducts herself. All that matters is that she's a woman! And where would she be without said husband? If it were a woman who could truly run on her own merit that would be a different story. Give me a break.

    January 28, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. Jayhawk34

    WOW! I almost forgot gender matters? No I didn't, because any logical person doesn't base a presidential candidate on GENDER! Please save the Title XI talk, unless thats going to save the economy???????????

    I'll give whomever the speaker of this article is the benefit of the doubt and will not stereotype women to be as naive as this one.

    P.S. I do love how she bashed him with all her ammo at once. But of course, if he did end up endorsing a woman in this particular case, he would've been the most legitimate person on Earth!

    January 28, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  16. paul

    This sounds a lot like Bill Clinton slamming John Kerry for supporting Obama: "I did everything he asked me to do in 2004."

    In other words, the Presidential election is not about choosing the best leader for our country, it's about quid pro quo and who's turn it is.

    January 28, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  17. Mirta

    Ha! What is it they say about a woman scorned???

    Now, let's see how long it takes for the media going to attack NOW because they are picking on Teddy. Here is comes...

    I am not a member of NOW, but I am very unhappy about the Kennedy endorsement of Obama.

    January 28, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  18. Sean

    Being a guy, I'm not sure I get it.
    Is the NY-NOW organization suggesting that this is race about gender politics?

    This is as bad as Bill Clinton comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson.

    Can't we just see these patriots as people?
    Especially as people with some very different views of how to run this country?

    I'm disappointed in NY-NOW's emotional outcry that they "feel betrayed" on the grounds that they would rather Sen. Edwards support Mrs. Clinton because she is a woman.

    January 28, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. Umm

    So because he endorses someone else they decide to chastise him? I highly doubt that his decision was based on him being a man. Why don't they endorse Obama? because he is a male? Wouldn't that be sexist? Let individuals make their own decision's because in the end it was his choice. It really irks me that a group would come out and call someone's decision wrong all because they supported him and he didn't go with their wishes ugh

    January 28, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  20. R.Y.

    I am a woman, and I want a woman president.... But just because I would love to see a woman president does not mean that I have to want Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton doesn't do it for me. I am not going to just blindly support her because she is a woman and neither should any other woman. Just like an African American should not blindly support Obama. If everything was equal, I would choose a woman over an African American. But it isn't equal. Clinton could not possibly inspire and bring up the spirits of our nation as Obama can. I do not know what it is, I don't have a word that can describe what "it" is. But he has "it"... This magic charisma that makes you believe him and inspire to not only dream or hope but even act on it... This nation needs to heal from the current administration and all the division that we faced. I believe Obama is the best one for that job... NOW should be ashamed of itself... It shouldn't just want an endorsement based on having a woman as president, it should want one based on merit.... Before, any Kennedy endorsed Obama, I felt like Obama was a reincarnate of JFK or RFK... I didn't relate him to MLK but to those men... and the Kennedy clam who endored him today confirmed to me that what I saw was not a mirage.

    January 28, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. Marie

    I emailed him regarding my dissapointment. Regardless that she is a woman, she is the MOST qualified candidate and most likely candidate to be elected in a general election. We do not need another Republican in office!
    All Clinton supporters should do the same. Hillary 08

    January 28, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  22. Dan

    It's not the idea of a woman president that bothers so many people, including myself. Rather, it's the thought of Hillary Clinton being that woman. I wonder when people will realize that for many, IT IS NOT A SEXIST THING!!!

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  23. Marge Hibbing Mn

    I agree. I think it is time the women of this country come together and take their money and put it into organizations and websites that support women. It is a shame that thru all Kennedy the women have stood beside him. they took up for him when he had his famous accident. Now he stabs them in the back. I suppose he really is too old to be in the senate and I hope us women make sure that is true.

    obama stood on a platform and said kennedy was too old to be in politics and should resign. And then the butt hole endorses him. SEE WHAT MEN DO. COME ON WOMEN GIVE EM WHAT FOR.

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  24. Murry

    I am a woman and I am voting for Barack Obama.
    As much as I would love to have a woman in the White House, Hillary is NOT that woman. A woman who takes credit for her husband's work and who sends her husband out to fight the nasty fights does not deserve to be a role model for young women. A woman who has been running such a nasty campaign does not deserve to be our leader.
    Women everywhere need to vote for a better person.
    Vote Obama 08!

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. Sandy Bressler

    You know what great instincts Senator Kennedy has had in the past!

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
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