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. AmyS

    Please don't speak for this woman – I am whole-heartedly for Obama and I don't believe that Ted Kennedy is against women just because he supports Obama. That just shows me that he is for all Americans and a better future for us all!

    This "claim of betrayal" doesn't say much for a large women's organization...whining and trying to make everything about gender....you lose ground that way. Even if I wasn't for Obama, I don't feel that women have to vote for women just because there's a woman running – that's shallow!

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

    Regardless of who Kennedy is endorsing I find the following comment to be ignorant and somewhat racist:

    "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.’”

    So what NOW-NY is saying is basically that women general has had it worse than black people in general? Come on this is a ridiculous proposition.

    I'm ethnically Asian and I found this comment abhorrent of an entity that is supposed to represent equality for women or people in general.

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

    Just read what they had to say about this endorsement has left me with a disastrous headache. God, people are so sick, they can no longer think with their brain but rather do it with their intestines. It's very sad for people to be so retarded in this twenty first century. If I were those individuals I would never open my mouth for the rest of my life! I am a 34 white male, I cherish the desire of voting for a woman to be the first president of this great country but one who deserves it, not this one.........Her biggest weakness is the thirst of POWER! __Go shape your character and personality, that will take you 40 years, then, come back and you'll earn my vote!!

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


    Could it be that maybe America has moved beyond your line of thinking. Our current president not only was lacking in foreign ploicy experience...he was lacking in any experience other than being a c student who bought the presidency with family money.

    It is time for you to let go

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

    NOW has it all wrong. We should be voting for the best candidate – male or female. Ms Clinton's values are not my values. If she is the best that the females of this country have to offer, then NOW can expect many of us to support other candidates. MS. Clinton represents herself and the old politics of her husband. She does not speak for me. My vote goes elsewhere!

    January 28, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  6. sabrina V

    I agree that american society is much more misogynist than racist. Historically it has been true as well, which is evident in the fact that black men were given the right to vote before white women were.

    Although NOWs comments may come off as extreme, there is definitely truth to their claims.

    January 28, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  7. Kelly

    This is totally and ridiculously offensive! So just because I am a woman, I should automatically support one? I think if anything NOW is further supporting the idea of women as less intelligent as men....I mean obviously we must be if we pick a female candidate just because we are women, right? It's completely absurd. So am I now less of a woman because I support Obama over Clinton? Am I less of a feminist, am I less intelligent, and am I less independent for speaking my own mind and looking above gender? According to NOW I am. Seems to defeat the whole purpose of fighting for women's rights.

    January 28, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  8. Rich

    What if TWO women were running – would NOW implode under the pressure?

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

    This is typical sexist politics during a time that substance, platform and position to transend race, or gender. I myself started off in support of Sen Clinton not because of her being a woman but because of her positon and standing in the party. However the last three weeks of political wrangling by her and her husband the former president has really dimmed my view of her candidacy. This coupled with more and more exposure to Sen Obama has moved my position. Nothing to do with she being a woman or he being black. As one who served this great nation for over 22 years in the military, I have defended and respect Senator,s Kennedy,s right to support the candidate of his choice.

    January 28, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  10. E. C., Houston, Texas

    Sounds about right for Kennedy........

    January 28, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  11. Becca

    btw – robert kennedy jr. supports clinton. the clinton's would make it a lot easier to support them if they stopped being so sleazy, dishonest, and desperate for votes. get bill out of the campaign – i want to be able to vote for the candidate, not her husband. i don't want to see bill now or in the future – i want to see the candidate.

    i'm an independent and have voted dem in the past, but if comes down to obama or mccain – mccain's going to get my vote. it turns out already that all of the things obama has promised has been lies – he's no different than any other politician (e.g. rezko). hitler was a great speaker and motivator too, you know. come back in four or eight years when you know something and can back up your rhetoric.

    January 28, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  12. Zipo

    Ridicule has reached its paroxysm with this excessively sexist, feminist and ignominious mesage from an Insignificant minority of "NOW" frustrated women, who can't and won't handle the fundamental constitutional right of FREEDOM OF CHOICE. It is sad in this 21st century to noticed that there are still a bunch of women who are choosing to embrace their everlasting ignorance, and therefore, rejecting the achievement s of the Suffrage Movement. Alice Paul, Elizabeth Stanton, and Anthony Susan would have expressed their deep dismay and outrage if they were still alive. Once again, we wonder how LOW the Billarry Clintons will go, now that they are manipulating the NOW.... AT THE END OF THE DAY ONE THING IS SURE, A HUGE PORTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC ELECTORATE WILL BE FRUSTRATED by the BILLARRY CLINTON ever divisive politics, and will vote against them in the final race. Well Americans, expect the unexpected, another Republican president in November 2008.

    January 28, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  13. Matt

    What does NOW stand for? National Organization of Whiners? Come on already. I'm no fan of Ted Kennedy but I think he is entitled to make up his own mind and not be pressured into a endorsment because of Gender or Race. He picked the person he feels has the best shot at becoming the President. And I am sorry that is not Hillary Clinton.

    One in doubt play up the gender card and cry that things did not go your way. Talk about setting yourselves back a few decades. Good Job NOW.

    January 28, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  14. Phyllis

    I'm glad the national chapter of NOW is standing up for thoughtful choice, rather than lockstep identity. Pres. Gandy makes me proud, and I hope her words will give the New York chapter occasion to rethink their position.

    January 28, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    "can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president WHO IS HILARY CLINTON."

    January 28, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  16. Colleen

    Please do not lump me in with the statements that read: "NOW says exactly what every woman is thinking". Not every woman believes that Hilliary is the best choice. I was a big supporter of Mrs. Clinton and still believe that she's tremendously intelligent and hard working. However, she proved last week what I feared most--if she's elected, we'll have her out of control husband back in the White House. And though I voted for Bill both times that he ran, I believe that it's time to move on---no more devisive politics, and that's unfortunately what we'd get with another Clinton in the White House. Obama is the face that the world needs to see representing us---not Bill Clinton (and that's what you'll get if Hilliary is elected).

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

    Indicted Obama Fundraiser's Bond Revoked

    January 28, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  18. Alexa

    The comments by this representative of the New York Chapter of NOW are just feeling and not facts.

    However since they want to talk about feelings...I wonder how the New York Chapter of NOW feels about Senator Clinton's husband fighting her battles.

    Senator Clinton committed the "ultimate betrayal" to women by pushing her husband Bill "into the spotlight" instead of standing in her own light with her accomplishments and failures. How about the fact that Hillary left Bill Clinton in South Carolina with HER supporters to give a concession speech? Where was her "in person" thank you to all who fought hard for her? When things get rough is she going to send Bill to handle the things she doesn't want to face? Win or lose Hillary should have been in South Carolina until the very end campaigning with and leading her people.

    Eleanor Roosevelt said "It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself."

    January 28, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  19. Feminist in Iowa

    How is supporting Obama anti-woman? If NOW is supporting Hillary SOLELY because of her gender, THAT is the great anti-feminist tragedy.

    January 28, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  20. D

    Folks, are we truly surprised in today's politics that a lobbyist group is upset because they are not getting their way after they did favors for a candidate (including forgiving, standing by, and sticking up for)?

    I love how they stop short of saying the word "support" because that would seem like they paid him to to vote their way. Even though the forgiving, standing by and sticking up for could be considered (and shortened to) support.

    This is just another example of how lobbyists expect "support" when they offer "support". Just another day in "one hand washes the other" Washington. IMO

    January 28, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  21. In Boston

    NOW – NY should ask Hillary Clinton why she needs her husband to sling dirt on Obama if she is so capable fighting for the presidency. Being a woman in my early forties, it's sad to see a woman as talented as Hillary go crying to Bill when the going gets tough. Let's face it NOW – NY – the battles that the President of the USA will face when in office will be a lot harder and gruelling than what the candidates will see during the run for the Presidency. If she cannot handle it now, how can she ever think of handling it when it's show time, Ted Kennedy is wise to pick the best candidate – one who is tough, intelligent, charismatic and principled. Go Obama!

    January 28, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  22. Sue

    About time. Thank you. This is what No One wants to hear. The forgotten story. Because the Media is playing deaf and dumb. Why did r CNN screwed up the real analysis of the South Carolina race? By the way, Kennedy, Gary Hart, John Kerry - three tired liberal white men who want to look relevant again.

    January 28, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  23. Gil - California

    With that statement, NOW proves that they are a sexist organization. Just for that I am burning my NOW membership card right NOW!

    January 28, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  24. Corey, Bloomington IN

    I'd be happy to vote for a qualified female candidate if one was running.

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

    It's a shame the way Ted Kennedy, blasted the Clintons, during the Obama endorement. I'm glad the Chapter is taken sometype of action.

    January 28, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
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