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. CA

    And now the ultimate betrayal! NY State NOW had joined the list of elitist white women who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of an African-American president who is Barack Obama.

    (Note for satire-insensitive: This hopefully demonstrates the ridiculousness and intellectual bankruptcy of NY State NOW's argument.)

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


    January 28, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  3. maynard

    hillary clinton is not presidential material.. she is a woman who has wore out her welcome as president in the usa...she will stop at nothing to get her way.

    she even had the bed room boy doing his dasterly deeds in sc and it did not pay off. a lot was said when ted and caroline endorsed obama

    you would think by now the woman of many faces would see the hand writing on the wall. but when you are power hungry and head stong they can only see winning. go ahead and make a-- out of yourselves go bill go bill

    January 28, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  4. jack2

    Its because of strange vindictive logic like this that women have to form groups like NOW.
    get over it: I'd vote for Condy Rice( woman AND black) over Edwards and McCain. never Hillary!

    January 28, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  5. Sophie

    The New York state chapter of NOW is giving women a bad name

    January 28, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  6. Dem. going Rep.

    This is the guy who left a woman to drown, remember? Hillary is lucky he didn't endorse her. And btw - everyone was complaining the Bill Clinton was picking on Obama. But noone is saying anything about Caroline and Teddy tag-teaming? Give me a break.

    I will vote Republican before I vote for Obama. He is a phony....and no innocent. He keeps trying to evoke the legends of JFK, MLK....what's next, Moses? Christ? Oh..what a minute...wrong religion...

    Go home Obama, to IL, where you didn't do much. America does not need you.

    January 28, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  7. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    I cannot imagine what Senator Kennedy or Caroline Kennedy must be thinking.

    As stated previously, there is no measure on God's earth that can compare Senator Obama to JFK. They are simply NOT alike at all.

    NOW is right, this marks an abandonment by the Kennedy's.

    Henceforth, the Kennedy's have lost my support, and that of the vast majority of Democrats.

    January 28, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  8. VTD

    I thought that NOW went out of business during the Bill Clinton Administration. They were eerily silent when Bubba was president.

    January 28, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  9. Eric

    Is this really a headline CNN?

    The national chapter of NOW has distanced themselves from this local chapter and praised Mr. Kennedy's record on women's rights. To give this one outburst of negativity equal billing with national events seems out of context.

    Makes one wonder who is 'buttering your bread' CNN.

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

    ted kennedy should have been nuetral. Hillary Clinton has a lot of good things that she can bring to the Presidency. Obama has too. ted kennedy in this respect is divisive of the democratic party. an icon like him should have just gone nuetral and let the best girl..best man win.


    January 28, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  11. Walt, Belton, TX

    Sounds like NOW-NY is definitely not the state chapter for MENSA. Certainly not packed with Rhodes' Scholars either, although considering slick willie was one does not make that such a crowning achievement either.

    January 28, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  12. Sam

    Why is this even a story? Why is CNN giving so much credence to this one chapter? Even if the organization as a whole is narrow-minded enough to believe that voting for a female candidate is better than voting for the BEST candidate, the organization as a whole isn't stupid enough to actually SAY it. Thank you CNN for wasting my time on a truly idiotic story.

    January 28, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  13. Niall

    First we heard Bill Clinton alluding, in a not very subtle way, that the people of South Carolina only voted for Barack Obama because he was a black man and that they didn't have the democratic sophistication to vote outside of their ethnic conscience. Now we hear NOW-NY objecting to the Kennedy's endorsement of Obama on the grounds that they have a moral obligation to support a woman for the presidency simply because she is a woman. Never mind the fact that Hillary and her husband have demonstrated abundantly over the last few weeks their total lack of integrity and credibility or the fact that, even if Hillary were to win the Democratic nomination and, by some miracle, avoid getting humiliated at the general election, her presidency would do more to set back to role of talented, capable, women than any endorsement or lack thereof can ever do.

    If Hillary Clinton has a shred of integrity, she will denounce this intervention on her behalf for what it is – a shameless and futile effort to consign women to the same camp that Bill Clinton seems to be trying to consign African-Americans. Of course, maybe NOW-NY is acting as a surrogate for Hillary in which case she will not come out and denounce their ridiculously petty outburst.

    January 28, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  14. Erin

    Voting for someone because of their gender is as ridiculous as not voting for someone because of their gender. Hillary Clinton is the one way Democrats could fail to win the White House in November, and that makes her a lesser Democratic nominee.

    This statement by NOW is completely absurd. I feel betrayed as a woman that they would act so completely irrationally and make women in general appear stupid. Have a brain, check out the issues, and realize Hillary Clinton is not a good choice.

    January 28, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. HC FInkel

    More devisiveness....Keep on Drive By Media and Clinton camp, you guys have a way losing elections. Wow since 2000 you cant seem to get it right. Focus on YOUR ISSUES>> well at least make up something to say other devisive tactics.

    January 28, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  16. newman

    So far I don't know anything about Obama really do something for us. Who can tell us and best his father status.

    January 28, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  17. Joe

    Who ever made that statement in the NOW organization or approved of it ought to resign immediately and save face.

    January 28, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  18. Diesel

    It seems to me that Clinton supporters are panicking. First they play the race card and now the gender race. I can't wait to see the Clinton machine collapse.

    OBAMA 08

    January 28, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. Mj

    This is exactly the type of mindset that makes women appear to lack substance. I am another "over 50 female" who would find Hillary Clinton among the least likely females I would consider voting for! Thank you very much for your input, NOW, but I am an educated women who will not vote for someone simply based upon their gender.

    January 28, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  20. mary

    Oh my word! Here come the women backing women team! Just find a life woman and take care of your household. Apparently you are learning how from Hillary hu? Mr. Kenney can support whomever he wishes. This is a totally free of choice issue, i feel that Mr. Obama is the RIGHT choice for us, not a MESSY WOMAN!

    January 28, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  21. nikko

    i read all of your comments and it is obvious we do not even know how to discuss a female – black male candidate for president. and i do not blame us...we have no experience in doing so.

    let's face it, we have had plenty of good white, male presidents and we have had plenty of poor ones. so, it is unfair for any of us to say a white woman or a black man would be a good or bad president.

    removing the outer skin for a moment, both hillary and obama are smart people with enough qualifications to be president. far more than most of us on this blog.

    if we want a change in government and a change in leadership and a change in direction, we have to recognize that we too have to change. we have a tendency to think that america is a land based on our leaders...when in fact it is a land based on us.

    so, when we start being a bit more civil to ourselves, our leaders, our planet, our children and our animal friends, maybe then we will be able to really look at hillary, obama, john, rudy, et al, as possible leaders who can be proud of the country they may lead. let's face it...how can we expect so much from them when we offer so little...

    January 28, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  22. Dagmar

    As a female I am opposed to the remark that NOW issued in regards to Mr. Kennedy's endorsement.
    I would love to see a female president, but I have watched Mrs. Clinton and I am sad to say that she will not receive my vote.
    I do not beleive she has what it takes to be the next president of the United states.

    January 28, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  23. AJ, IL

    When did being only a woman qualify someone to be president? Great an All-Woman PAC who probably gave money to Hillary is now slamming Ted Kennedy and the work he has done on the behalf of women! WOW! Keep talking NY State Chapter of NOW! Your tone and rhetoric are ridiculous and is reminiscent of Bill Clinton's tone and rhetoric leading up to the SC primary.

    January 28, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  24. Common Sense Please?

    ......we have things like this happen all the time and yet people wonder why everyone else all around the world either hates the United States ((oh sorry, it should be United Pansies)) or refuses to help us with anything these days. hmmm, i wonder why..... ((note sarcasm))

    perosnally, i think our whole government is screwed and we need to start over from the beginning. screw republicans, screw democrats, can't we just have a leader who knows what the hell they're doing?

    NOW needs to just shutup and go away. i'm all for women's rights and all, hell i am one, but.....wasn't the whole sexist issue solved many years ago? women do have rights. so does that mean no one else can choose who they want as president just because some rich pricks feel "offended"?

    again i say, we are no longer the Unites States of America. we are the United Pansies of America. i am ashamed to call myself an american and can't wait till i graduate from college so i can get the hell out.

    January 28, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  25. Rob Irmas

    If that is the type of rhetoric that we will be in store for if Sen. Clinton is President, then let me join Sen. Kennedy in his support of Sen. Obama.

    Congratulations NOW, you have just influenced the outcome of the California primary.

    January 28, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
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