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. Alice

    News flash to Rafi who posted the following:

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


    There are many, many African-American men and women who would make a better President than Barack Hussein Obama. They, unfortunately, are not running.

    January 28, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |


    January 28, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. Bob

    It's clearly obvious to the intelligent indiviual that this statement is ignorant and completely ludicrous. The fact remains though that not every individual in this country is well educated and capable of making political decisions based on personal stances and independant thought. It's unfortunate that a statement like this, ridiculous as it is, will be heard by some and seen as valid.

    January 28, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  4. Jen

    This is revolting. Women can support a man as president even when a woman is in the race. Supporting Obama does not mean you are turning against women. Hillary Clinton does not represent women. Yes, she is a woman but that does not mean she is the all knowing "woman" who represents us all. By the same token, Barack Obama is black but that does not mean he represents all black people. When a woman says that she is voting for Hillary because "it's time we had a woman president", it shows a complete lapse of judgment. Please, let's elect the best person for the job, not the best gender!

    Let's get over this stupid gender and race argument and talk about the candidates as people. Regardless of race or gender, they should be judged equally.

    January 28, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  5. Molly

    Like anyone cares what Ted Kennedy (or anyone else who gives an endorsement) thinks about anything. I'll vote for whoever I think is best for the job. Anyone whose opinion can be swayed by someone else's endorsement should just stay home on Election Day.

    January 28, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. Pat Jontiff


    January 28, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. Erin

    They are scared, they are worried that he might win. He should, I don't feel that hilary is running. Does that group support him. I am glad that Mr Kennedy chose the Better MAN!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  8. Lightning

    I'm guessing this statement from NOW never went through the Clinton camp. There is no way it would have cleared. This can only look bad for Clinton.

    January 28, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  9. SteveFromTucson

    Since when does anyone care what a collection of post menopausal old bags have to say. Isn't this the same group that sided with "bubba" after his attacks on women came out. I suppose the rape of Juanita Broderick and hilterly's cover up is ok as well. These old bags should simply shut up and find a life....

    January 28, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  10. Tamiko Robertson

    Why is NOW so fired up about Kennedy supporting Obama?! Are they (the Kennedy's) supposed to support Sen. Clinton just because she is a woman? That's just like saying men are supposed John Edwards because he is a male or African-American's are supposed support Obama because he is African-American. What about the issues? What about the beliefs whether they are male, female, or based on race. Give me a break.

    January 28, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  11. toby ives

    Is NOW out of their minds? You would endorse a couple who have consistently lied to the American people? You have lost all credibility!! I am a white female in her mid-40s. Shame on you!!

    January 28, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  12. karen

    barack the uniter-sounds like george bush the great uniter! destiny's call – how naive. if he gets nominated the GOP will eat him alive. lets see how hope and change will get thru what they dish out. it will be fun to see teddy kennedy rescue him.

    January 28, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  13. B Cowan

    Hilary Clinton's behavior in the weeks leading up to the South Carolina primary suggests that she hasn't figured out that you don't sell your self as a competent, experienced professional by allowing your husband to act like a bully and a bigot on your behalf. To the extent that the Clinton campaign is effectively marketing itself as a co-presidency, it is doing a disservice to women, and to Democrats. Bill Clinton's treatment of women in his personal and professional life leaves much to be concerned about. He had his two terms, it's time for someone new. If Hilary can't set herself apart as her own person, than she is not the femminist she would have us believe her to be.. Shame on her and shame on NOW.

    January 28, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  14. Tom-Midland TX

    Obama will do what Teddy wants him to do. Yes sir boss.

    January 28, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. Corey

    For all the people out there saying that the democrats are going to have a hard time winning in this election I find it funny. Look at the numbers. In Iowa when both democrats and republicans alike voted on the same night there were 2 times the amount of democrat voters.

    In South Carolina alone there were 500K plus democratic voters.

    I think America has seen what kind of a nose dive that a conservative, greedy, corporate lapdog type government can do for us. And is now starting to make up their mind on who they support.

    I sincerely believe that Barrack isn't winning because he is black.
    He isn't winning because he is a Male.
    He isn't winning because of his endorsements.
    It all comes down to the fact that he has great character, He has great ideas, and has ran a stunning campaign. I believe in Barrack, and hope that others will listen to him speak and think whole heartedly about what he stands for.

    January 28, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  16. Justin

    NOW: Have you ever considered he feels Barack is the better contender? By accusing him of these claims, it only goes to show you simply back Hillary because she is a woman.

    If you fools had any sense, you'd back the contender who is the best candidate based on their politics and beliefs, not solely on their gender.

    As for Hillary, I'm all for a woman president, but she is NOT the best representative of our female population. I only pray a better one steps forward someday who is deserving of our, NOW's, Ted Kennedy's, and everyone else's praise.

    January 28, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  17. gene

    Now comes the ranting and raving and howling Clinton haters.Now must be right and hit a nerve. Some men just can't take a strong women and they think it challenges their so called manhood. Get over it bubba as you are going to have to handle your problem for about eight years. Not only is she strong-she is smart and intelligent and that's more they we can say for you.

    January 28, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  18. AER

    Obama plans to take away NASA funds to bolster education. That alone is enough of a reason not to vote for him...he has no foresight or vision for our future. Thank God Jack Kennedy had more vision in the 60's than Teddy does today. Find the money for education elsewhere. There is plenty of government waste out there.

    I am a white woman and I will vote for Hillary because she is the best candidate and the only one who can beat the Republicans. All those red and redneck states that elected Bush for two terms will not elect a black inexperienced candidate. Think, think, think. If the Democrats want to win in November against the Republicans, they need a reality check fast.

    A vote for Obama now is a vote for McCain later.

    Go Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  19. echeola

    That is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. Can you imagine NAACP putting out a press release like this? Unbelievable!!

    Crap like this is the reason NOW's membership is shrinking, and aging. Keep it up and become even more irrelevant. Such a horrible future for an organization with such a great legacy.

    January 28, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  20. Sandra

    Way to go NOW......making yourselves look very stupid, because y'all live in some crazy misandrist fantasy land.

    You make feminists look so bad with this crazy crap, we can't even use the word "feminist" anymore because people think of NOW's irrelevant and strident old dinosaurs.......and start laughing.

    January 28, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  21. Amanda

    I cant believe this statement. Lots of women and men have back both candidates for various reasons. So are the other Obama backers traitors also? That's just horrible to believe. For them to single out one single Obama supporter is crazy! I think that both genders should vote based on the issues, but because of race or gender.

    January 28, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  22. Steveda

    How does an organization that is supposed to stand for EQUAL rights, and an end to the labelling of people suddenly contradict itself and label Kennedy??? The hypocrites... but then I knew tha about these people all along.

    Just a few other rants while I am typing ... How about finding a woman that can run without a co-president? Maybe one that can stand on her own? How about one that is not willing to compromise herselfto the nth degree just for a shot at power? Hillary is married to a guy that has cheated on her for 30 years... why? Because he gives her a shot to be President. If she is willing to compromise herself to that degree what won't she do for power?

    Why is Bill soooo intertested in getting Hillary elected? Loyalty to his loving wife? I think not, I believe his sex life has taken a nose dive since he was in office. Bring on the interns!!!!

    January 28, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  23. Tre

    This is the most ridiculous statement I've ever read! So now I should vote with my gender, not with my conscious. What a laughing stock NOW has become. Just fodder for late-night TV.

    January 28, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  24. matt

    A statement like this one from NOW really makes me want to become a Republican.

    See the statements by Candice above. My thoughts exactly.

    January 28, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  25. Chad

    I suppose that if he backed Hillary, the NAACP would be calling him a racist? I am not a woman, but I doubt NOW speaks for all women. So when they say that Kennedy betrayed all women – that's a pompous and self indulgent farce. Who are they? It's not like Obama doesn't have the same progressive views. Idiots.

    January 28, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
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