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. Mike

    Wow are the comments on this board really silly. NOW isn't saying to vote for Hillary because she is a woman, they are saying that Kenedy, and his rude and devisive speach, are offensive at its core....

    January 28, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  2. J Blair

    I wonder if Vince Foster, Ron Brown, and Webster Hubbell would have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

    January 28, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  3. L C

    I am a female baby boomer, a women's libber, but I think NOW has it wrong. Having always voted for female candidates if available and qualified, I and many of my friends couldn't wait to vote for a female president. However, in good conscience I cannot vote for Hillary. She is status quo establishment. She supported and continues to support the war In Iraq and has not taken responsibility for it. Either she was complicit with the Bush Administration, or she was terribly ignorant to do so. I personally think she is very intelligent. How could she not have been aware of the the big lie when so many others could see through it? Too bad she didn't have the courage to stand up for the truth then. Too bad she still doesn't own up now. I'm not crazy for Obama, either, but at least he is inspirational, and there is hope that he can bring this country together on a more positive path. I think that is what the Kennedys see. It has nothing to do with Clinton being a woman. IMHO.

    January 28, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  4. Mr DE



    January 28, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  5. Lynn in Iowa

    Utterly ridiculous comments by NOW. Wonder what their reaction would be if a man's group supported Hillary??? This story really didn't even deserve print.

    January 28, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  6. Linda

    Are these women in high school?

    January 28, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  7. morrow

    Most of the comments here are completely missing the point of why NOW NY raised the issue. The issue is picking a less qualified man over a more qualified woman. He “picked the new guy” and “who appeals to hopes” rather than a women who has decades of accomplishments and experience, and can also appeal to the best in people. I went back to the link on Fact Check and watched the Reno Gazette Journal interview Obama gave where he said that the Republicans were “the party of ideas” and brought “clarity”, “optimism”, and “dynamism”. The pro-Obama press didn’t point out that he also said the three top issues the new president will start with are the war/military, health care, and the economy. He even admitted that he has limited experience in these areas and that he would need to get good advisors. Hillary clearly has more experience in all of these areas. I think she is far more likely to make the best decisions and get the best competent people into the right positions to move things forward. It’s also a bit ironic that Kennedy would say it’s time for a new generation, while he left off the talking point many others are using about it being time for a new family in politics (Bushes, Clintons . . . Kennedys). Like Hillary, his name has been one of the biggest fund raisers for Republicans, the only difference is that they’ve used his name for a few decades longer than hers. I don’t think moving past the Clintons buys anything in getting past the politics of divisiveness. The divisiveness of the Clinton years was not coming from the Clintons. It was primarily the Republicans & their attack dogs who instigated the divisiveness. I suspect that Obama will not be able to successfully unilaterally disarm in that fight. The right wing fight is not against individuals, but against ideas. Just remember that they managed to make a visionary like Al Gore, who was pushing the “Information Superhighway” in the early ‘90s and fighting against global warming his whole career, into an caricature serial exaggerator. And, the politics of the ‘90s did not end in the ‘90s, just look at what they did to Kerry in ’04 in swiftboating a war hero. Nowadays I hear the right wing spin doctors like Bill Bennett out there in places like CNN & MSNBC always using Obama’s Islamic sounding middle name. It is incredibly naïve to expect that they will change their tactics and fall into line and not attack Obama. The primary reason that they may not succeed again this fall, against whichever Democratic nominee emerges, is that their policies have been so bad that people are finally starting to see through their lies. Hillary has withstood their attacks for years, and emerged on top, Obama is untested, and yes, arguably less qualified.

    January 28, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  8. Emily

    This absolutely sickens me. I am a woman. I am all about women's rights and equality to men, but give me a break! I am supporting Obama whole-heartedly. It's this kind of thinking, this tunnel-vision that HURTS women's causes. To ALWAYS pick a women over a man, just because of her gender, is hypocritical at best and takes away any and all credibility of the issuer. I look forward to the day when a woman is President of the United States, but I simply do not think that Hillary is that woman. We need the best person for the job, male or female. This time, as Ted Kennedy so powerfully said, that person is Barack Obama. These women disgust me.
    I've never left a comment in this forum, but this upset me just enough to do so.

    January 28, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  9. ben/ny

    one word: "old school way of thinking". calling obama and kennedy sexist is like calling bush and cheney liberal. ha ha!! kennedy stayed neutral until bill crossed the line. this is coming from someone who supported clinton up until recently (and is from NY) and has swung obama. GET OVER THE RACE/GENDER THING...not what this is about and all NOW is doing is making it worse.

    January 28, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  10. John

    MAYBE he's a better candidate? Maybe Hillary sucks?

    TYPICAL NOW LIBERALS, if we don't support your candidate it certainly must be because she is a woman, not because she would make a horrible president just like her husband!

    Unbelievable! Get over it.

    January 28, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  11. Janice Adams

    I'm a woman, a broker-dealer of twenty years with a large bank and a HUGE supporter of Barack Obama. Why? Because if his wife was a lifetime cheater that disrespected men the way that Bill Clinton disrespects women then I know that he would have the courage to leave her instead of using her to obtain an advancement.

    January 28, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  12. anon

    joe: Holy crap is dat sum hypocrisy I see?? A Clinton supporter accusing the Kennedy family of self-centered politicking? The Clintons are willing to destroy the Democratic party to win this nomination, and you're criticizing the Kennedys for selfish behavior?? Wow. You are delusional.

    January 28, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  13. Jessica

    NOW needs to get over itself. So, if the Kennedys had endorced Clinton, would the NAACP come out and say that Kennedy has betrayed blacks? Come ON!

    January 28, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  14. Deng Kenjok

    National organization for women does not represent the voices of all women, Obama did very well with woment votes through out this campaign. So what are you telling us.
    Please stop gendermongering.

    January 28, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  15. unbelievable

    I am amazed and shocked at how many people actually support Obama inspite the fact that the guy has done NOTHING to deserve such overwhelming admiration. What kind of "change" are people talking about? Do we pick a president based on some ridiculous slogan or someone who has a proven record of making a change? Unbelievable! We already have a president people would like to have a "beer" with and where did it get us? And the fact that all those senators are "endorsing" Obama tells me that they're simply jealous of the Clintons. Brilliance often causes ill will. This has been proven through the ages. It's sad and painful to see it happening in this great country.

    January 28, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  16. Son

    To the person who says "to hell to the right"...
    ...all the more reason to greet them.

    What's been wrong all these years during the Bush Presidency?
    The fact that they've been saying "to hell to the left."

    January 28, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  17. Robin Wagner from ct

    No if your voting just make history don't vote . And this is a free country . Sen Kennedy had a right to support whom ever he wants . SAD!!!!! when now a women group tell us all whom should endorse whom . I'm 42 year old women .
    I support the one I feel I can trust . And support the one I see that can heal us American people . And want as a president that will not divide . But unit us all. And that person is Barack Obama . He the right one for the right times . This country need to past the flame of hope to a new face . A new generation of voters across this country . Seen when is it we vote because want to make History . Because Hillary is a women . Well sorry this women will not be voting because of making history ,
    Thank You for your views . Bad views but never less your . And that is mine .
    Robin Wagner

    January 28, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  18. Sarah

    I'm in NOW–and I support President Obama, why is it they think we are all in unison supporting Clinton. Just because I am a feminist doesn't mean I think the only woman candidate to be the President.

    I simply don't think she would be a good Prez, I can't trust her after what she did when she voted to go to war with Iraq.

    Obama didn't do that, I can trust him.

    January 28, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  19. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Great Kennedy's are gone long time ago, silly Kennedy did the foolish thing in his life, betrayer, Ted, you brought disgrace on Kennedy's family.

    January 28, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  20. nani

    NOW needs to sit down and shut up. How is it a betrayal of women to choose the best candidate over one who is shrill and divisive? It's been many decades since NOW spoke for the women of this country - and this type of medusa-like fury is the reason. Listen up, NOW, you and your radical rhetoric have hurt the women's movement more than helped. So: we don't listen to you any more.

    January 28, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  21. shsh

    Ted Kennedy has been the recipient of forgiveness by women voters for many years. He has conveniently forgotten this. Why? Who knows?

    I don't live in MA, so can't express feelings by my vote for Sen. Kennedy, but my vote for the presidential candidate will be for Senator Clinton.

    Ted....you need a nap.

    January 28, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  22. Thena

    This is just one more reason why NOW is largely irrelevant....

    January 28, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  23. Ed, FL

    News Flash!!!
    "The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It's not about rich vs. poor, young vs. old. And it is not about black vs. white." Barack Obama.
    This is the kind of message that draws a lot of support for Obama, not his gender nor his race. It would be as much historical to have a woman president as it would be to have a black man president. I think NOW is being cynical.

    OBAMA '08!!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  24. Anna

    I so agree that it has become clear that gender fears trump racial bias.
    No one believes that the Clinton's have any racial agenda. However, it appears
    clear that many a powerful man is frightened by the thought that a woman
    could be President. Carolyn Kennedy is pathetic and her Uncle shows his
    real belief that a woman is just good for a cold night to keep warm and nothing

    Women of the world unite there is nothing to lose but your chains.

    January 28, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  25. Muhammad Khan

    Well well well, First the Race card and now its down to gender. One word describes it all, Pathetic!

    The more Hillary supports/ campaign try attacking Obama with such ill-logical ideas the more my opinion abt Hillary being our next president changes. I was undecided for a long time, but Change it will be.

    – Obama 08

    January 28, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
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