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. Kerrie

    Wow, I can't believe this but I am going to stand up for Ted Kennedy:-) Sorry folks, not a big fan of his but he did nothing wrong here. I am probably more a libertarian than a republican but I like to listen to everyone. Ultimately I want someone in the whitehouse who is going to actually work to get something done instead of pushing their own singleminded agendas. I want someone who is going to meet people in the middle, I can't stand anyone too far on one side or the other because they become too impressed with the sound of their own voice and stop listening to others. We live in a plural society and have to compromise sometimes. I think people should vote whomever they chose and it is not anyones right to chastize them for the choices they make, certainly not a womans group that touts itself on choice. As a woman and an American, I want someone who will play nice with others, tired of the dynasties. So, while I favor McCain on a general election, if Romney or Huckabee got the nomination I would vote Obama but never Hillary....that's my choice.

    January 28, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  2. Elizabeth

    I am a strong supporter of women's rights but if women want to be regarded as equal the last thing we should do is whine and complain when we don't get what we want. It's about equality, freedom and respect. Free to choose who to support. It would be more disrespectful, in my opinion, to vote for a woman just because of her gender, than her mind and her integrity.

    Clinton sent out mail in NH and IA stating that Obama was not 100 percent prochoice when he has the same rating if not better with prochoice organizations than Clinton does but she lied and sent out the mail anyway.

    Let's be mature, America and respect each other's opinions and beliefs. Clinton, Obama, McCain, whoever we choose to represent what we want the new face of America to be no matter what that person looks like or whats between their legs.

    Get real, NOW NY.

    January 28, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  3. oliver

    This is real dumb!

    January 28, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  4. Data Point

    In the interest of female equality, we claim to be a country of equality, however, the United States has yet to elect a female President or Vice President. I find it ironic that women have been elected or appointed as Heads of State (Prime Minister) of other world governments, to include,

    Bulgaria, France, Malta, Mongolia, Canada, Peru, China, Argentina, Bolivia, Iceland, Malta, Switzerland, Phillipines, Haiti, Germany, Nicaragua, Chile, Israel, Liberia, Georgia, Serbia, Panama, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Burundi, India, Great Britain, Finland, Guyana, San Marino

    Just a data point...

    January 28, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |


    January 28, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  6. Evergreen State

    If any woman is suitable to run the White House, it sure as hell isn't Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  7. brad, omaha

    boo hoo hoo

    who's cryin now?

    not obama.

    no sir.

    January 28, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  8. Kate, New York, NY

    In thinking about this, I would guess that even Caroline Kennedy would have a preference for a male president, since she was raised among the Kennedys.

    It is a holdover of large Irish Catholic families, that even when women are successful, we all "know" that men are in charge. That is not to diminish women's accomplishments, or say that women can't be educated, etc.

    Think about it. Teddy Kennedy was raised in the old school of Catholicism. Even if he hasn't completely lived the life of a devout Catholic, he internalized its "truths."
    That men could be priests, and that while women can serve, they are still laypeople, even as nuns (yes, nuns are not clergy, they are laypeople).

    January 28, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  9. MCR, Conn.

    I honestly think the Kennedy camp was legitimately angry at the Clintons for the good cop/bad cop stunt and some of the scathing and irresponsible comments Bill made.

    Clinton's tactics smack of someone who will do or say anything to get elected. Obama is calling Hillary on the carpet for not standing up to the Iraq war, and she strikes back with insulting and borderline racist comments... Her gender is not the issue, it's her character.

    Kennedy's seasoned and seen plenty of dem candidates get roughed up by conservatives, he probably has a pretty good instinct about Obama and Clinton's relative electability.

    January 28, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  10. confidential

    Isn't backing a candidate based on gender sexist? I am surprised people can decry discrimination and yet embrace it so fervently! We should vote for who we believe will be the most capable leader, not whether they are our favorite color, gender or creed.

    January 28, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  11. Kathy

    Hillary all the way. She will make a great president. She has many endorsements that are unreported by the media. She united Dems and Republicans in New York and she will do the same in the White House. You go girl!

    January 28, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  12. Geoff

    Yowza–that was an ill advised press release! I guarantee the Clinton campaign is not happy with this little story (nice job by the national NOW office to rebut this quickly–I have a feeling the NY chapter is going to feel some heat from the national leadership). The first sentence of the press release ("Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal.") takes hyperbole to new heights (The ULTIMATE betrayal! The worst betrayal of women ever!). Yes, good point, progressive leaders who choose Obama over Clinton are betraying all women. Anyone who supports Obama is not a feminist and is betraying women. That's what's going on.

    I'm very much a feminist (problems with gender and patriarchy arguably run even deeper than problems of race) and support most if not all of NOW's agenda, but this comment was just unbelievably stupid and can only hurt Clinton's campaign. NOWNYS should have taken a few deep breaths before releasing that incoherent rant.

    January 28, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  13. Charles

    By the way, how about another senator endorsing another candidate the very same day (Ben Nelson, Fla and Hillary Clinton)?

    January 28, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  14. Ernie

    Shame on that NOW chapte!. This is blind sexist bigotry as un-American as racism. Let candidates stqnd on their merits, alone, regardless of sex or skin color.

    January 28, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  15. Oh Golly Chuck

    Thank you Ted Kennedy for your ultimate betrayal of NOW. Those gals are just too funny when they get mad.

    To further our enjoyment, will you please follow up with one or all of the following?

    "I'm not saying Hillary isn't a fine gal. Just the opposite, she's very competent for a woman."

    "Bill, you should have given me Chelsea's phone number when I asked for it."

    "Hillary, I'm backing Obama. Get over it, and please have my shirts done by Tuesday. "

    Thanks Ted!

    January 28, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  16. C.H.

    I've never posted a comment to a "BLOG", but this article really got to me. As a US Marine I defend the right of all citizens to express their opinions, right or wrong, and for a group to demonize a political figure for his choice in a free election is wrong. I have nothing against Mrs. Clinton and I may even vote for her, not based on her gender but on her merits, she represents America, not women, Just as most of the other candidates do, Mr Romney doesn't just represent Mormons, Mr. McCain doesn't just represent military and Mr. Obama doesn't just represent minorities. In this day in age "special intrest groups" seem to, by default keep the country from moving forward. "Ask not what your candidate can do for just your group, but what they can do for the country". In closing I would like to suggest another acronym for NOW, since most of the country is moving toward total equality maybe they should call themselves "Not Only Women".

    January 28, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  17. Lilly

    Is refreshing to see that Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg are brave enough and intelligent enough to see that YES this country and the world need Barack Obama as our next President.

    Many of us would like to see a woman in the White House, however, I don't think Hillary would be FOR the PEOPLE as she claims. Take a look at how many special interest groups she has in 'her' interest - all those paybacks? wow..

    Hillary and Bill in my opinion seem very desperate and desperate people do desperate things...I'd vote for Bill again in a heartbeat however Hillary is not Bill and I don't think this country or the world would be any better with her as president because he and she would not necessarily want the same things for this country. And, mainly because she 'owes' so many for so much. I don't trust her when she says she will 'be big businesses best buddy' ... do you need that again in the white House? NO in my opinion we've lost our reputation in the world because of the republicans... and she was RAISED republican...

    Obama will do his best... and he can spell AND SAY and demonstrate DIPLOMACY. Let's give him the chance we gave John F. Kennedy so many years ago.

    Yes, I'm a white female.... however in my opinion race, color, should not be a factor in any of this.

    January 28, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  18. K

    so Ted should have voted for Clinton because she's a woman like them?? lmao

    January 28, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  19. Sylvia

    So many times we are placed in groups. Surely NOW is just recognizing that we all make decisions solely because of those affiliations. For NOW, I give these examples:

    I am 47 - and am voting for Obama
    I grew up poor - and am voting for Obama
    I grew up on a farm - and am voting for Obama
    I am female - and am voting for Obama
    I am Caucasian - and am voting for Obama
    I was raised Catholic - and am voting for Obama
    I earned a Ph.D. (cell, molecular biol) from Brandeis - and am voting for Obama
    I listen to NPR and KBCO - and am voting for Obama
    I am registered as an Independent - and am voting for Obama
    I carefully researched all the candidates, came to a decision prior to the Iowa caucus - and am voting for Obama!

    Don't hate - EDUCATE.
    Obama '08!

    January 28, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  20. XBuckeye

    When the Democrats get done, the Democrats will have vote Republican just to get things back to "normal". Thanks to the good ole boys back East!

    January 28, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  21. Danielle in Richmond

    Isn't selecting or not selecting a person because of their gender the definition of Sexism?

    January 28, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  22. ES

    NOW has every right to voice their opinion because they stand for all women, blacks, whites, latinos, asians and others. Its a shame that some women does not recognize the work of this organization which is to raise the status of women so that we can equally stand among men in this male dominated society. Our country is calling for a woman president to turn things on the right track and that time for change is now. Hillary is our best ever to do this hard job and we should all support her candidacy instead of bickering and slandering her. She represents every American. Her success is everybodys success. Hillary for president '08.

    January 28, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  23. A Woman for Obama

    Women's rights are one thing – our next President is another. This is blind gender voting – get over it! Look beyond Hillary and N.O.W. - step up a level and see beyond the "woman" thing – get global for God's sake!

    We need a man of vision such as the brilliant Barack Obama. We need to get past all divisions – one by one. We need a Leader who will UNITE the USA ... not a "seasoned" politician who is blinded by their own ambition and Washington rhetoric.

    There is an element of SELF in our motives – altruism is brushed aside when we are championing a cause. We need to set that aside and really CARE about what is best for the country. The answer:


    Vote for HOPE, not fear. See the FUTURE, not the past.
    It's all about the 'O' in '08
    YES WE CAN! – THIS MANTRA HAS HELPED ME IN MY DAILY LIFE ALREADY! I go about my daily struggles chanting "Yes we can"
    **What inspiration this man brings to us** – all the way down to the smallest details of our lives. He is our hope for ethical, forthright, leadership.

    January 28, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  24. robbie

    i think women do a good job in society but does that mean i am obliged to vote for one?

    Ted just went with his heart, not his mind.

    January 28, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  25. Connie

    I support Kennedy's decision. The fact that the National Organization for Abortion doesn't makes my decision even more so. Ihave little, respect for that group any way.

    January 28, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
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