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. one of women

    women suffer most, men do what they want, do not respect women, – well not all men, there are some men who hold respect for women, but it is not too many of them. And it is women who care, bring children to this world, who raise children most, who do for others, who care, who are smart, and do more.
    I am disappointed by Kennedy's decision.
    hope for Hillary!

    January 28, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  2. Don


    I'm a huge fan of Bill Clinton, but what he and Sen. Clinton have done over the past few weeks to smear Sen. Obama is approaching the levels to which we saw the GOP stoop to debase VP Gore and Sen. Kerry in '00 and '04.

    My vote and my money are going to Sen. Obama.

    January 28, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  3. robbie


    January 28, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  4. Jeremy

    Shame on Kennedy for his an act unbecoming for an elderly statesman that I have always viewed him to be. The best respect he could have garnered for himself was to remain neutral and allow the American people to decide for themselves. Endorsing an absolute neophyte who has no accomplishment whatsoever, but sputting rhetoric to deceive the American people, is an ultimate betrayal and disservice to this country.


    January 28, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  5. Sharon

    I would love to see a woman or a black man or black woman elected to the presidency in my lifetime, but I want the best candidate to lead this country and it happens that Hillary is the best candidate. Obama lacks experience. He should run in four or eight years from now; this is Hillary's year. I don't know what Kennedy's motive is in supporting Obama–he could just as well have remained neutral–but I am suspicious of his motives.

    January 28, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  6. TG

    Is Caroline Kennedy a traitor too?

    January 28, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  7. john

    Finally, confirmation that NOW is not about equal rights and representation. They have a very self centered agenda that promotes women beyond an equal playing field. Evidence suggests this is the most sexist group in politics today.

    January 28, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  8. Julie, Binghamton, NY

    While I don't think NOW should condemn Kennedy's endorsement, I can understand from a female perspective why his endorsement would be seen as sexist. In the abstract this situation sounds like the typical sexist promotion stunts that used to go on in corporate America. A woman works in a business for many years, works closely with her male collegues, and once a promotion comes up, her male co-workers would rather support a younger, less experienced male candidate than her.

    January 28, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. Joe, SoCal

    Nice way to set the women's movement back 50 years, NOW.

    January 28, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  10. Sus

    I think this group is expressing a deep frustration that many women feel about the way Clinton has been portrayed during the campaign. It's as if the media is channeling the republicans. Coverage of this primary has been abusive toward Sen. Clinton and has portrayed B.O. as a rock star never forced to answer with specifics. The problem is that this is about the ability to do a job. Whenever the coverage actually sticks to the subject, she blows him away. I am sorry this group expressed its frustrations with so many exclamation marks but I do agree that Kennedy has hopped on the trendy bandwagon in an attempt by his family to revisit the spotlight. I'm disgusted by the whole thing and working even harder for Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  11. kewl breeze

    From a family of womanizers and alleged rapists what do you expect. Remember Mary Jo Kopechne . All the politically correct women's groups that supported him because he was pro abortion are now betrayed. LOL

    January 28, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  12. Yes We Can!

    These crazy groups like NOW and PETA are getting out of control. Their idea of freedom is what they believe and anyone who doesn't conform to what they believe is right will a tongue lashing. As a woman I feel very BETRAYED by NOW by not letting people vote for what they believe in and in MY WORLD it is NOT Hillary Clinton! These groups turn intelligent people off and what is left are the people who are aching for some acknowledgment. What a shame!

    January 28, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  13. Jack

    Oh please, NOW, quite whining. Kennedy did the right thing by supporting who is obviously the best candidate and the ONLY Democratic candidate that has any chance of winning the general election in 2008. Not only is Hillary Clinton very much a part of the status quo in Washington, which voters are sick of, but she is absolutely despised by virtually every Republican in the country. If you are impressed with the large number of Democrats that are turning out to vote, you would be astounded by the huge number of Republicans that would turn out in a general election simply to vote against Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  14. Tommy

    this is the craziest idea i have ever heard , most of time i ignore comments by users but for first time inclined to tell some thing about such stupid thinking and excuses that ppl come with

    January 28, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  15. Pam -, Arkport, NY

    NOTE – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is supporting Senator Clinton, so not all of the Kennedy's have chosen to use the Media to ruin the Democratic Party before the canidate is chosen by the people in the Democraic Party. Big Bosses are done in parties, if we really want a change in this country to THINK for ourselves.

    Pam – Arkport, NY

    January 28, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  16. C

    Hillary, please explain your 35 years of experience!

    January 28, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  17. Becky

    As a 56 year old female, I am appalled that the National Organization for Women has made this campaign a referendum on female competency for the office of president. It is unfortunate that the first viable female candidate is not someone who is qualified for the office. Get over it. The office of the President of the United States is not an affirmative action post. Go Obama

    January 28, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  18. aware

    It didn't take NY NOW to raise the gender card. It has been there all along, and NY NOW certainly has a right to its opinion.

    Big Ted should have stayed neutral though! He will just cause more division for the Democrats, and he won't help his protege(one who is protected or trained or whose career is furthered by a person of experience, prominence, or influence).

    Barack began a dialogue with Big Ted a year ago, and Ted encouraged him to run for president. Why do you think they got together in the first place?

    Seriously, race and gender are an exciting part of this race, but hopefully people will do their research and vote for the best candidate.

    January 28, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  19. James

    Kelly- she is a woman who can run on her own merits.She is a much stronger woman than she gets credit for- Bill looked to her for advise when he was president, I am old enough to remember the good old Clinton days, seems some have forgotten. Hillary 08

    January 28, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  20. Jen, Gainesville

    New York state chapter of NOW is purely playing the gender card. What a shame! Did the Clintons betray them when Bill took advantage of woman employees and Hillary played dirty tricks to make these women appear "liers" in public?

    January 28, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  21. mar-mar

    Give me a BREAK!!!! Women's rights groups who endorse the opinion of "let's vote for Senator Clinton, because she is a woman" are completely ignorant and hypocritical. Measure a person by the content of their character as opposed to their gender. You have just set causes for women back 10 years. Shame on you!

    January 28, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  22. Heather

    And had he backed Hilary he would be lambasted for picking a white candidate over a black. Personally I'm surprised he sobered up enough to endorse anyone.

    January 28, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  23. Jo

    Not all women feel the same. as a women myself I say we need a change and I think Obama is the one for us! Enough of the past we need a clean slate and new future.................

    January 28, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  24. Greg Fensterman

    Oh this is just sad.

    So a vote for anyone except Hillary is a vote against women and a women's rights?

    A woman who votes for anyone but Hillary is a judas to her gender?


    NOW – you lost a lot of credibility with such a position. The world is more complex than your simplistic and self serving attitude.

    "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."

    Oh come on. Are you so totally sexist that you can't see past a person's gender? Is that the only lens through which you view the world?

    Fortunately of course the women of this country are more sophisticated than the leadership of NOW and will make their decisions based on what they feel is the best choice, the best person, to lead the nation in such difficult times.

    January 28, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  25. Gayron Taylor

    Well, I like Ted but I think that he should have stayed out of this until we have a democratic winner. I do not understand why for the life of me a person that gives "feel good speeches" is a "New Politics." You know Ted talks about good politics but I remember, even though I was not born yet, he was the one whom took his nomination to the convention. I think if Obama wants to turn a page, he should be running away from Ted. Obama has been in politics for some time and just because he was not in Washington he thinks like a one of "them."
    Obama was on the stump the other day reporting that he answered Tim honestly by saying that he losses paper. I guess that is what happened to his paper trail with every one he met with with in the State Senate. I wonder if Rezko and he meet often. Hum for you Obama people, can you find that one out for US here in FL. Obama will be rejected in one day, due to his hint that we do not count.

    January 28, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
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