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. Anonymous

    So, because Ted endorsed Obama he is now sexist?

    Do the Hillary people really think alienating another large group of people is a good idea. Do the Hillary people have any idea how highly respected Ted is within our party? Did the Hillary people not learn in SC how turned off people become with their desperate hateful attacks?
    I guess not.
    You Hillary people keep it up. Rip Ted apart and smear him with obvious and repulsive untruths. See how much respect that gets you.
    Hillary, Bill, and her camp are a real turn off.

    January 28, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  2. Michelle Matthews

    Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama is more detrimental than helpful in my opinion. Ted is a known killer and alcoholic. If he did not have the Kennedy last name he would not be a Senator he would be in jail. It is unbelievable that he was upset that Bill Clinton stated the facts on Obama's record and manipulations when Ted's personal history has been nothing but controversial. I guess next Obama can get Charles Manson to campaign for him. It is devastating to women that he is tarnishing the Kennedy legacy with his endorsement for a man that can give a good speech but lacks substance and experience to institute change. As a senator, he nows Obama's record of 100+ votes as present; thus, not committing to issues. It is refreshing to know that Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Kennedy do not share Ted and Caroline's tarnished views.

    January 28, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  3. beastofbourbon

    absurd logic...........to imply the Kennedys are not supportive of all rights , male , female and color is to deny history.........

    January 28, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  4. Carol

    Hillary just does not have the character traits I would like to see in my president.

    If only the democrats had encouraged Nancy Pelosi to run!

    January 28, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  5. CE, Wisconsin, USA

    What an ugly response.

    January 28, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  6. Aaron

    I can't believe the comments of NOW. Talking about woman's rights, women's voices and "equality". STOP! NOW is upset because they believe Obama was endorsed because he's a man, Yet they are saying he should have chose Hillary because she's a woman. Does anyone notice the hypocrisy?!?

    January 28, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. Flora

    Ted Kennedy led the Democratic part to a defeat in the last election because he is out of touch with regular citizens. He is doing the same thing with this election. Because Kennedy is angry with Bill Clinton is not sufficient reason to endorse Obama. His judgment has not been stellar on many issues. This is just another one of his bad decisions.

    January 28, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. Lightning

    It's unbelievable that they could makes statements such as the following:

    "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.’”

    Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner in this entire election! They are degrading women by making this statement. Absolutely ridiculous.

    January 28, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  9. Tara

    I like Hillary and I really like Bill, but the last few weeks of watching the Clinton camp trying to tear down Barack has really been distasteful to me. We have three very good candidates but Ted Kennedy recognized what I wish every Democrat would realize–HILLARY CANNOT WIN. And it has nothing to do with her being a woman. It has to do with her being Hillary. I'm for Obama because I want to WIN!

    January 28, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  10. Jill

    These NOW women need to get over their feelings that everyone is out to get them! I am so tired of women saying men are holding them down! Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama came because A WOMAN sent her MAN out to do her dirty work. The days of Gloria Steinham are over. The shrill of women shouting they are being mistreated is off-guided and out-dated. Why does NOW need to proclaim that the endorsement is gender related? Can't women stand on their own? Yes we can so NOW stop saying we can't. It's not about race or gender, the better person got the endorsement.

    January 28, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. Ben Palmer

    You don't see the NAACP or some organization like that for African Americans calling people who endorse Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, etc. traitors and accusing them of joining a list of people unable to handle an African American as president, now do you? This is utterly childish, just because Ted Kennedy chooses to pick a candidate other than Hillary Clinton does NOT say anything about whether or not he's against having a woman as president. Equal rights for women does not mean we pick the woman candidate in a presidential election just because she is a woman. I do want to see the United States have a woman president. In fact, I want to see us have president of any race, gender, sexual orientation or whatever the hell as long as they do whats right for our country.

    January 28, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  12. John

    Ignorance at its best. Kennedy does not owe you anything. I am impartial to his politics. However, to call Kennedy a misogynist is a Rove-type tactic. What is next? Kennedy is unpatriotic and let the heads roll for making a free choice. Think independent (no bias toward race and gender), research, and make your choice based on issues not too much on character.

    January 28, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  13. Sandra

    The New York chapter of NOW is right on in its criticism of Ted Kennedy. I am deeply disappointed in his decision to endorse the male establishment over the possibility of real change in leadership.

    January 28, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  14. Esther

    Well, well, if Obama wants to be AWAY Washington and represent a new era as he say....how he accept a very old Washington faces as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry? mmmmm.....In my view... The Kennedy's wants to be in the part of the GAME! any way, we most respect their decision and right.

    GO HILLARY, not matter who of your friends surprise you! Super Tuesday will be the day for decision and you are the best option for this country. GO HILLARY!

    January 28, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  15. Jim, Los Angeles CA

    Now the NOW, the women, know how it feels to be betrayed.

    The Clintons have since 1993 been betraying the voters who brought them to the White House in the 1992 election.

    I would say to the NOW women, get used to it.

    Bill Clinton was acting on the campaign trail, like an Arkansas slave owner.

    He insulted Black voters everywhere. Senator Kennedy responded to that in a correct and prompt fashion.

    Thank you Senator Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy for standing up for the non elitists.

    January 28, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  16. Howard Masur St. Charles, Illinois

    The NOW statement is idiotic. It seems that we are supposed to vote for Clinton just because she is a woman. How stupid. It is also not as if Obama wants to turn back the clock on women's rights.

    January 28, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  17. Malcolm

    It turns out that NOW stands for National Organization of Whiners.

    January 28, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  18. Flora

    I voted for Jackson when he ran for president. But, Obama is not tested. Things from his past may cost the Democrats the election. Clinton is tested.

    January 28, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  19. lydia fraser

    Doesn't anyone know anything about Ted Kennedy history?
    Hillary '08!!

    January 28, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    If you don't vote for Cliton your a sexist, If you don't vote for Oboma, you're a racist. I guess the best thing to do is not vote.

    January 28, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  21. Janet

    These are just the kind of statements that end up hurting women in the long run. I am a woman who supports and voted for Barack Obama. What does that make me...less of a woman? I don't think so. I always thought that NOW stood for the National Organization forWomen. It should change it's name to the National Organization for Women who support Hillary Clinton. This woman is sticking with Obama!

    January 28, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  22. Rich In Seattle

    So Obama can't play the race card, but NOW and Hillary can play the gender card anytime they want it seems. What a horrible thing NOW just did. They are no better than the Republicans who attack and hate any who disagree with them. Talk about only voting for someone because of their race or gender. They just showed that their support is superficial and is only because Hillary is a woman. Maybe they should support the better canidate. Sad sad sad.

    January 28, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  23. Captain America

    This is why the Republicans continually beat the Democrats. Democrat Congressmen like Kerry and Kennedy should let the American people decide and then in a united front endorse that candidate. Not going off in a half cocked power struggle and try to endorse one Democrat over another Democrat.

    What are they trying to say, that the American men and women in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina don't know what they are doing and where wrong for voting for someone other than the person they endorsed?

    January 28, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  24. ryan

    how is this a betrayal? he endorsed the candidate that he thought best for the job? should one vote for someone (or not vote for someone) because of their gender?
    should all of us who believe in gender equality just vote for hillary clinton because she's a woman? or should we vote for whomever we so choose regardless of gender or race?
    NOW is betraying their own cause by coming out and denouncing Kennedy. isn't claiming that kennedy should endorse her because she is a woman running for president the same as an all male group saying that he should endorse a man because he is, in fact, a man?

    In addition NOW is basically claiming it compromised its ethics by staying quiet on Kennedy's Title IX and ERA records. Why would they stay quiet? Is it not their goal to forward the betterment of women? if anyone is guilty of betrayal it's NOW for staying quiet about Kennedy on such important topics. that sounds more like a betrayal then Kennedy not endorsing clinton because of her gender. sounds like NOW tried doing a few favors for Kennedy and was expecting this in return. corrupt lobbyists if i've ever heard of them.

    how about people try something new and vote for who their conscience directs them. maybe that's what Kennedy did.

    January 28, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. Tom, Cville, VA

    Wow, that is just dumb-sounding. He betrayed them because he didn't automatically endorse the female candidate? I agree it will be a great day when this country gets its first woman president–and the same goes for the first president of color–but only if that candidate is the best one at the time. Apparently Kennedy thinks Clinton is not, and he endorsed the person he thinks is. By the complaining group's thinking, if he didn't endorse Obama, he'd be a racist. And if he endorsed Edwards–gasp!–he'd be a sexist racist. Really poor thinking in this complaint.

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