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. Kyle

    This should have some entertaining backlash. What a joke.

    January 28, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  2. Fred

    Oh, come on! Not wanting Hillary Clinton as my president is not a statement against women's rights. I would vote for a woman if I thought she would be a good president – I just don't think Sen Clinton would make a good president.

    January 28, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  3. john williams san diego, ca.

    another reason to beware of NOW, their only agenda is feminist even it means voting for a proven congenital liar, 'her royal highness'..

    January 28, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  4. Nik

    Ted Kennedy's response to NOW: "I didn't endorse Obama because he's a man. I endorsed him because Hillary has cooties."

    A 1st grade rebuttal for a 1st grade argument.

    January 28, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  5. Alison, FL

    Is this for real??...Whatever! So Kennedy is supposed to support Hillary because she is a woman...that would be completely ridiculous! Come on...this story must be bogus!

    January 28, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  6. Tim McGuire

    NOW seems to be saying that any woman is better than any man running for President. Come on NOW! Support the best candidate, man or woman or you are as sexist as you seem to be accusing Senator Kennedy of being.

    This kind of thinking and politics is exactly what Obama is trying to change. If someone disagrees with you, you don't tear them down. The politics of division and "my way or the highway" will be over should Obama become President. Try to get beyond it! Let's all try to get beyond it!!

    January 28, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  7. Thomas

    It is a shame when comments like "progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president" come boiling out of the mouths of people speaking on behalf of organizations. Do all women feel this way? Are they so blinded by the prospect of finally getting "one of their own" into the oval office that they fail to see the actual person and comprehend their beliefs?

    I remember the Clinton years and the endless game of chess between the Clintons and investigators. I judge politicians on more than what is hanging between their legs (or not). They are all criminals to a degree, some worse than others, but all human with human flaws.

    As I see it, Obama is the lesser of all evils at this point. Find us a trustworthy woman into politics, lives a fairly clean life, has standards to live by and some moderate self control around money and power, and a lot of people would support them to the end.
    Hillary is not one of those people.
    Stop blaming the white guys for all the problems of the world. The problem is men, aggression, and testosterone. And I sense all of these traits in Hillary, then and now.

    January 28, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  8. Richard S

    They are just hurting their own cause...Troubling
    Last time I heard, everyone has the freedom to endorse whoever they want...

    January 28, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  9. Al

    Pathetic politics NOW...

    January 28, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. Ryan

    Leave it to an ULTRA LIBERAL, LEFTIST group like NOW to come up with an idiotic statement like this. Unfortunately for women across the country this group seems to think it speaks for all women in the United States, even the ones with reason and intelligence. The fact that they had to stoop to playing the gender card says alot about how poor a candidate Clinton really is.

    January 28, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  11. geoffgw

    It's all part of the Clinton plan to outsource their dirty work and drape their own quotes in cynical, sneaky poll-tested, boiler-room produced reference words and phrases to polarize the Dem voters into camps that make the electoral numbers work for Clinton. Believe me, the Clinton folks are working the phones to try to trash any major figure who endorses Obama. Kathleen Sebelius, look out, you were a fantastic female governor until you come out for Obama!!

    January 28, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  12. SavvyDoc

    Wow, so essentially it has come down to a vote for Obama is a vote against women a vote for Clinton is a vote against african-americans and a vote for Edwards is a vote against women and african-americans. Whats wrong with endorsing or voting for someone simply because you like them and their ideas!?!?

    Obama '08

    January 28, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  13. RonPaul


    January 28, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  14. San Francisco

    Is this how NOW wants to force a woman into the White House?

    Here's a different idea:

    Kathleen Sebelius (Governor of Kansas) for President. Anybody who's catching her Democratic response to the Clown in Chief has got to be impressed. Why would we want to force-feed Hillary to the country when there are rock-stars like Governor Sebelius in the wings (and she's only one of the superstar women on deck). By the way, Governor Sebelius truly does have experience running things–it's not just talk or experience through osmosis.

    January 28, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  15. YounMale

    Please don't be led by media exaggeration. Vote with your heart. I'm not supporting Clinton, but to be led off by a couple of people doing a disservice to an organization is no good. That's all there is to it.

    January 28, 2008 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  16. Sandra

    Oh, and isn't it interesting that when a feminist group raises the issue everyone says sexism, but when 80% of Obama's support in South Carolina came from African-Americans, everyone denied that race was a factor. At least NOW NY can admit its biases...the rest of you need to pull your heads out of the sand.

    January 28, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  17. Tom, Iowa

    It's not about men vs.woman or black vs white. How can people not get this? It's about the UNITED States of America. That is what Barack is about.

    January 28, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  18. Sherolyn

    To the New York State Chapter of NOW: I am a woman, and I am NOT offended by Ted Kennedy's support of Barak Obama. I don't feel "betrayed" in any way. PLEASE, give me a break. You're turning this into an issue it should NOT be about - sex and race.
    If your organization "hushed" the fact that Mr. Kennedy was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act, that is your cross to carry, not his. Shame on YOU, not him.
    This is about whom Mr. Kennedy thinks is best fitted to the job of being president. Sex or race should not come into play and he owes you no allegiance. Just because he has supported you as a womens' group, you can not expect him to support Hillary as a favor to you in return. If he doesn't feel she's the best candididate, so be it.

    January 28, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. Gene Brady

    Remember Ken Starr? Well Ken Starr has donated more money to the Clinton campaign than to all the republicans combined. That tells me all I need to know. Hillary IS one of "THEM".We, as a nation, desperately need change and there will be NO change with another Clinton.

    January 28, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  20. Henry

    So, now Americans have to vote for Hilary just because she's a woman ? Wowh !! this is really ridiculous and stupid !! So if men don't vote for her they are sexist, that's it ? Come on, this isn't the issue, the issue is to choose the best candidate who will be stronger and better to win the election against the Republican nominee (sounds to be Mc Cain). And what about all the women who don't want to vote for Hillary ? What are they ? Sexist just like Teddy Kennedy and other men ? A woman who does not want to vote for Hillary is also a racist against a woman like her ? Come on, that's dirty politics, trying to entertain voters and create emotion, just to make them vote for a woman who is not the right woman for this election and this duty, who's not ready for this job, not Hillary, certainly another woman but not Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  21. Gayle

    "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."

    All too true. Actually they left out the worst of it.

    "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)."

    That's a brilliant comment. Remember too that Ted Kennedy's main goal in life was to be President himself. I can only imagine how jealous he was to see a "hillbilly" like Bill Clinton take his crown–twice. Now imagine how he thinks of a lowly female getting it too!

    January 28, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  22. memphisbelle

    This is ridiculous. Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I have to vote for any woman who runs for office. We women are not a bunch of sheep to be herded. We are independent, intelligent human beings who can certainly use our brains to decide who will be the best president (Obama in my opinion) and not just vote for anyone with 2 X chromosomes.

    Boo to NOW-NY

    January 28, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  23. An intelligent voter

    The issue is not whether its time for a woman president, it may be that she is not the right one. It seems that Obama is the better choice that many people are noticing.

    When there is a viable woman candidate, whether a republican, democrat or whatever party she may be, if she is a qualified candidate that people are comfortable and believe she will lead the nation, then the people will stand by her and elect her as the first woman president.

    This is NOT about not backing Clinton because its seen as a man's job.

    January 28, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  24. Mike

    OBAMA is the ANTI-DYNASTY candidate! He says NO to political dynasties and the past. And yet, here he is getting endorsed by another dynasty from even further in the past.

    But then again, most of Obama's supporters are too young to understand this IRONY. Having grown up listening Alanis Morrissette, they believe irony is rain on your wedding day.

    January 28, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  25. john L Cerrato, Rockville Centre, NY

    Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Senator Obama is a liability. Obama wants a change from the past practices and now is endorsed by a past practioner. Kennedy also pins the "L" word to Obama which doesn't fare well across the country. Obama should of said thanks but no thanks.
    But it demonstrate how desperate Obama is on the eve of Super Tuesday, Feb 5th when 20 of the 22 States being contested will go for Hillary. Talk about a landslide, how about a tidal wave which will show that his support is with young people and Blacks and nothing else.

    Thank God, there are other Kennedy Folk that are with Hillary. I believe that Kennedy will not run again for Senator that's why he dissed the Clinton's, Women Organizations, and some Black Caucus Members. I think Kerry will find himself in the same fix as Kennedy.

    January 28, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
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