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. MB

    Seriously- how is endorsing Obama, a feminist by the way, betraying women??

    Guess any blacks not endorsing Obama are traitors as well.
    And oh my, what to do if you're a black woman- may as well vote for Edwards – whatever you do though, according to NOW, don't vote based on actual issues or things that MATTER- which to those of you that are not paying attention (that would be you NOW) – is NOT gender or race.

    Good grief.

    January 28, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  2. Cesaria

    First Roseanne and now this. The Clinton camp betwen BET's founder has a whole lot of 'character' types supporting her bid. How sexist and plain stupid to view this endorsement as a betrayal. Totally uncalled for and seriously on the stupid side but I expect nothing of some in the so called feminist movement.

    January 28, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  3. Jerome


    January 28, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  4. Tyler, SC

    I think it is important to emphasize that the National NOW chapter has supported Kennedy's right to take this action, which is the voice of the overall group. I think it is dispicable that this particular branch of NOW has taken this action of trying to say simply because a woman is running that those who do not support her must be sexist. It is irresponsible to their gender and also to their organization as a whole.

    January 28, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  5. kim

    Has anyone thought about the similiarities between Obama and JFK. There are quite a few parallels between the two. Obama has charisma, youth, and is an idealist; much like JFK had in his day. Maybe Teddy is thinking of his brother.
    I also don't understand why I should vote for Billary based on gender, and I refuse to feel bad about it. I am voting for the best person, regardless of age, gender, race or religon.

    January 28, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  6. Mike C

    morrow – how is Hilary Clinton qualified to be President?

    Shes never run a business, never run a city, never run a state, and never run a country!

    The U.S. have been looking for WMD for less time than it took Hilary to find the Rose Law Firm billing records!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  7. Tina

    I WAS going to vote for Obama, now that TED KENNEDY is endorsing him, I think I'll vote for Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  8. COME ON

    are you serious NOW?
    just becuase you cant understand why someone wouldnt like Hilary, doesnt you have to go attacking someones charrachter.

    January 28, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  9. Ann Kuminns

    All you strong and powerful women, this is your time to opt out of NOW or boycott it altogether. I am a strong woman who can make my own decisions and will not be pressured by anyone, including NOW, to vote for whom they endorse. I will decide what is best for our country and the future of all Americans. I will vote for the best candidate, regardless of GENDER, COLOR AND CREED. Empowering women means just that -empower. Trying to foist your own beliefs on all women is equal to diminishing them and their role. What Bill has done in the last weeks had dimiinish Hillary and her role as tremendously. NOW is trying to do exactly the same thing. We are adult enough to fight our own fight. So back off, NOW and let us empower ourselves.

    January 28, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  10. Linda Montgomery

    I emailed the contact address given on the source web site and told the author that she had set women back 100 years! A LIBERATED woman can CHOOSE who to vote for, no matter the sex.

    They would be furious if a men's organization told men they were betraying a candidate if they didn't vote for a man.

    I am an older, white woman, but am voting for Obama (who respects women and their rights) because he is the best person due to his integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness.

    A lot of women possess those qualities also, but not Hillary. If we vote in the wrong woman, it will set women's chances back because then people will say "rememember the last time we elected a woman..." I would love to see a woman president someday, but I am willing to wait for the right one. This year, I strongly feel that Obama is the right one and am intelligent and independent enough to follow through with MY feelings. I am proud to say my daughter is also independent and thinks for herself also.

    January 28, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  11. Jesse

    These comments are outrageous and unwarranted. The level of entitlement coming out of the Clinton camp is one of the main reasons so many young people like me are supporting Barack.

    January 28, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  12. get real

    Cut me a flippin break. How far into the sublimely ridiculous are we going to venture during this election process???


    Man, if that's all ya got......ya might think about disbanding and going home.

    It would be funny.......but somehow I think they mean it.

    January 28, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  13. Den

    Will someone please tell me why Sen. Clinton is routinely referred to as "Hillary," yet Sen. Obama is referred to by his last name? I for one would like to see the same measure of respect that is given to one candidate given to the others as well, and one way to accomplish that is to have some consistency in the use of their names.

    Oh, and concerning the Kennedy family's endorsement of Sen. Obama, the notion that it was somehow gender-related is so goofy that I don't think it even warrants a rebuttal. Come on, NOW-NY–do you _really_ believe that's why the endorsement was given to whom it was?

    January 28, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  14. jean favreau

    I am very upset about his support to obama but I think he always disrespect ed women in his life. He should stayed neutral.

    January 28, 2008 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  15. Peggy McLean VA

    Oh, give me a break. Barack Obama's candidacy transcends race, and in doing so, transcends gender. I'm a 67 year old woman who feels that his character and sensitivity is much closer to mine than Hillary's. Thank you, Sen. Kennedy!!!!

    January 28, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  16. vinaay

    What a stupid statement! Do we need to support Hillary because she is woman? Do we have to support her even if you don't agree with her stands and policies? Some thing basically wrong with organization to give such a absurd statements. One should support right candidate whether it is a woman or man, black or white! Ted Kennedy has every right to support Obama. Obama is a kind of leader, America needs at this point.

    January 28, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  17. Tom Wittmann

    Is what these women doing not exactly the same what the Clintons accuse the
    black community to do re: Obama, endorsing Hillary because she is a woman ??

    And the inmature reaction of NOW NY only deliver arms to the machos which
    think that women are not qualifid for high positions as the Presidency.
    Which obviosly is not so, see only Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir
    between other.
    But also obviously none of these were riding on the coattails of their husbands !!

    And why they accuse TED KENNEDY of betrayal, only because he perceives that
    Hillary is a front for the wild ambition of Bill and if nominated, would hand over the
    Presidency to the republicans ??


    January 28, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  18. True Democrat

    That's shameful that they'd release such a statement.

    Are they suggesting that a vote against Clinton is a vote against women? Are they suggesting that Kennedy snubbed Clinton and supported Obama because he's a man? That he and/or Obama are somehow misogynistic or united against women? Are they suggesting that women should only vote for Clinton, or, worse yet, that any of us should only vote within the boundaries of our special interests or demographics?

    Just nonsense. Absolute nonsense. They've set back their own efforts and made a mockery of their own organization with this statement.

    January 28, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  19. wallopinwill

    The fact is, JFK was an ineffectual President, who had trouble keeping his pants zipped up. There is little reason to believe he'd have accomplished anything, had he lived. His brother, RFK had a very troubling history with respect to fomenting anti-communist hysteria early in his career. His views on Vietnam were rather inconsistent from one year to the next. These people are not the gurus they'd like you to believe.

    Personally, I'd rather hear about the Clintons playing sex games while swinging from the chandeliers in the White House than hear about anymore Kennedy boys killing young girls during drunken carousing.

    January 28, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  20. Angie

    I am a female, over 60, liberal, Democrat and feminist. My IQ is in triple digits and I vote. Months ago I began supporting Barack Obama because he brought vision, hope and inspiration. I cannot, will not and never will support Billary. It amazes me that NOW ( I will be a former member) supports a woman for president who "whines" when the boys allegedly pick on her. Then, aims her nasty barb towards her opponent's testicles all the while playing the victim card. On top of that she has her husband, a former president, be the attack dog. Get over yourself, Billary. You are not entitled, this isn't a coronation and you have, do and will say and do anything to get elected.

    January 28, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  21. Jake

    Off topic but I find it interesting how all the Hillary supporters cry about the media coverage recently. "Obama this, Obama that" they say. Clinton has been receiving the most airtime and finallly when Obama gets some airtime the Clinton supporters feel that he's getting all the airtime.
    Fact is Clinton gets 25% of the media coverage and Obama gets 16%. So suck on those facts.
    Another thing, CNN why are you allowing people to say that the people of SC and people like Toni Morrison only support Obama because he's black? These comments are deemed appropriate?

    January 28, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. Nanc

    As for how much Ted Kennedy has supported women, some of you have forgotten an incident that shows exactly how important he felt women were. If you're too young to remember it was called Chappaquidick, and the woman (who died) was Mary Jo Kopechne. A woman's life came pretty cheap back then. I'm so tired of everyone talking like Obama is the second coming. He can hope all he wants, delivering is another thing. I've been waiting over 30 years for a woman president and I think Hillary can do it. She'll be able to stand up to old Teddie, Obama will be in debt to him.

    January 28, 2008 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  23. eleanor coleman

    ted kennedy you have disgraced the kennedy name jfk would not have turned his back on the clintons i think you should retire and stay home

    shame on you nora from youngstown ohio

    January 28, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  24. Ralph B.

    Anybody that votes for a candidate just because she is a woman is a moron and should not have a vote. The same for anyone who votes for a black just because he is black, or a white man or woman, just because that person is white, or any other shallow reason, should be stripped of the right to vote.

    That's why this country is as screwed up as it is - because people don't vote intelligently for the best person to fill the job.

    January 28, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. aj ,san francisco, ca

    How can NOW expect to be taken seriously, how can they feel they are furthering the cause of women's rights, to say that because someone doesn't support the one female candidate, they are betraying women?

    I don't want ANYONE to be president just because of their race OR their gender, but as a woman I especially don't want a woman elected – or even endorsed – for being a woman. It reflects poorly on my accomplishments and merits, and those of all other women in politics or the workforce.

    Shame on NOW.

    January 28, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
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