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. Ca Native

    What I enjoy most is watching the the split between Obama and Clinton bring out to light those ugly, hypocritical politics (normally reserved for Republicans) now being thrown at Obama & his supporters.

    NOW is calling Kennedy's endorsement of Obama a "betrayal"? So N.O.W. must be the ultimately "special interest" arm-twisting movement. They are essentially saying... because we backed you in the past – you are obligated to support Hillary – the woman, regardless whether you agree or disagree with her politics, campaigning, lies, etc. Do what we way or else!

    The truth about N.O.W. comes out.

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  2. Marilyn

    He should have remained neutral like the Clintons and every other democrat had asked.
    But it is clear Kennedy is jumping on the Bandwagon. It does seem like more like slap to Clinton than support of Obama

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. Marcus

    What absolute garbage! Anyone who supports a candidate based upon gender or race deserves what they get. Follow the issues. Check where they stand and how they voted. Look beyond the obvious to their character.

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. Kris

    the greatest betrayal from Kennedy to us women. the hell with the Democrats. My vote goes to the best candidate Hilary Clinton.

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. CoffeeBreak

    NOW of New York sure is kicking up a storm. Clinton surrogates have played the race card to lock in decisive defeat; let's see how much their references to gender will also weigh down their campaign in the heavy divisions of the past. Barack Obama is the best candidate there is for women–someone courageous enough to stand up to the president and resist the president's urge to send our men and woman, children of countless mothers, to shed their blood in a war that should never have been authorized is precisely the president that the women of this country need. Furthermore, it is a little troubling for NOW to impute negative motivations to Kennedy based on Barack Obama's gender. Women for Obama, get fired up!

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  6. Bryan, CA

    who cares about some stupid women's group? stop trying to devalue this endorsement.

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  7. George

    NOW's true colors are evident. This is why they have so little influence now, few people take them seriously.

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  8. David

    The NOW comments strike me as, well, hysterical.

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. Keith, Orlando Fl

    WOW, talk about reverse sexism. So if u dont support hillary, then your suddenly a woman-hater

    January 28, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  10. Matt in Denver

    I will not vote for somebody based upon their sex or race or religion. I will vote for somebody based upon their stand on issues, their plan of action, and their ability to inspire and bring together the entire country.

    January 28, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    A ridiculous comment from NOW.

    January 28, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  12. Mary (CA)

    I am a women and my vote is going to Obama. I would never base my vote off of somebodys gender or race. Anybody who votes for Hillary because she is a woman is a fool. She's running to put her husband back in office. So basically your voting for a man.

    January 28, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. Adam

    Really, NOW? Really?

    January 28, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. caywen

    To NOW, I say: "Oh please. Get a grip NOW!!"

    January 28, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. Adam, Los Angeles

    What an outrageous comment.
    I am a supporter of NOW, but for them to imply that Kennedy's endorsement was solely based on gender, is disgusting, and really serves to insult the very ideals that NOW stands for.

    They owe an apology. Not to Kennedy or Obama, but to their supporters who work to make sure there is gender equality in this country.

    January 28, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. Still Hoping Not To Be Moderated

    Well...if there is one thing those on the left can't tolerate it's tolerance of any view point other than their own.

    Apparently NOW considers voting for a candidate based on merit, not gender a betrayal. NOW does NOT care about women or their issues....only the beyond far left agenda. They have no room for men, even those who are minorities.

    Well...we can always count on those to the far left to "pants" themselves publicly.

    You GO girls!!!

    January 28, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. joe

    Kennedy is a looser. He could not beat Jimmy Carter in 1980. He endorsed Kerry in 2004 and look what happened. He wishes he could have been a fraction of the politicans that John and Bobby Kennedy were. Robert Kennedy Jr. is endorsing Hillary and so should you!


    January 28, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. Davis

    Perhaps Ted Kennedy is unwilling to go against his gut, and he knows as many Democrats, Independents and Republicans do, that if the Democrats are to have a ghost of a chance of winning the Presidency this year, it is Obama or no one. Certainly not Hillary Clinton. Yes she is experienced (although I am ambivalent about her counting 35 yrs.) but she will inevitably lose the general election as she walks in with too much history, much more alienating and polarizing history than John Kerry. So there you are.

    I'm glad that Sen. Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy Schlossberg and Rep. Kennedy have endorsed the greatest hope for this this country's future in a single human being. It is about the past vs. the future. May we proceed into the future with eyes open and hearts ready!

    Obama '08

    January 28, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. Dave

    Wow...I'd hate to see what these nut jobs think of any women who have endorsed Barack.

    January 28, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  20. I agree

    NOW says exactly what every woman is thinking.. et tu, Teddy ?

    His endorsement speech was basically blow after blow toward the Hillary Campaign, including using her slogan of "ready on day 1." So much for endorsing positivity!

    January 28, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  21. come on now

    excuse me for being blunt
    but are you freakin' KIDDING me?

    the only person ted kennedy, a man whose intelligence is unquestioned even by NOW, is obligated to endorse is the person that he absolutely believes would do the best job.

    an honest endorsement is not the repayment of a debt.
    if he thinks barack obama would be a better president, he is not "abandoning" the female race.

    i am a democrat who is ABSOLUTELY for equal rights, but that kind of rhetoric is ridiculous.

    January 28, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  22. Mauri

    Seems as though Hillary has come a long way before Bill even stepped in. Why did NOW wait for Ted Kennedy to endorse Obama before stating their backing of Hillary. We should be seeing more of this kind of action, not less. This woman is worthy.

    January 28, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  23. Jennifer, New York

    I am sick about of this idiots who think we outta vote for a person just because he is half black. that insults my intelligence, I vote for a person base on his/her credential, regardless of the Party affiliation.

    January 28, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  24. Cent Cal

    Great first the Clintons inject race now their supporters inject gender. Hillary runs best when she runs as herself and by herself. Let's hope that NOW can take aim at people who never support women and not people who are slow to act on their behalf.

    January 28, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  25. Maureen Harwood

    Race or gender should not play a role in choosing a candidate. And NOW's comments, as reported above, reflect poorly on the state chapter of that organization. Ultimate betrayal? Are we talking about an election or a soap opera?

    January 28, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
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