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. Jon

    Well that about does it. Now we should find a candidate who is a hermaphrodite with black, caucasian, asian, indian, polka dot, plaid, yellow, blue, and green in their ancestry. I hope I didn't forget any other group out there!


    January 28, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  2. Jeff Diatko

    Seems odd that just the NY chapter chose to chastise Sen. Kennedy. Why not his home state chapter? Why did the national organization steer clear? Did Hillary's people call and request the sexist statement from the NY chapter. If the neanderthals from NY believe that we should all vote for Hillary just because she's the first women, they belong in the stone age. The arguement doesn't hold water. The same people would want us to vote for Obama beacause he's the first viable black candidate. Being first is not good enough when it comes to being president. They call Obama "The new Guy". For a moment there I had forgotten about Hillary's extensive political experience gained from sleeping in the White House.

    January 28, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  3. Vincent

    Did you see the Stae of the union address, Obama looks like kennedy apprentice.....
    his endorsement will not change anything...

    January 28, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  4. patel

    now look who is sexist , when will these people realize its not about white/black man/women. why should he indorese her and not him. its about picking the best person to lead our contry. stop this nonsence about sex and race. forget all lets just worry about our contry

    January 28, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  5. Gerald in NYC

    Does anyone else find it ironic that Barack keeps calling for change but then embraces the support of someone who's been in politics for over 35 years? How is that change?

    January 28, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. Victoria, WV

    Senator Kennedy has the right to endorse whomever he wants for President.
    Hillary received the NOW national endorsement. That endorsement was well received...Nobody ever said this presidential race was going to be a clean sweep and decided on the basis of women... I'm sorry but I'm beginning to believe if Barack Obama was a horse of another color people wouldn't be so irate and emotional. Not every woman is going to vote for Hillary no more than any other woman/man that is White,Black, Indian, Hispanic,Latino,etc...that is registered to vote.
    I encourage you to be considerate and understanding of three possibilities
    and outcomes of this presidential race: 1)a first time ever a woman President ,
    2)the first time ever of an African American president, or 3) the dreadful thought of another Republican President. The latter would be disheartening at the lack of self education, and or common sense of realizing a potential "Win Win" situation...If Hill doesn't win the bid she can try again.
    Women have come a long way....Bra's were burned long time ago, albeit you have to be careful how you burn bridges.... "Biting off more than you can chew!Using your tonque(s) as a weapon! Just being blatantly disrespectful " at the expense of your viewpoint....If you can't handle fire get out of the heat!...Many women feel your pain! ...Many women feel your shame! ...God Bless America!
    Victoria – Huntington,WV

    January 28, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  7. dave McDougal

    Thank goodness for NOW. They tell the truth, Kennedy wants a male or no matter what race instead of a woman in the white house. Yes,, he betrayed his fellow americans and his party...............The fat man should goback tohis home state and retire and get out of sight.

    January 28, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  8. cadem22

    so distorting his record didn't work, then the race card didn't work, and now the gender card....third time is a charm

    January 28, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  9. Hill is Prez

    Hillary deserves to lead this country because she's the MOST QUALIFIED. She happens to be a woman, a former first lady and Bill Clinton's wife, all of which are nice bonuses. Go Hillary!

    January 28, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  10. George from Minneapolis

    who is ben nelson... lol

    January 28, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  11. Deb

    I think it is incorrect for a women's group to feel that a woman is best for the job of President, when in actuality gender or race should really not be the issue, but moreso the person's individual attitude, integrity, honesty, sincerity and ability to do the job.

    As a woman, I feel we need to vote for who 'we' feel is best for the job, and not vote for Clinton because she is a woman. I think this group should also realize that Kennedy should follow his own heart and back who he feels is the best person for the office.

    When we press our intentions and wishes on another – and forceably tell them it will be this way or there will be heck to pay – then we have to wonder, what exactly are their motives and what ever happened to the ability to 'vote with total freedom'?

    In the end, when we walk into the booth to make our decision, we should not feel as if our decision is that of others... because it should be our own. No pressure, no regret, no fear of consqeuences or ramifications...

    Just our honest belief that 'this' person, is who we feel, best fits the jobs requirements for the here and now.


    January 28, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  12. Lola


    January 28, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  13. Hawk,Texas

    I am a disabled veteran democrat, i can vote for a woman or a black. but i have spoken with several male democrats that have stated that they will not vote for a woman or a black. the gender and race bias is still out there.

    January 28, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  14. Beth

    ofcoarse all you Obama supporters are going to blame Hillary for this.. whuch she has nothing to do with

    January 28, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  15. safipa

    wow, how immature is that? grow up NOW

    January 28, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  16. Mike from L.I.

    Ted's just putting the trash out at the curb where it belongs.

    January 28, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  17. Donna

    Quite frankly, I'll vote for a Republican before I vote for Obama – who has almost no experience. And at 48 years old I don't believe I have ever voted for a Republican.

    By the way, I don't let others (Ted Kennedy, Unions, etc.) tell me who to vote for. No one else should either.

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  18. Mike N Louisiana

    OMG Are You Kidding me GO Obama I'm Proud Of What Mr. Ted Kennedy And Ms. Caroline Kennedy On Endorsing Mr Barack Obama. Shame On You Hillary For Using Bill For Your Attack Dog And I Feel Sorry For All You Clinton KOOL AID DRINKERS. The Clintons Are Old News We Need To Open A New Book With Mr. Barack Obama. And So What About Tony Rezko Bill And Hillrey Are Sure Not Prefect Themsevles I Would Stay Home If Hillery Wins The Nom. And That's A Fact. Take That Too The Bank My Friend.

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  19. Marilyn Bryan, Taylor, AR

    I feel sorry for anyone who bases their opinion and their vote on someone else's opinion. Have they no knowledge of how and where to search for truth or are
    they, like the media, just too lazy to do their homework?
    Whatever is this country coming to?
    Nothing good, unless people start using the same common sense, respect and fairness they would expect of others toward them.
    That goes for the media and both political parties.

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  20. CP

    Why isn't NOW questioning the ignorant and not always factual comments made by the husband of Hillary Clinton as hindering her as a viable and believable female candidate? If she has truly earned the privilege of winning the nomination on her experience, why in the world does she need an adulterous ex-President, who just happens to be her husband and who lied under oath about that one particular liason, next to her at this stage of the game? Why isn't NOW concerned that Hillary seems to be so dependent on her ex-President husband, the one who humiliated her more than once, to help her win the nomination?

    If her experience of being First Lady for eight years, having been cheated on for a lot of her marriage, having withstood the impeachment charges of her husband, having voted for the Iraq war in 2002 and defended her position on that up through 2005, and having been investigated for questionable real estate dealings which ultimately led to the deaths/suicides of many parties involved – just to name a few -has earned her the right to be President then I guess we ALL believe in fairy tales.

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  21. Nobama

    Obama's "Dream" talks will turn a nightmare on Feb 5. Ha ha ha!

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  22. Jackson

    I agree with the women. Actually, Hillary Clinton has worked with both Democrats and Republicans ... and actually got things done! ... wow! ... how surprising is that to Ted Kennedy!

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  23. sandra licona

    this is embarrasing for me personally being a woman.... so in other words the NOW is only voting for hillary to make their point across... that women can be president if they want to?.... so in toher words if hillary gets a black man as an enforcer ... should all black people be offended as well?... this whole thing is silly... kennedy saw in Obama what many people are seeing... the Hope and abition of a better tomorrow.

    This woman for OBAMA 2008

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  24. Radical Hippie

    Get Real!

    This isn't about men vs. women, black vs. red ... it's about the BEST PERSON for the job ...

    I am really worried that people and/or groups, (NOW, NAACP, etc.) will vote ONLY because of gender or race

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  25. Emily

    ^Ooops... "still NOT agree with them."

    January 28, 2008 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
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