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. Shey

    To Kate, New York, NY

    "in thinking about this, I would guess that even Caroline Kennedy would have a preference for a male president, since she was raised among the Kennedys."

    Just because Hillary is a woman....doesn't mean she is the best choice for a 'CANDIDATE'. Maybe.........just maybe.......that's it.

    too much 'uneducated guessing' going on around here.

    January 28, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  2. James

    this is unfortunate, if you don't have freedom to express your opinions because you are a guy, isn't that considered oppression? or does the door only swing one way? your vote shouldn't be based on sex or race, it should b based on the best candidate ... that's why I believe Hilliary should be president, not because she will be making history, but because she is best suited to be the president at this time, senator obama is a fine gentlemen, but he needs some more experience ... as for NY NOW, i really do think you ladies should reconsider your mission statement before attacking individuals

    January 28, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  3. notinthiscountry

    I would not hesitate to vote for the right person, be it female, male or minority. Billary has totally turned me inside out for all the wrong reasons. Mainly her tactics and that of her husband are shameful, whatever happened to let us not tear this party apart?

    January 28, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  4. Rob B


    January 28, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  5. Parke Stearns

    Two things bother me here. First is that this story was put up, and second, fear that people may think this group has some sense. This NOW group is nothing but garbage. They want Hillary in office only for they reason that she is a women, nothing from Iraq to social security to the economy has any bearing, just she is a women so that is all that matters. NOW and any person of their view is truly pathetic and by their own definition, "Sexist".

    January 28, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  6. Michelle

    This statement is like reverse discrimination. How single-minded to think Ted Kennedy is basing his endorsement on gender alone. NOW is truly not helping the cause they purport to support. Puhleez.

    January 28, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  7. Noelle

    I'm glad the national NOW office didn't support this ridiculous behavior. Someone needs to point out to whomever wrote that press release that supporting a female candidate only because she's female is just as sexist as refusing to support one for the same reason. The issues are what matter, not gender (OR race).

    January 28, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. David

    Simply ridiculous.

    January 28, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  9. Liz TN

    Barack, the new puppet for old politics...

    January 28, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  10. Mistress Koloth

    I thought that it was supposed to be for the best candidate, not gender or race? Hmmm..at least that is what I thought a President should be.

    January 28, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  11. Travis

    Food for thought–Hillary Clinton is a poor example of a "modern, progressive" woman. How sad that if she is elected president it will be in large part because she got there on her husband's coattails. She could have, and would have, done much better by leading her own campaign and keeping him in a supporting role. I want a woman to be president now, but I don't think Hillary's the right one for a lot of reasons, none of which have anything to do with her gender. And I deeply resent the notion that because I won't vote for her it's because I'm an insecure sexist. Women who agree with this NOW chapter's statement, as well as those who are voting for her strictly because of her gender, are doing a great disservice to their cause. Sad.

    January 28, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  12. Dee

    What a bunch of idiots. It isn't and SHOULDN'T be about race or gender. Its about picking the best candidate for president. NEWSFLASH: There are alot of women who would vote for Obama. Me included.

    January 28, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  13. dt

    Can CNN dig up another lobby group's 2 cents? This 'reporter' made a hit piece, nothing more.

    January 28, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  14. non american

    I can't believe this is how the American politics works. So much focus is placed on a candidate's race, gender and religion. What is wrong with you people? Shouldn't you be more worried about choosing a strong and competent leader instead??

    January 28, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  15. Kwame, Tulsa, Oklahoma

    This is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Everyone knows that Kennedy was on the fence until Bill Clinton start making his attacks. To state that Kennedy voted against her because she is a woman is like saying everyone supports Hilary because Barack is black. Neither is true! As a matter of fact he said that he would support her should she win the nomination. If anything this hurts the Hilary campaign because its playing the gender card. I think it would be smart for the Clintons to come out against that statement. But then again it may not be needed because I don't think anyone (well hardly anyone) takes it seriously. What a joke.

    Any Democrat (hopefully Obama) 08

    January 28, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  16. Kathy

    I suppose since I am a woman who supports Obama because I'm inspired by his vision and I support his policies, I have betrayed myself. Oops.

    January 28, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  17. Joe

    As a male-democrat (or at this poitn in politics; independent), I wouldn't mind a woman president at all. My only question is why must it be HIllary? Haven't people grown tired of complacancy? Bush Sr. VP under Reagan (8 yrs), Bush Sr., President (4 yrs), Bill Clinton, President (8 Years), Bush Jr., President (8 yrs). Twenty-eight years of Bush and Clinton isn't enough. While I am not completely sold on Obama just yet, he is right about needing change in that office. I liked Bill Clinton, but I couldn't stand Hillary. Why did she have to be the woman running for President. Granted I don't know who else you would have gotten, but why? Much liek Bush, why did it have to be George W.? Why couldn't it have been Jeb? At least he has a brain in-between his ears.

    January 28, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  18. ILoveAmerica

    Of course it's a bit disappointing that Ted Kennedy failed to take the opportunity to endorse a lady for President. But, for Pete's sake – let's not talk about the guy as if he had driven a lady off a bridge!

    January 28, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  19. Pier Giacalone, NYC

    Once again, the far left wing self-immolates while a militaristic, anti-choice, safety-net gutting republican gets elected.

    Those who are concerned about the reality on the ground for the millions of Americans without healthcare, housing or a decent education or a livable wage remember who actually achieved real improvements in these areas.

    Kennedy is in lock-step with Rush Limbaugh in spinning the Clinton Presidency and attempting to obscure the real good that was accomplished by the Clinton Presidency. They refuse to acknowledge that a Hillary Presidency would be different both as result of what she has learned and the fact that she is a different person living in a different time.

    George Bush has shown just how bad republican policies are for the country and the world. Some of the more obvious lessons from his tax-cuts for the wealthy and trickle-down economics get lost amid his imperial schemes. John McCain comes bearing the same game plan, promising to make the Bush tax cuts permanent AND cut social spending (and it will be social spending cuts, not military, under McCain). A McCain presidency has every likelihood of being as disastrous for the country as Bush. Hillary Clinton's current proposals and her Senate record as well as Bill Clinton's legacy all stand in stark opposition to this approach to governing.

    More than vague optimism will be required to correct what Bush and Cheney have made so wrong in this country. The media's unfortunate injection of race into the SC primary not withstanding, the people who's lives will be affected the most by another republican in the White House are solidly behind Hillary because unlike so much of the liberal intelligentsia, we can't afford to be wrong.

    — tip of the hat to: Pier Giacalone, NYC

    January 28, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  20. Dave

    NOW's position is completely unreasonable. To insist he has to endorse a woman to prove he supports women's rights is wrong. No, wait...it's actually stupid.

    January 28, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  21. Sean McM

    Opportunity knocks.....Obama blasts the Congress until they join him!!!

    Powerful Dems are flocking to him because they will have the chance to pull his inexperienced strings!!!!

    The same Dems would NOT be able to pull Hillary's strings as she doesn't have any!

    January 28, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  22. JH

    I am a woman and I say what the heck? Just because you are woman doesn't automatically make you the best candidate for the presidency. I am not a fan of Ted Kennedy at all, but at least he is backing the candidate that he thinks is best suited for the job. Your organization would have more credibility if you did the same, rather than just backing the woman candidate just because she is a woman.

    January 28, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  23. Peggy

    I can not believe NOW is claiming Kennedy's support of Obama is a purposful rejection of woment is rediculious. When it comes to a President, each of us should support the very best prospect. I, also a female, agree that Mr. Obama is the best candidate at this time. I have no problem voting for a woman for President, but Hillary would never be my choice.

    I think NOW needs to step back and really look at the candidates not the gender.
    How dare them.

    January 28, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  24. kdc

    hey, charles–that's BILLl nelson from florida (for the record, ben nelson from nebraska, a conservative dem, endorsed obama, as many prominent dem senators are now doing)

    January 28, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  25. brian Clarke

    Women's rights are important to any thinking individual. We need more of the female influence in our world. Still I think this election is about America's best interests at this moment. To frame Kennedy's support of Obama as simply a betrayal of women's rights is supremely over simplified. Obama is clearly in the lineage of the Kennedy philosophy and it would seem odd for him not to support Obama. Unlike most election choices this one is not the lesser of two evils.

    January 28, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
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