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. Shannon

    Katy, you really need to step away from the kool-aid. I'd suggest you go read some position papers or browse a few of the candidates websites before you start blogging on a forum like this. It would help if people could determine for themselves who to vote for based on the issues. And, I do not consider race, gender, the names Clinton or Hussein, to be valid issues.

    January 28, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  2. ceemeenow

    Hey Joe–

    You sound very angry, I think there may be medication for that.

    January 28, 2008 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  3. Matt, Cleveland OH


    Name 3 instances where Sen. Clinton united Democrats and Republicans in NY.

    January 28, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  4. John

    Senatore Kennedy finally came to his senses and acknowledged that Obama is the the best canidate for the Presidency.

    January 28, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  5. Craig, Carrollton, TX

    Can we say that NOW !!!!

    January 28, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  6. Vincent, Tamaqua, Pa

    ya slam him.. he deserves it!

    January 28, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  7. Jane

    Once again, NOW has further distanced itself from mainstream American women and men who support gender equality and advancement based on the only factor that ultimately counts - merit. By choosing to respond as though women had been "betrayed" by Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama, NOW has reinforced its position in the very role it seeks to overcome - victim. It's time for NOW to MOVE ON.

    January 28, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  8. Latina from Texas

    As a woman, this is insulting! Am I supposed to vote for Hillary just because she's a woman? I'm all for a woman President – just not this one!

    Give me a break!

    January 28, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  9. Brian, Philadelphia

    The Kennedy set their sails by the winds of media. And, what are we to expect from a media that would attempt to boost rating by prying in to the untimely death of Heath Ledger, going in to detail on how he was found, etc. Even when the family begged for privacy they continued to ask questions. The fact of the matter is we have, with a few exceptions, a media without conscious, who are more concerned in covering sensationalized "stories" rather than the "news" from Iraq or each of the candidate's plans for the country.

    It is remarkable how Republican vitriol for the Clintons is contagious. Republican hyperventilation successfully magnifies personal issues that pale in comparison to the current administrations issues that have caused our country serious harm at home and abroad. It supercedes any discussion of policy issues and makes The Clintons the only issue. Even Democrats succumb. It is like The Force; it affects the weak minded of all political stripes.

    — Brian, Philadelphia

    January 28, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. Bob

    How ridiculously stupid do you have to be to reduce the situation to such black and white terms. It's radical, hyper-defensive viewpoints like this that make me think very little of the women's rights movement.

    January 28, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. Bobbi Carter

    It deeply saddens me that Senator Kennedy has endorsed BaracK Obama over distinguished Senator Hillary Clinton. It reflects his chauvinistic attitude that women are not as astute as their male counter-parts. Senator Clinton has earned her right to be "America's First Woman President.". Senator Clinton has displayed more intelligence and knowledge of foreign affairs than any of the candidates running for President . Women of America are deeply disappointed in Senator Kennedy's action. Stand up and be a real man, Senator! Are you so insecure that you can't back such an admirable woman candidate? This is the year for women and we plan to take full advantage of it.

    January 28, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  12. J.J. Forbes, an independent thinker

    This is probably the only time that I will agree with Ted Kennedy. But this time, he was right in not endorsing Hillary.

    Doesn't matter what NOW (or whatever it is) says.

    Forget it. How many women are truly represented by the NOW anyway?

    January 28, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  13. Aaron

    Wow. This is absolutely ridiculous. Of course, if one decides to fight fire with fire, then we'd have to conclude that NOW is nothing but a bunch of cross-burning Klanswomen. I seriously hope Hilary has the good sense to distance herself from these remarks. I'm not her biggest fan, but she deserves better than to have her campaign made to look like novelty by "supporters" like these.

    January 28, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  14. joanna


    Hillary Clinton married Bill for " better or worse". She was (is ) true to her vows which is more than I can say for so many so-called feminists. wish there were more women like her in keeping their marriage vows.! She is a woman I would vote for president of USA!

    January 28, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  15. John

    The comment by Now will ultimately be better for Obama than Kennedy's decision to choose Obama.

    Thank You NOW.

    January 28, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  16. Brendin

    Kate from New York,
    your said that Ted Kennedy's endorsement reveals his sexism, which ultimately derives from his Irish background. In algorithmic form, your statement is: Irish=sexist. That statement is pure racism.

    This kind of politics is the very thing Obama spoke against in his victory speech in South Carolina. We have let the establishment politicians draw the boundaries of their sad little ghettoized empires based on ridiculous conceptions of race, gender, and socioeconomic status for too long. These lines only serve to reinforce the careers of those who draw them (ostensibly to serve their now-isolated constituencies). Ultimately, these lines (Irish, black, Asian, Latino, etc) are constructed by people with an interest in retaining their own power. Like Obama said, we need to draw new lines; better lines, based on issues that matter. Is Hillary the "woman candidate," or is Obama "black" enough to be the "black" candidate? The correct answer to those questions is this: if you answer those questions with yes or no, either way, you are perpetuating the political lies that are oppressing true politics.

    January 28, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  17. Tyrese Gail Williams

    What would expect from a group of far left women who hate men and prefer sexual relationships with other women? Is this really such a surprise?

    January 28, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  18. Eric

    It is funny that in the statement NOW NY released they claim to have and I quote: ""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."

    So, once again such an agust organization is nothing but hypocritical. What else do they "hush" up?

    January 28, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  19. John

    Thank You Now, this is a great day for Obama supporters.

    January 28, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  20. James Brown ( Independent )

    I am thinking that this chapter of ( NOW ) needs a new leader.

    January 28, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  21. LT, Michigan

    Hooray. I read the article and honestly thought the comments would lamb baste Kennedy.
    I'm glad to see people actually thinking about this. Anti-women, maybe, but not because he didn't endorse Hillary Clinton. I'd vote for a deserving woman in a heart-beat. Hillary Clinton isn't her.

    January 28, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  22. Bill

    Some lesbian's that just hate men will never accept men till another lesbian is in the oval office .

    January 28, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  23. Chris

    It lowers the credibility of an organization like NOW to express sentiments of betrayal simply because Kennedy is supporting a male candidate. It is just as ridiculous as if he had supported Clinton and an African American organization had expressed feelings of betrayal.

    January 28, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  24. ropol, Wyo

    How NOW...give me a break!

    January 28, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  25. Elizabeth

    Toni Morrison and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius must be the most despicable traitors of all, turning their backs on their own gender... I will vote for a woman for president when there is a decent choice available to me. For now, I will vote for Obama. It would be great to see Sebelius as a vice president on the democratic ticket!!!

    January 28, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
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