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. Drew

    If Hillary is so competent and the Idol of women leaders, then why can she not run on her own record and without the lift that her husband is giving her? If her statement about MLK that it took a president to get the job done is accurate by her standings then how ironic then is it that it takes a man (her husband) to get her elected. Give us a break Hillary. The sexism stunt worked in New Hampshire but not this time. This is not about women vs men, this is all about Hillary, and I am sorry but she is not the best role model for women to look up to.

    January 28, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  2. Claustro

    Hey Nikki! You listening? Probably not, but if by chance: How about YOU be a role model for your children and stop looking to people YOU DO NOT KNOW to do that for you? The responsibility is YOURS for their morality, not Hollywood, not musicians and NOT politicians. *freaking shakes head*

    January 28, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  3. J.K.

    If you ever wanted to see someone blinded by their own gender, look NOW.

    I generally support the organization, but this is just pathetic..

    January 28, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  4. Leah

    It's ridiculous to expect women to vote for Hillary just because of gender!!!! and then accuse anyone that doesn't vote for Hillary as betraying women! how absurd!!

    I'm over 50 and a woman, but am not voting for Hillary because she is female!! I'm voting for whoever I think the best candidate is !!!! Enough of the Clinton camp playing the race and gender card and good cop/bad cop!!! get real people !!

    January 28, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. Josh

    WOW how does NOW want to be taken serious? This is actually quite funny and most Americans won't even hear about this, Thank God!

    January 28, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  6. opinion25222

    I guess since I'm a woman I have to vote for Hillary our I'll betray all women.

    January 28, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  7. wallopinwill

    The Kenneys argue Democrates “will sacrifice . . change… [and] be mired in deja 1990s all over again” as if this were a bad thing: fiscal responsibility, budget surpluses, an effort, led by Vice-President Gore, to make the government more efficient, efforts to find the middle ground of expanded trade with reasonable environmental and labor safeguards. If we must be mired in something, the 1990s does not sound too bad.

    Should we want Bill to fade away? The post-presidential efforts of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, another Democratic President successfully maligned, represent the type of constructive problem solving that should make us proud. Sadly, it is an image of America buried amid the bellicosity of our actions and our discourse.

    — credit to: Brian, Philadelphia

    January 28, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  8. B Levine

    Would I love to see Hillary as President? You bet. Will it happen? Nope. Why? Simple: Her negatives are so high that John McCain will trounce her in the general election. Even Romney would stand a good chance of beating her.

    Obama, on the other hand, will win...and handily. Very few negatives. He just has to convince people he'll do a good job (rather than Hillary having to convince people to forget the reasons why they hate her).

    It's time for NOW to stop being Hillary's lapdog simply because she's a woman. Her gender has nothing to do with this decision. It's because she's a Clinton...and she's not Bill and this is not 1992 so get real and stop lobbying for someone who will manage to lose the election to a grey, old, arthritic white man who even the evangelicals despise.

    January 28, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  9. Ray

    Rival Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama came within a foot of each other just before President Bush's State of the Union speech Monday night and managed not to acknowledge each other, and certainly not touch.

    Clinton, clad in scarlet, crossed the aisle between their seats on the House floor and reached out a hand to greet Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Democratic icon whose endorsement she had courted only to lose it to Obama.

    Kennedy shook her hand while Obama, wearing a dark suit and standing between the two, turned away.

    NICE Obama..NICE..Grow up man or should I say baby!

    January 28, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  10. Tony Shin

    I think that reasonable people can support either/both Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton. It's unfortunate that Sen. Clinton has to deal with the social inertia of misogyny, and that Sen. Obama has to deal with racism. I'm from Hawaii, and I support Sen. Obama, but I wouldn't want people from Hawaii to support anyone unthinkingly. I don't think either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama would want their supporters to make this mistake either. I wonder if NOW rebuked Bill Clinton for overshadowing Hillary. That's where the real tragedy lies.

    I didn't like the vaguely racist tones that seemed to find its way into some of the remarks that both Clintons made about Obama's campaign, and I'm glad that Obama tried not to get bogged down in it. I'm also glad that he spoke positively about the reference to Jesse Jackson. I don't think it was purely tactical, because he probably feels grateful for both Jesse Jackson and Bill Clinton, regardless of what shortcomings they may have, because both of them played prominent roles in advancing the interests of minority groups including but not limited to african-americans (not to mention Kansan/Kenyans from Hawaii).

    I feel a certain kinship with Barack Obama since I am ancestrally Korean but was born and grew up mostly in Hawaii, and now I'm studying in New York where I know what it's like to feel that I'm being viewed and judged as an "(East) Asian-American" but simultaneously like I'm an outsider to the hardships that my ancestrally East Asian peers faced growing up in other parts of the U.S.

    Moses said that if he can lead his followers into the promised land, someone else can just as easily lead them back out of it.

    January 28, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  11. Andrew Kenneth

    In all honesty this pro choice NY feminist group are doing a disservice to the candidacy of HRC by being sexist.
    I think they should have double checked with her first before they came out with this 'verbal diarrhea'

    January 28, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. Aysha Patel

    Trust CNN to run this story and stoke the flames even further. If he'd backed Hillary, CNN and other web sites would be calling Kennedy a racist. Why don't you people just grow up and give us the stories that really matter, rather than just opinionated hearsay?

    January 28, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  13. Kathy

    Who cares what Kennedy or his family says. They are a relic of the 60s and have lost their influence over the American people.

    January 28, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. james cooper

    I am glad that Sen Clinton did not make comments with Anderson Cooper tonight, because of CNN's bias

    January 28, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  15. sarah

    The only impression this article left on me is that NY-NOW must hire the most poorly educated, narrow minded, unimaginitive women it can find.

    It's been said before – but it's absurd that this organization has suggested that people should vote for Clinton simply becaused she's a woman – with no consideration of her character, agenda, or abilities.

    To do so would be ignorant, foolish, and incredibly irrational. It seems to me, those are all descriptions women have worked a long time to shed. Women worked hard for the right to vote – we should use it wisely.

    Furthermore – In my opinion, what our country needs now is for people to put aside their obsessions with their individual "issues" and "agendas", and pick a candidate that has the integrity and guts to restore this country. It's time for a president who gives a State of the Union – and actually tells us what the state of the union is – even if it's ugly. No more of this painting rosy pictures to save face, bolster legacies, and make us all feel better about our lousy perdicaments.

    I have no idea who that candidate is. But I know it's time to stop looking at superficial things like party, gender, and race, and start picking people who are going to us some good – ALL of us.

    January 28, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  16. Maggie

    Wow, this is the dumbest article I’ve read since that article on how Japanese anime is trying to brain wash the youth of America!!! The candidates' opinions and views on the issues should be more important than their race and gender!!! Ggrrr...Maybe Kennedy just thought Obama was a better candidate. Ever thought of that?!

    In The National Organization for Women's 1966 Statement of Purpose the following statements are made-

    The purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.

    WE DO NOT ACCEPT the token appointment of a few women to high-level positions in government and industry as a substitute for serious continuing effort to recruit and advance women according to their individual abilities.

    Expecting people to support Hillary Clinton over any male candidate by virtue of her gender and to criticize differing opinions or endorsements they are expecting us to ignore equal partnership and individual abilities reducing her candidacy to token appointment.

    January 28, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  17. HuckabeeBaby!

    Okay, libtards. Keep on bickering while my party comes up with ideas. We will each do what we do best.

    Huckabee 08!

    January 28, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  18. Patty B.

    Oh, I'm sorry. I misunderstood – I thought that we had freedom to vote for whomever we thought was most qualified for the job.

    January 28, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  19. Linda R. in W'bridge, VA

    Where have you gone Al Gore..........we need you. Come back to us..........

    P.S. – Ted Kennedy sold his soul for the VP slot.............................

    January 28, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  20. wandering i

    If you read the statement, I mean... READ... the statement, I think it's pretty clear that they felt betrayed because he didn't stay neutral until after the primaries, instead of choosing sides DURING the primaries.

    January 28, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  21. Dave

    A week ago NOW-NYS said that Senator Clinton was being "gang raped" by "men who are afraid of a powerful woman." I didn't make that up, it's word-for-word out of their press release, signed by their Chapter president.

    Time for new leadership at THAT chapter...

    January 28, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  22. Mike, Fox River Grove, IL

    I can't believe I just read what I did. NOW NY is clearly out of touch with reality to the nth degree. Kennedy endorsed Obama because of who he is, not his sex. Has anyone from NOW NY actually looked at or listened to Hillary lately? I'm sorry, I once had respect for the woman years ago, but she has become a bigoted and bitter person using smear and racial attacks to advance her position.

    Let's go a step further NOW NY. Hillary, who was running a strong campaign at the beginning, but then started to lose to Obama had to call in her *husband* to help her run. Think about that NOW. Think about the fact that the woman you're endorsing for President of the USA felt so inadequate that she couldn't even run her own campaign without her husband! THAT is the betrayal, not Kennedy endorsing Obama.

    You people really need to take another look at Hillary Clinton and just who she is, as it clearly isn't a woman running for the Presidency but rather a woman AND her husband.

    January 28, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  23. Jeff, Miami, Fl

    whatever you say people, but you've got to start practicing out loud 'Madame President'.
    Hillary will win because of her personal strength, and at the end the media and the keneddys will be left with a black eye!
    Tomorrow is a wake up call!

    January 28, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  24. Liz

    The males of the older generation Kennedys are really not used to see women as intellectually or professionally equals worthy of respect. So it is not surprising at all he would rush to oppose a woman presidency.

    January 28, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  25. Earth Mother

    What an interesting conversation. I too was surprised that NOW would make such an extreme sexist accusation at Sen. Kennedy. I too would love to have a woman president. Or a black president. Either would be a breakthrough for our country, But in the long run it matters who can carry the ball and unite the country. Who can inspire our nation and our world to change the current couse of destruction and animosity that exists.
    It has always made me sad that Hillary is so maligned. She is an absolutely capable and brilliant person. I have great admiration for her, but the mood of the Clinton campaign in the recent week has indicated that she and her co-president Bill are not about unity at all but about their own victory.
    Barak Obama excites people and inspires people. He too is brilliant and has brought himself up through the ranks to this pivotal point today.
    May the best man or woman become our next president. I personally hope it is Obama.

    January 28, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
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