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. omar

    Until today I had a great respect for Sen. Kennedy. No doubt that he is a respected politician and so is John Kerry. But, both these senator's have lost my respect. Even if they wanted to support Obama, they could have waited until it was clear that Obama would be the nominee.

    I have not changed my mind for Hillary. Go Hillary.. You are going to make it. Let the pack cry foul...

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  2. ash

    Are these all big names backing "Mr. O" thinking that they will be able to manipulate him?

    After South Carolina's primary and with my experience in Africa I can safely say, It is Hillary all the way now.

    More finished politicians and "favor seeking (wo)men" and with personal agendas to fulfil backing Obama, he is set to lose now.

    See the backlash coming on 5th february and thereafter.

    Oprah, Kerry and Kennedy will see the "reverse effect" of their actions.

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  3. Jordan



    Kennedy or NO Kennedy – we will WIN!!!

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  4. JustMe

    What a ridiculous statement. Just because you don't endorse Hillary, you are labeled as anti-women. That is so wrong! This just shows NOW is bigoted and close-minded. It doesn't occur to them that people actually have independent reasons to be pro Obama and not in favor of Hillary. They have no decency!

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  5. D. Lehmann

    I guess there comes a time for us all to retire..Take the HINT TED.....No one person can change anything, lrast of all a newbie like Barrack.....Perhaps it's time I voted for the other party after your senile commnet and alleged backing

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  6. Linda R. in W'bridge, VA

    Obama has no experience........7 years in elected office. Four of those years in the state senate in Illinois.

    Today Ted Kennedy sold his soul to be VP..................

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  7. S.Ang

    Hmm. I think the Obama camp are worried about losing and that is why Ted Kennedy is endorsing him before Super Tuesday. He knows that Hillary will win if he doesn't do something drastic. I hope that the latino community will not be bullied into voting for a candidate they don't want.
    And isn't it interesting that the majority of white males do not like Hillary, the majority of black voters like Obama. So, don't say this race isn't about race or gender becuase it is! My vote goes to Hillary because she is a dedicated public servant who will get this country on the right track. Obama is all show. There is no substance to him. He talks about change, but noone asks him what specifically he means by that. It is all rhetoric with him.
    It's so obvious how the media is doing so much Hillary bashing and distorting what her husband says. Isn't the media run predominantly by white males?

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  8. Rob

    NOW still exists? Wha? Not sure what Ultra Liberal means... I'd prefer to call them silly. Giving them liberal status gives them relevance.

    January 28, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  9. anitayb

    Let me just say this: Folks, it's apparent the journalist want to push Obama on us just by watching the news, reading the newspapers, and reading these blogs. If Edwards would drop out of the race then perhaps Hillary could finally put some possitive numbers against Obama. Right now, Hillary and Edwards are splitting the "white" vote. If anyone out there thinks the polls aren't running along racial lines, then they need to wake up.

    This is very racial, obviously! Most african americans will admit the fact they are voting for Obama because they feel it's time for a black president. I personally have no problem that Obama is black, I truly feel he's not the right person for President at this time. Obama can give some wonderful, inspirational speaches, I give him that, but a President has to be MORE than speaches, he/she MUST be able to run this country.

    Edwards, please step down, you aren't getting the votes, stop splitting the votes between you and Hillary. You aren't going to catch up to Obama, or Clinton in votes. Go ahead and drop out, and maybe Hillary will have you as Vice President!

    January 28, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. Sherry

    Why is Hillary so reviled? We as women are the fabric that holds this country together. Men in general, have deserted us, our children and our parents. We raised those men, coddled them, and stood behind them. Hillary has put up with all of their ribald jokes, attacks on her credibility, and their boiler room approach to the issues that this country faces. I see men who have worked in the senate against Hillary, why? I see men who have ran for president and lost, against her. I see great women of our time, against Hillary. I see Democrats who have never supported anyone, but the party’s nominee, against Hillary. We as women are afraid to say these things and I ask myself why. Never, in the history of a presidential race has the way someone looked had so much more import, than the way that person thinks. Her desire to be president is no more self serving than other nominees. I am tired of hearing, because he dares to give her what she gave him (loyalty), he is tainting his legacy. She has put forth real solutions to the economy, the war in Iraq, healthcare etc. She knows the nuances of her solutions and she gives details. The other candidates have no answer to Hillary’s real solutions, her intellect and her ability to stay on point in the face of such adversity. We will elect a woman for president. If this woman is not qualified, then, no woman ever will be. She is known all over the world. She has to be twice as good as all the other candidates and she is.

    January 28, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  11. Al

    Give me a break! He didn't endorse Hilary and now he is against women? What next, if NOW does not support Obama, are they against colored people? Give me a break!

    January 28, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  12. Jim

    I'm glad that the national chapter distanced themselves from these comments.

    January 28, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  13. Tom Wittmann

    I repeat this comment, as it did not appear !!

    NOW has delivered a fatal blow to the bi-cephalus Clinton, much more so than
    TED KENNEDY endorsement, by opening the eyes to many upto now Clinton supporters


    January 28, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  14. john/canada

    The emotions that the statement by now has elicited is indicating that it may have hit the mark. I can not vote, but certainly the comments made by pundits about Clinton i.e. they seem more interested in her dress, make-up, hair style, body type etc. than her intelligence. If she happens to get emotional she is suddenly faking it–they don't want a woman who could suddenly become hysterical in a crisis! right? Or of course a woman that shows empathy for anyone. If she is too controlled then she is a robot (what I think they want to say is a b__l buster). They continue to patronize her. On the other hand any similar comments toward Obama would automatically be considered racist. In other words sexism is more acceptable than racism. I like Obama but unfortunately he appears to be mouthing words of a speech writer who offers bags full of slogans for easy digestion. What in the world is Change? that he continues to repeat over and over again. As for Mr. Kennedy I think this is an opportunity to be noticed by referring to his long dead brother that was in power for a couple of years. I guess it's his chance to reinforce the myth, that he himself considers a part of.

    January 28, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  15. Emma

    Right now I am a little bit ashamed for being a democrat. When Senator Kennedy endorsed Obama because President Clinton would not tone it down or Carolyn Kennedy endorsed Obama because her children made her realize that he was the one, that does not say much for the Kennedy’s and democratic politicians who do the same. You endorse someone because they are the person you think can do the job not to punish another candidate. It would be sad if people vote for a candidate for the same reasons the Kennedy’s endorse a candidate. And for Senator Obama he should not feel so proud because he was not endorsed for being the best candidate for the job.

    January 28, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  16. Steve, NYC, NY

    It's funny how the old stewards of politics, the Kennedys, the status-quos, the politicians of the old ways, is endorsing a candidate that is using a platform of CHANGE. The KENNEDYs change? I think NOT. Neither is Obama.

    January 28, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  17. Eric

    Hilary Clinton's significance as a woman in this race is overshadowed by the history of status-quo big business politics that the Clintons and the Bushes have embraced for the past 16 years.

    Down to political dynasties in supposedly democratic systems!

    January 28, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  18. CCLady

    I would LOVE to vote for a qualified woman as President. Hillary Rodham Clinton is not. The only "experience" she has is entirely due to being Mrs. Clinton. Does anyone really think Hillary Rodham would be the Senator from New York? Does anyone really think Hillary Rodham would have been invited to attend the meetings of world leaders? Does her voting record qualify her to run as a representative of the Democratic Party? The only ones who would be worse would be the Republicrats – Feinstein and Lieberman.

    When a woman finally does become President, I hope she will have won on her own merits.

    January 28, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  19. Ki-Jana Carter

    Here come the feminazis to ruin the general election for all democrats. Way to go NOW, you are a pathetic waste of time.

    January 28, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  20. Tamika

    Get over it already.
    Barack is simply the better choice.
    He represents what we can accomplish, when we focus on what is important and unite as a nation.
    In order to prosper as a nation, we must truely be united and work together .
    Barack has the ability to inspire this great dream and change our country, making the five words that descibe this country a true reality.

    January 28, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  21. 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.
    There's three possibilities of outcome for this presidential race: 1) a woman President , 2) 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 become president 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 the 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 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  22. Ted Kwapien

    I cant believe that women are so gullible. The New York chapter of NOW is unhappy with Kennedy's endorsement of Obama and they feel as if he has deserted them. What do you expect from a man that leaves a woman in his car to drown and saves himself? Sort of tells you what he thinks of women. Cant you women see what a fool he is making of all of you?

    January 28, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  23. Leah DiMarco, TX

    Intelligent people will support and vote for the best person for the job.
    It does not mean that they have based their decision on race or gender.
    I am a white southern woman and I will vote for Senator Obama!

    Shame on you N.O.W. N.Y. you have just taken a step backwards in time.

    January 28, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  24. Dave Hines

    Is there anybody out there who really believes that Kennedy's endorsement is going to change many votes? Maybe drunks with no pants are excited, but I for one couldn't care less.

    January 28, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  25. Electa Sansevero

    The problem is they just don't get it. This is not a election to elect a Woman. This is a election to elect a Leader. What did NOW think, Hillary Clinton was going to be crowned just because she was a woman.? This is so much the problem with this country's direction. Each group wants what they want and the heck with everyone else. I am tired of it. I will be voting for Barack Obama, not because of Senator Kennedy's endorsement, not because of Caroline Kennedy's endorsement but because he is the only canidate who has a clear and consise insight into bringing us all together as citizens of the United States and will give this nation's children a future to look foward to.

    A 54 year old woman from New Jersey

    January 28, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
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