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. William

    I declare I am an avid supporter of Hillary Clinton. I also am a conservative democrat who is Pro-Life. I "believe" (excuse the pun) that this statement of the NOW is a bit out of line. I think the president of NOW's statement should be the ultimate one defining their position.

    January 28, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  2. Whitney

    NOW has been out of touch for a long time, how is this even surprising? Would they make the same statement if another woman, say Condi Rice, were running? Hmm.

    January 28, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  3. Annalisa Peterson

    As a concerned citizen and as a woman, I am disappointed that the leaders of NOW are choosing to cast Kennedy's endorsement of Obama as a dualistic women vs. men scenario. To view the democratic nomination as a foregone conclusion–that democratic women must choose Clinton to be loyal to the gender–and that the only reason any democrat would prefer Obama to Clinton is because that voter isn't ready for a woman president–is untrue, unwise, and blind. As a woman and as a thinking voter, I support Barack Obama because I truly believe he is the candidate most able to lead this country. If that candidate was Hillary Clinton, I would just as excitedly vote for her. We have a lot of firsts in this campaign–neither Obama nor Clinton need any excuses if not selected for the Democratic ticket. Either would make a very fine President–but each individual must vote their consciences.

    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  4. D. Lehmann

    The vote at our house will cancell the Kennedys out anyway, BFD...RETIRE TED, you have used the name long enough

    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  5. Buckeye Nation

    Thank you NY NOW.
    You gave Senator Obama the perfect reaction he couldn't have scripted better himself of portraying the Clinton campaign and its apologists, and their silly sense of entitlement.

    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  6. Ro

    These type of statements by NOW hurt women far more than Ted Kennedy picking a candidate he prefers. I'm white, female, 50, and I want a President elected for MERIT only. I work hard in my career and I've earned everything I have. I would not WANT someone's support solely based on my being female; that would be a base insult to my integrity and abilities.

    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  7. Michael Malone

    I foresee a definate problem with our country and its election process when we solely support or defend a potential presidential candidate based on sex, race, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, etc.
    Our decision process for electing our president, or any elected official, should be on their proven performance, academic achievements, their moral and ethical history, etc.
    Yes, admitidly we as a country are ready to have a woman or african-american (or both) for president....but I think that if we elect based solely on those factors we will be failing both ourselves and our country. It truly troubles me when key figures, figureheads, or organizations (which are biased based on their membership/organizational structure) redirect the voting precess into either a gender or ethnicity based election.


    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  8. Billy Sayles

    Speaking of Bill Clinton's character; I can think of only one other person in Washington,D.C. with character lower that Clinton. Teddy. Come on, when is everyone going to start to treating Obama as other candidates. It's as the he's getting special treatment because he's black. If he thinks the Clintons are hard on him, just wait until he goes up against the Republican meat cleaver. It would appear everyone is being politically correct with Obama. If you disagree with him, you have to be a racist.

    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  9. Agnes Stuart,

    I am 1/2 white, 1/2 black African and I do not support Obama. He is not bright enough to be the President, he is riding on a wave – Change ! Too bad its Hilary and Edwards running against him, we needed more experienced and educated "true" African American to run as well.

    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  10. Matthew

    Hopefully this is just the FIRST of groups to complain about this! I love that CNN is finally beginning to cover the many unethical and questionable transactions Obama has had with Rezko. Hmmm.... finally, we're beginning to scrutinize the record of the annointed one!

    January 28, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  11. Mike Longview, TX

    Who cares what Ted Kennedy thinks?
    Hillary has a commanding lead in 12 states on Super Tuesday, will most likely win 2 others as well, could possibly win another 7 and has no chance in only 2!

    HILLARY '08

    January 28, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  12. Go Obama

    Man? Women? Who cares. What a telling rant. Glad to see that the New York chapter of NOW is a progressive and open minded group.
    Ted Kennedy decided to side with a voice of change. Not a career politician.
    Do they think Hillary would even be their senator other than the fact that New York state holds such a high amount of delegates?
    What if Mr. Kennedy decided to back Hillary? Would the NAACP call him a raciest? Doubtful... Surely this group has a better argument.

    January 28, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  13. Maria

    If anything this load of barnyard leavings has convinced me more than ever that Hillary is not the "man" for the job! I lost all respect for her when she didn't leave the Two Timer; and that is not the number of elections he won! I lost more respect for her when she did not factually portray her years in ACTUAL public service. Being the wife of a politician is not qualifications to become President!

    NOW? – you bent genders are just nuts! FREEDOM of CHOICE! Or do you want to continue to direction the country is headed and go completely totalitarian? I do not understand this thinking that unless I vote for what's her name, I am against women!

    Sorry, but I feel that the only "person" for the job is Obama! And he would deserve it whether he was a man or a woman!

    January 28, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  14. sappy

    I have no idea where these groups come from but just beacuse I am women dont lump me in with these ladies!!!! I am a women and am NOT voting for Clinton. Has nothing to do with women's right but who is right for me!

    January 28, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  15. Simone

    The New York state chapter of NOW, does not represent me or any other woman. The entire purpose is to have a choice to back the candidate you feel will get the job done. We are so knee deep, we don't have time to play favorites. They are going on like a bunch of old bitty's that had one too many martini's. We are not voting for King and Queen of the prom. NOW is turning in to NEVER! The economy and the environment are headed for hell-bound; that's what is important to me.

    January 28, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  16. Savetar


    I did not see NOW come out with any scathing rebukes when Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama. Are we to extrapolate that she was betraying woman as well?

    This is a prime example of the divisive politics that Sen. Kennedy was speaking against today during his endorsement of Obama.

    January 28, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  17. Karen

    I'm a woman and the National Organization of Women doesn't speak for me. I wouldn't vote for Hillary for any office let alone the most important office in our nation. Just because she's a woman doesn't make me want to vote for her; her views and my views don't match. Oh, and I don't care who Teddy endorses. I'll make my own decisions, thank you very much.

    January 28, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  18. Craig

    That is the most crazy think I have ever heard. Are you kidding me. It sounds like someone in the NOW/Clinton camp is a little nervous. These statements are sexist and the woman from NOW should be fired for even thinking them. I am no fan of Ted Kennedy but he has a right to get behing the candidate that is bringing record numbers of new voers to the polls. I think if Clinton is the nominee she might win and I would support her. But OBAMA is a machine for the democratic party. He will bring in new voters to joint the growing democratic party to vote for him in the general election which will equate to more seats for Dems in the house and Senate also.

    Get over it NOW its not because he is a man. It's because he is the best thing to happen to the Democratic party since JFK.

    January 28, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  19. joe, oregon

    It is purely personal on Sen Ted Kennedy part to support Obama because Ted Kennedy politics are further left than Obama who tries to appeal to GOP and Independents. Ted Kennedy like Hillary Clinton support universal health care for all Americans while Obama 's health care does not require mandate there is not universal coverage. Obama will put a band aid on our health care crisis where 47 millions are not insured because he likes to please everyone include the GOP who strongly appose any national health care.

    So, it is purely personal that Senator Kennedy left his base high dry for Obama whose
    healt care plan far short of universal coverage, and whose plan is not very concrete so he can shift left and right to please everyone unlike Hillary Clinton has a solid plan to solve American problems in the 21th century.

    January 28, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  20. YW

    This is the stupidest thing I've heard so far this primary season, and there have been some dumb things said by various people. If you apply their logic to their own statement, these women can't stomach the idea of Barak Obama for president because he is black.

    January 28, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  21. R G

    In defense of the Kennedy clan, I too though that Hilary Clinton was a good option, however, after careful review of her negative tactics I decided to change my vote to her oponent. The nation has had enough of the negativity and dirty campaigns, it is time for a true change, and as woman myself, sometimes we need to give credit to those that truly deserve it.

    January 28, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  22. Anna

    It is not the fact that she is a woman. It is the fact that she is Hillary Clinton.

    I am all for a woman president, when it is someone I want to be president. She is not it.

    January 28, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  23. Bostonian

    Like in 2004 with John Kerry, Teddy Kennedy has shown once again his special ability to chose and endorse the weakest and most vulnerable Democratic candidate...
    Kudos to the NY NOW for telling Kennedy what he deserves to hear, and for warning us of the possibility of four more years of Republican rule if Obama gets the nomination...

    January 28, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  24. Modupe Olaiya

    Of course I was shocked when I watched Senator Kennedy making his support speech for Obama. It just goes to show how afraid some people are of the possiblity of a woman president. Why are men afraid? Are they afraid that a woman president would bring the better change to the lives of Americans? They know Hillary Clinton is very capable. I pray she becomes the 1st femal president of America.

    January 28, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  25. Bots, Seattle

    What rights are those idiots at NOW talking about that they don't have? What rights do they want that they don't have? They're voting, a woman is running for president, there are women governors, senators, CEO's, generals, etc. What do they want that they don't have now. Oh, I get it....respect! Get off it. Do yourselves a favor and go have a stiff drink with the guys! And then cry in your beer like the losers next to you.

    January 28, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
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