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. Brenda

    Senator Kennedy has reach the age and longivity in congress that he doesn't really care anymore. He is beginning to flip flop like Senator McCain did when he changed his position after the war began. He will ride Obama's coat tail because he thinks he will win.
    If people remember when Obama first began to throw his hat in the ring, he had a hole different aspect about what he would do for this country. That has all changed and he is beginning to sound like all the rest of the tired pollitations.

    January 28, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  2. tea


    January 28, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  3. Matt, Chicago

    NOW-NY has just found an exciting new way to make feminism look silly.

    It's always amazes me when organizations overreact and end up damaging the ideals they espouse.

    January 28, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  4. Tony

    Is it possible to come up with something dumbier?

    January 28, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. Wake up

    It is still the race. Think about it, what Obama says is not too much different from what Edwards or Clinton says except that he has less substance and use a one word slogan "change" with no concrete plan of how he is going to do that. Change Obama to Edwards, even if he says and does the exact same thing, he cannot get that many votes. Why? Face it. It is much more fasionable to support and vote for a black candidate, who is smart and articulate. Beside, didn't the media pretty much make you that if you don't vote for Obama, you are racist? It is the race, stupid.

    January 28, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  6. Jen

    I am a woman and I'm all for a woman as President–SOMEDAY, but not now and definitely NOT Hillary Clinton. We can't elect her as the next President of the United States just to be able to say that we have a female President. Americans cannot allow gender or race to be the two defining issues in this election and the reason why they vote for either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama. It's the same reason why I didn't vote for Obama in the NH primary because he is African American, I voted for him because I believe he is the best person for the job to fix the damages of the previous presidency.

    Let it be known that NOW does not speak for all women.

    January 28, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  7. Follett

    It is insulting that we should pick a candidate according to race or gender. I am a white female and I support Obama.

    January 28, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  8. sylvia

    What is happening is such a clear example of pure, rank sexism! Men are perceived as more capable of women in getting the job done, men are perceived as the true
    leaders, the true strength and power, etc., it is just nauseating, and Kennedy's endorsement equally nauseating.....

    January 28, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  9. Enrique

    This is a joke. It's insulting to women. I'd like to think that my mom and sister are perfectly able to make an informed decision in who they vote for. In this case, they've decided to vote for Barack Obama.

    January 28, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  10. frances elizabeth

    My response to the New York chapter of now – being a woman myself (and a sometimes uppity one, at that) – is that I have no problem with a woman becoming president. But Hillary's not the right woman for the reasons stated above by others, not the least of which is a total lack of personal integrity for sticking with a philandering husband.

    January 28, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  11. Sandra

    So get over it now, NOW. You just want a woman in the white house. Well, I think most americans have had it with the power hungry Clintons. GOOD FOR YOU TED. I'M PROUD OF YOUR DECISION.

    January 28, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  12. Steve

    Calling Sen. Kennedy anti-feminist for backing Obama is like calling the National Organization of Women anti-Black for opposing Obama. Such a statement is unworthy of such a respected organization.

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

    Oy! So Kennedy shouldn't support the candidate of his choice? Perhaps NOW has betrayed African Americans in their support of Clinton.

    January 28, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  14. Tonia

    We now in this turmoil cannot vote for a person because she is a woman or a man because he is black or for John Edwards because he is a white male.

    Let this vote be stronger than that. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Wake up sheepole. We are in two wars, the economy is in the tank. We manufacture nothing in this country, education is a joke, foreclosure, gas prices and food can you afford either.

    Vote conscience ( I may have spelled it wrong you get me) GIVE LESS THAN A CARE ABOUT THE FIRST but be scared of the worst.

    January 28, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  15. Eva

    To Lily,
    You've not told us why you won't vote for Hillary, but more important, why you are voting for Obama. I'm not surprised – most Obama fans are just that – fans. They couldn't possible know details of his positions or plans because he has not once articulated any. Its MTV for mindless...

    January 28, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  16. Barbara Hanks


    I'm extremely disappointed in Edward Kennedy's decision to support Obama over Hillary. I have always admired the Kennedy's. Sometimes excused his bad behavior, because of all the good he has done for the less fortunate. But this I do not understand! Is he really a supporter of womens rights or is he threatened by a women president? I feel this could have a very devisive influence on the Democratic Party. Shame on you Senator Kennedy.

    January 28, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  17. WoW

    HAHAHAHA...what a joke!

    January 28, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  18. Lynn in NM

    I totally disagree with NOW – NY. I will NEVER vote for someone just because that person is a woman. I will NEVER vote against someone just because they are a man. I will vote for the best person for the job. That certainly is not Hillary! I have almost never agreed with NOW on anything they decide to say. I'm glad to see things still have not changed. Most voters have the intelligence to check out the candidates record and vote based on that. It seems the members of NOW-NY lack that capacity.

    January 28, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  19. Len

    Can't these people get it .The American people do not want to see Bill Clinton back in the White House. With Hillary comes Bill and that is the way it is. Hillary would have had a better chance if she simply would have divorced.

    January 28, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  20. Chris, Orlando, FL

    GO HILLARY !!!



    January 28, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  21. Nicole

    Does anybody respect Ted Kennedy's opinion anyway? I almost think of his endorsement as a bit of a liability.

    January 28, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  22. Plus

    I think most of you miss the point. You are too wrapped up in the "shinny bobbles". TK did choose the less qualifies male over the more qualifies female. NO question. More, it appears he was "angry" with Presindet Clinton and took it out on Senator Clinton. It's not about WHO TK chose, it's about who he did NOT choose.

    People, this IS about power and politics. TK drove a car where a woman died. What did he do? Call 911? Call family to come help find her? Call the police? No...he ran away like a coward and hid behind his family's wealth and power. He came forward 24 hours later! Ask that family that lost their daughter what TK thinks of women?

    BO is unqestionably NOT ready to be presindet on day 1. To think otherwise is just silly.

    January 28, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  23. Jeremy

    This is the most absurd thing i've read in awhile and indicative of how screwed up this country is. The media needs to stop giving attention to those who play the race and gender cards. How about we judge people on the merits. That would be a nice change. In fact, it would be nice to apply that principle beyond presidential elections. Its time employers and universities stop giving preferential treatment based on race and gender as well...affirmative action was wrong from the beginning.

    January 28, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  24. Elvis Dupree

    This organisation is clearly racist for not supporting a black candidate.

    January 28, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  25. B_One

    Absolutely ridiculous!

    January 28, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
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