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. Jake

    So Marrow, NOW was upset because Kennedy chose a less qualified man over a more qualified women? Hillary, with a sum total of seven (7) years of public service, was the most qualified? If NOW was so concerned about qualifications, why weren't they previously supporting Biden and Dodd, who are way more experienced than any of the three Demos running? Look, if they (and you) want to support a viable woman candidate on principle I have no problem with that; I do have a problem with you making faux arguments to question the good faith of anyone who disagrees with you.

    January 28, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  2. Nathan

    I am truly disputed with the actions of several white senators, namely Kerry, Leahy, Kennedy for enfdorsing the newest kid on the block over a woman who has paid her dues for 35 years.
    It is obvious that the Kennedys, Leahy and Kerry are sexists who will stop at nothing to keep the women out of their club.
    Shame on Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy.

    January 28, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  3. joe, oregon

    Give me a break. If woman organization is not fighting for women who would?
    It amazes me that some self-proclaimed feminists said they would never vote for Hillary Clinton. They hate her because she did not leave her cheating husband? Because all of her life, she works so hard for women costs.
    Are women naturally more divisive than men? Women make up nearly 52% of US population but we have not seen a woman elected president. I think time is now.

    January 28, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  4. Barbara Casas-California

    Seems to me that NOW organization is not "an equal rights organization" after all.
    If they were, they would want Hillary and her husband to stop using every trick in the book to win this election.

    The key words in this article are: "The National headquarters of NOW is not making any statements; they are "distancing themselves from the New York agency who is the one making "whining noises" about this whole issue.... (isn't that amazing?)...and what state is Senator Clinton from? NOW has said they respect Senator Kennedy's statement and decision....what more needs to be said?

    Come on gals, lets play fair and stop using the gender issue to stop real progress!

    January 28, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  5. Pattie

    I'm a 52 year old half-white, half-Asian woman who has always worked outside the home and finally worked her way through college while in her thirties. I'm married, but I support my family. I've always been for abortion rights, for women's rights, for equal pay.

    Does the fact that I'm supporting Obama mean I've betrayed my sex?

    I think not. In fact, I know not. I'm not voting for Hillary because I don't like her voting record. And in the last few weeks, I've come to question her character through her campaign's tactics.

    "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."

    Excuse me? Us? Since when are these women collectively Hillary? I can handle a woman president. I want a woman president. I don't want Hillary. I applaud Edward Kennedy. The safe road would have been endorsing Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  6. Ralph

    If I were a Kennedy and a Senator and I choice to endorse someone I would expect everyone else to either listen to me or STFU. No one has to listen to him but these attacks and stupid biased hypocritical gender remarks are going to ruin your female presidential candidates chances to win the nomination. Keep on going you are really pissing off a large majority of intelligent women by saying crap like this.

    January 28, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    So, lemme get this straight. This group advocates equal rights for women (i.e. women should have equal consideration to men.) But at the same time, they endorse Clinton, for whatever reasons they may have. (I would presume its just because she's a woman, but I'll stay above their game.)

    What the group is saying is, because Kennedy did not pick their candidate, they are betraying their cause. This means one of two things. One, the group does *not* advocate equal consideration, but an advancement based on the fact that she is a woman. Forget the fact that Kennedy may or may not believe in her politics, the way she's conducted her candidacy, the fact that most Americans' idea of change is change of the "old guard" (i.e. Clintons in the White House), the fact that her husband's idea of sour grapes is veiled statements like "well, Jesse Jackson won South Carolina too...", oh, and the idea that maybe, just maybe Barack Obama might be capable of advocating women's rights as well (since the group conveniently omits Oprah's endorsement of Obama.)

    The group's justification for saying "shame, shame" on Kennedy is ridiculous. It goes something like this...

    "We did so many things for you, Kennedy, and yet, you didn't vote for our candidate, Hillary Clinton. You're totally a bad person now."

    Any group, and I mean *any group* that justifies (or admonishes) a Congressman or Senator's endorsement, on the basis of how many things that group has done for that Senator is essentially a self-serving lobby. Evidence?

    Notice they pick on Kennedy, but can't seem to find a reason why Obama shouldn't be nominated, or why he couldn't represent their cause.


    January 28, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  8. Michele

    WHO CARES WHAT EDWARD KENNEDY HAS TO SAY? Edward Kennedy was never going to support a female for president. He wouldn't save the life of Mary Jo Kopechne, leaving her to die in the car while he sleep in a nice warm bed that night after swimming to safety. HE LEFT HER TO DIE. He is very comfortable with what he did.

    Ted Kennedy certainly isn't going to support a female for president when he takes a life of another female.

    Don't look to the Kennedy's for guidance. Ted is jealous, Caroline probably has a book coming out and Patrick will change his mind in about 12 years and need that opinion annulled.

    January 28, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  9. Steve

    The new guy? Are you kidding me?!?! What do you think this is, high school? This is what happens when you let women organize. Leave it to a bunch of bimbos to blow it for the democrats. Hags

    January 28, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  10. WAL

    That is no way to treat someone who disagrees with you. NOW should be ashamed of itself. I am a woman and I do not believe that Hillary represents my interests with her disrespectful campaign tactics. I applaud the Kennedy family for their endorsement. But I don't slam NOW for disagreeing with me. Does everyone that supports Hillary have to act so bizarrely? It seems that way. They are not living up to the principles of the Democratic Party. They are acting like Republicans.

    January 28, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  11. Roger

    NOW needs to watch what they say. These kind of statements will turn off enough of the moderate voters that Hillary would not stand a chance against the Republican candidate. The NOW sexist statement could even cause more damage than that already inflicted by Bill's racial statements.

    January 28, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  12. Kurt Eric Munroe

    NOW is totally foolish in this case! Hillary has lived the American dream to the fullest. Americans of every creed and color has supported her getting to where she is today. Supporting Obama does not, in anyway, lessen the reality that males and females have launched Hillary to a status that many of us who have supported the party will never ourselves experience.

    NOW seems to suggest that we should be so narrow as to vote based on gender alone. Even if we were to somehow entertained that ideal, Clinton would not be my choice as she is severely under-qualified to be president. She and her husband are as evil and conniving as they come. This is about the past versus the future. Voting for Hillary, because she is a female, does not fit that agenda.

    Again, this is about the past versus the future. Later for NOW.

    January 28, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  13. Bethany, St. Louis MO

    NOW is pathetic.
    So is Hillary.

    I am a woman and I look forward to NEVER voting for Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  14. Eva

    Ed, FL – its all rhetoric, or are you not able to distinguish that from honesty. Read his book – Dreams of my Father, where he bashes whites even though he was raised by his mother's family – whites. He may be posturing as a black man, but all he knows of the true black experience is what he has witnessed, not experienced. Don"t kid yourself. Obama has a hidden agenda which is why he does converse with the audience, but rather preaches to it.

    January 28, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  15. jane501

    That's the dumbest thing to come out of this election fiasco yet! GET OVER IT! I agree with Mike & Linda.
    Go tend to your yoga & soccer games & leave the important stuff to the "big girls"!

    January 28, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  16. Ann Aloha Independent Thinker,PA

    Again, the media has spun and biasly turned the Democratic Party into the biggest laughing stock in the country. And all the Clinton Haters are sexist and anti-feminist and most are in the media.
    Maybe there should be a movement to boycott the media shows that are subjective and bias which include subjecive sensationalism and fragmented stories for ratings and/or personal gain.
    Good Luck People
    Edwards and Clinton should be respected eventhough you support Obama, but the hatred and ignorance is 10 fold and it looks like our party is the Party Of Ugliness.

    January 28, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  17. Brad

    Hillary is Howard Dean in a dress

    January 28, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  18. Angie

    How dare they criticize Kennedy for endorsing Senator Obama. It's obvious they're ONLY supporting Hillary because she's a woman, not because she's the better candidate. What hippocrites!

    January 28, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  19. Jim Sachs

    The women's movement has finally achieved equality by becoming all that it once reviled.

    Their position, their words and deeds are governed by a sexist agenda that no longer cares about right and wrong, all they care about is one of their own achieving power. They are sexist by every measure and definition of the word.

    They couldn't have done a better job of discrediting themselves as hypocrites if they hired Karl Rove to do it for them.

    They have lost their way and in doing so they have become the 'movement' of blind and bigoted dinosaurs who are living 30 years in the past.

    It is sad and tragic betrayal of all the good this movement once stood for.

    January 28, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  20. David Scoven

    If Hillary Clinton is really the kind of woman over which NOW would choose to fall on their sword – well, that doesn't speak highly for NOW.

    January 28, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  21. dd


    Wonderfully said.
    I am a man, I have a son and I don't think that Hillary is a role model for anybody.

    I was skeptical about Obama, but he is the one. He brings with his candidacy what America needs most right now: inspiration to choose a new course. The world is changing and so should we.

    January 28, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  22. Katie

    Ahahahahahahahahahahaha. Wait, let me read that again...hahahahahahahaha. Um, did they happen to ASK women who they wanted to vote for? I would feel betrayed if he supported Hillary...

    January 28, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  23. David

    Maybe NOW can't stand the idea of Kennedy supporting an African American candidate.

    January 28, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  24. Eric, Tucson AZ

    If Jenna Jameson and Betty Boop were running mates, and Kennedy endorsed someone else, NOW would still scream "BETRAYAL."

    January 28, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  25. Steven

    must be this time of the month for those women!!! HAHAHAH LOL!

    January 28, 2008 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
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