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. Susan

    This statement makes me embarrased to be a woman. Honestly, do we stand behind an addict just because they are loyal to us, or as intellectual women, make rational decisions even if the outcome does not involve another woman. This comment makes women seem stupid and not intelligent. I can't believe it is actually coming from the NOW. Regardless of who I vote for, if there was a woman candidate who was not as qualified as a male candidate, I certainly would not vote for her just because she was a woman. However, if that woman was either equally or more qualified in my eyes, you bet your bottom dollar I WOULD vote for her. Get off the Kennedy's back. This only makes NOW look stupid.

    January 28, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  2. Nuke

    TED KENNEDY AND CAROLINE BETRAYED CLINTONS. Ted wants to control OBAMA because he cannot handle tough women like Clinton.

    GO Hillary

    January 28, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  3. GR, Atlanta, GA

    Kate, are you on drugs or do you work in the New York office of NOW? What is it with you New Yorkers? You guy have to be the most out of touch constituency in America. Your boy, Rudy Giuliani is making an absolute fool of himself, Bloomberg actually believes that anyone outside of NYC cares about him, and now from the NY chapter of NOW. New York City is certainly a "special place."

    January 28, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  4. me

    Wonder what Obama owes to Kennedy now, old school politics gives nothing for nothing in return!

    If Obama was a so called Uniter, he would have refused Kennedy's endorsement, as well as Kerry's and the others, because that is choosing sides and a uniter doesn't split people, this is proof that the words are empty!

    Change doesn't come about playing the old game of support from old Senators that you now owe something too!

    Obama would have proven his message he stumps on by saying thank you but please remain neutral in this campaign please!

    Incredible how people are so disconnected between the words of a candidate and the actions of a candidate!

    Prophet Obama is showing he is really a self-Profit Obama!

    January 28, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  5. BEP

    I like Hillary and think she would be a fine President. However, I think she has little chance of winning the general election. This is our best chance in years to take back the White House, and we could fumble it by nominating someone with baggage and negatives that high. I would love to see a woman President, just as I would love to see a black President (I am a white guy), but most importantly, I don't want to give the White House back to the Republicans for another 4-8 years to pick more Supreme Court justices and continue to dilute our public protection agencies like the EEOC and EPA.

    To suggest that I am betraying women by wanting to pick the candidate I think has the better chance of winning a general election is absurd. When advocacy groups make these sorts of outlandish statements, they often set their own causes back, because people see them as out of touch extremists. To attack Kennedy's loyalty to women simply because he happens to beleive Obama is the better choice in this case is no better than attacking someone's patriotism simply because they disagree with the war in Iraq. It is personal, juvenile, and groundless.

    January 28, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  6. Ben

    This is an article designed to provoke outrage at women and/or liberals. This is not news. Try harder, CNN.

    January 28, 2008 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  7. Steve Stark

    NOW NY, by their own logic, must be racist for not supporting Obama, predjudice against men for not supporting Edwards, anti-age for not supporting McCain, anti-religion for not supporting Huckabee, and anti-Mormon for not supporting Romney. They need to realize, people make decisions based on factors other than race and sex. I don't support Hillary Cinton because I disagree with her on the issues, not because I am sexist.

    January 28, 2008 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  8. Micahel Guinn, Ventura, CA

    NOW needs to realize that FUTURE includes both genders, all races, all orientations, all faiths – not just one of the above! Women have not been betrayed- they've been given new hope! This is NOT about gender- a woman should be able to be elected for President of this country as long as she is the best candidate. Barack Obama is the best candidate and he happens to be an African-American male. If Hillary had the same hopeful message, it would be different. She represents Status-Quo Politics. It has NOTHING to do with her gender.

    January 28, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  9. Amy

    The above comments simply show that sexism in America is hundred times stronger than anything one can call racism. I don't know what was the reason for NOW–NY to 'feel betrayed' by Ted Kennedy. They may know more than they say. And I don't care what Kennedy likes, or "feels in the air".

    His endorsement is simply a disrespect for a fair contest. It shows disregard for Hillary (who happens to be an intelligent capable woman). So, yes, what Kennedy did by not remaining neutral in this contest and by using his influence (God knows why he has some) was a betrayal of equity principles. He was supposed to leave the candidates do their fight.. not to influence Democrats by telling what HE WANTS.

    We all followed this campaign and we know that from the very beginning, double standards were applied to candidates. Hillary has been continuously under scrutiny on every single detail. While Obama received a free ride being allowed to remain unspecific on all issues, on his record, on his empty talk, and when somebody dared to question this, was accused of being racist.

    January 28, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  10. rhonda

    It appeared that Ted was waiting all those years to blast the Clinton. He spoke about the same all politices but he is using Hillary quote as being ready on day one for Oboma.

    I priase Oboma for his success, but he was waiting for the clinton to speak about race for him to use it as his advantage.

    I wonder wha tin his closet he is hiding. He keep saying he is protecting his record, well if he cannot take the heat he should not be in politices.

    How will he handle criticism if he becomes president. I guest he will call TED.

    January 28, 2008 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  11. Jeanette J

    As much coverage as CNN gives Obama, I expect you to endorse him any day now.

    January 28, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  12. JenniferS

    Such ignorance. They are throwing their own credibility out the window. Saying something like this is just sexist, and quite frankly, NOW has offended me as a woman.

    January 28, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  13. FMJ

    They've got to be kidding. So if someone doesn't accept Hillary then they're automatically unwilling to accept a female leader. Why can't it be that people aren't willing to accept Hillary?

    January 28, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. Chia

    I agree with the comments that women cannot vote for Hillary just because she is a women. It is about about a women president or a male president it is about a president that can bring fresh prespective, logically handle potentially volatile situations and work together with republicans. I was very disappointed with Hillary Clintion's performance in the debates – she becomes defensive very soon, starts personal attacks, just tries to brow beat that her idea is the only best idea and certainly her strategy of using former president as 'bad cop' backfired.

    If she to conduct her in such a manner with president of Iran, I don't know where the world would be. Her conduct does not reflect the experience she touts so much off.

    Further ideas, difference of opinions, fresh eyes to a problem are all very important to explore and firm up solutions. Hillary Clinton scores no points in this regard.

    January 28, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  15. Obama '08

    Thank CNN for posting my comment?? MSNBC is better news coverage

    January 28, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  16. Pat from Victoria, BC

    I wish people would stick to the best person capable of leading the country on all issues instead of bringing race and gender into the picture. America has a long way to go if winning an election is about gender and race.

    Wake up,...... your economy is having it's issues at the moment,...I do not think it would take a man over a woman or a black over a white to make the best decisions in the White House.

    Best of luck America...the whole world is watching and listening....

    From A Canadian who values democracy and understanding...

    January 28, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  17. patrick

    For the local chapter of Women's rights to suggest that because Ted Kennedy endorses Obama because he can't stand the idea of a woman President is the same as a person endorsing Hilary Clinton because they can't stand the idea of a black President. This local chapter cheapens the debate and simplifies the issues to gender. I wished they'd impress us with their largesse, not thier petty narrowness.

    January 28, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  18. Jan from Iowa

    Get over it !!
    Obama is the better candidate.
    Enough said.
    I, myself, prefer John Edwards but Barack Obama
    has always been my 2nd choice.
    Evidently, the Kennedy's see something in Obama
    that they (and I) do NOT see in CLinton.......
    Namely...........Trust, Truth, etc.etc.etc.

    January 28, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  19. liz

    You took the CNN bait again did you not. Wow my guess about those who post comments tell me they are going to be quite surprised that the rest of the country are not as easily taken in by those who think they can control it all. I laugh when one of these supposed women on here say they are a feminist and would not vote for Hillary. I can only imagine them in their SUV's working because they want to rather than having to put food in their children's mouth. I bet you feel you are so above it all and smug with your choice of who you would come off of your thrown to feel so progressive to vote for. You could not in all probability ever walk a campaign mile in Hillary's shoes and manage to keep your head held high with dignity. Who needs or wants your vote.

    January 28, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  20. Anonymous



    January 28, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  21. Bruce

    2 things:
    1. It's Family and Medical Leave Act get it straight.
    2. If that isn't sexism. Apparently, by not choosing a woman to support the Sen. Kennedy is against female rights? Hmm ok, apparently the this female group is racist and does not stand for rights of non-whites. Great use of logic, just another example of foolish people tryong to get their 15 minutes of fame.

    January 28, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  22. FS

    Doesn't Hillary's "stand by your man" no matter what attitude go against the strong woman image NOW promotes? She's never doubted that her womanizing hubby really loved her. Really? But then, dumping him may not have been politically expedient and if Hillary is nothing else, she is the ultimate political opportunist.
    This woman will not vote for Hillary, NOW does not speak for me.

    January 28, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  23. jake

    ridiculous! just because senator kennedy picked Barack Obama doesn't mean he is "another white man who can't handle a woman president"... NOW is endorsing Clinton simply based on the fact that she IS a woman and little more. I completely respect Senator Kennedy for his endorsement and it goes to show that some people really do elevate their thinking outside of gender and racial stereotypes.

    January 28, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  24. Agatha

    There is no reason to believe that the press release is the work of more than a couple of women. If I were a member of NOW-NY I would be furious that a couple of office holders felt they could make such a nutty statement on behalf of the organization.

    I don't know if I would be more furious as an Obama supporter or as Hillary supporter. I can't think that what is essentially a "Nutjobs for Hillary" effort would be terribly welcome to run of the mill Clinton supporters. Though what few Clinton supporters have posted here, don't seem to distance themselves from NOW-NY's comments.

    My own preference is for Obama, though I could support Edwards happily. It's efforts like that of NOW-NY, Bill Clinton and to an extent Hillary herself that make me recoil from the thought of ever voting for Hillary. She doesn't give the impression of really being in charge; alternatively she's in charge of something very ugly.

    January 28, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  25. Richard Billy Feng

    CNN can do better job than headline a story of a major endorsement with a distraction from a group that apparently has refused to recognized the issues at stake and wants to play the gender card.

    January 28, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
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