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. Suziku

    I completely agree with the other comment! As a woman, I would happily vote for the "right" woman. I will not however vote for a woman just because of her gender. That's just plain stupid! Hillary is not the right woman! Obama is the right man!

    January 28, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. benvictor

    I am a democrat, white male and Teddy's endorsement compels to support Hillary even more strongly. Who is this guy anyway to tell democrats how to vote. Happily, he belongs to the ages gone by and has no voice. Florida votes tomorrow for Hillary and she will carry Super Tuesday. Teddy's day is done.

    January 28, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  3. erick

    Whoa, first the race card and now the the Gender race. Obviously, they did not list to the speeches by Obama or Kennedy. Now is the time to put away the politics of division. I refuse to support some one based solely on race or gender.

    January 28, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  4. Karen

    To say that if someone does not endorse Clinton that they are disrespecting women's rights is reverse racism. As a woman, I expect equal treatment, and so should Hilary. If she wants votes, she must earn them with what she can bring to the table, not just by what is between her legs.

    I am a woman, and an undecided voter. I will cast my vote based on what each candidate offers, not by gender or color of skin. To imply that a woman should do otherwise (or anyone, for that matter) is insulting.

    January 28, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. Nikki

    This is ridiculous. I am a woman. I am a Democrat. I am a feminist. I CANNOT stomach the thought of Hillary Clinton being elected the first woman President of the United States. She is not deserving of such an honor. Any woman who would tolerate the misogynistic behavior of Bill Clinton and stay with him in spite of his numerous betrayals of their marriage vows is not the type of role model I want for my daughters. I would have had more respect for her if she would have had more respect for herself in light of his transgressions. I can't shake the feeling that their union is one of convenience, not love. For a woman to commit to such a relationship is indicative of an unhealthy psyche. This is not someone I want running my country.

    January 28, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  6. bill

    Another radical example of political correctness. This is just what this great country doesnt need. This press release will make me rethink my position. I am leaning towards changing from a Clinton supporter becuase of the nonsense that surrounds her. Her husbands behavior last week and this weeks NOW article has caused me to be completely turned off by Hillary and any chance of support is gone.

    I am not a Senator Kennedy fan but i do support his right to choose who he believes will be right for the country. He says he is supporting change, how can that be translated as a slight against woman.

    If Hillary want to be treated equally as a canidate she should run for office as a canidate not as a woman. Hillary and Bill are turning off the public by making race and gender issues in this election.

    Americans want change and a canidate they can support, obviously Hillary has no clue as to the feelings of a mainstream citizen.

    January 28, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Yusuf Samater

    So apparently Senator Kennedy endorsement of Obama has nothing to do with his messege of hope and unity.

    January 28, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  8. Lily

    Ah, it looks like the gender card has officially been drawn. What next Clinton camp?

    January 28, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  9. Melissa, New York, NY

    As a woman, I find this completely insulting.

    January 28, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  10. Whuzi

    "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."

    This argument doesn't even add up. This so called NOW chapter clearing has a few screws loose. Who exactly were these quotes taken from? What does Kennedy being a "white" man have to do with this issue at all. Clinton is a white women for pete's sakes. Kennedy is endorsing a man who so happens to be an African American. So how did they possibly manage to pull the race card in this scenario??

    All I can say is wow...PMS is scary.

    January 28, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  11. John

    Let me get this straight...because Senator Kennedy chose not to endorse Senator Clinton, he is against women's rights? Is it not perfectly plausable that he actually believes that Senator Obama is a better candidate? It is saddening to me when people cannot open their minds and look outside of their own small world to realize that it's not all about them and their agenda. What about women who support Senator Obama? Are they against women? Do they disrespect themselves? These are just a few of the many questions raised in my mind by the narrow-minded opinion of this chapter of NOW.

    January 28, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  12. linda

    I am not impressed with regard to the endorsement of Ted Kennedy for Obama's presidency. Ted Kennedy could not even win the nomination for democratic presidency during his younger years in the senate because of his scandal in the past.

    How could he help Obama? He could not even help himself to carry the "torch" or the legay of his brother, JFK. This is about dirty politics. I hope that Hillary Clinton wins the nomination and the presidency to prove to these people that she doesn't need Ted Kennedy and so forth. What she needs is to be herself, and be sincere that she can be a good president and leave a legacy of her own that she will be one of the best presidents of the United States.

    January 28, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. lyng779@adelphia.net

    Kennedy suguar coating Obama. Make me sick!

    January 28, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  14. Cate

    Yeah, this is totally nuts. I'm a woman who would gladly and enthusiastically vote for a woman. But I'm voting for Obama because in my opinion he's the better candidate. Does that make me a sell out to all women? Total nonsense!

    January 28, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  15. Jamie

    Great, another offensive attack by a Hillary Clinton surrogate group. After the BET founder debacle, does anyone listen to these attacks?

    Seriously, NOW's issue with Kennedy is that he did not pick Hillary because she is a women. I thought NOW was for equality not special treatment? Why is Kennedy not allowed to pick the best candidate regardless of gender?

    As a member of NOW, I am pulling any support I had for the group and will push for others to as well.

    January 28, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. Connie

    Although I would love to see a woman President, I refuse to vote by gender. At this time, I think Obama would inspire everyone. I didn't know the Clintons had NOW in their pocket too.

    January 28, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  17. Jen, New York, NY

    Kelly, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    January 28, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  18. Bob

    What a joke neither one of them have the expierence to run the country he is just picking the lesser of two evils. So, these woman groups think Hillery should be endorsed strictly because she is a woman. If he endorsed Hillery does that give the NAACP the right to protest him. As a white male I am going to protest him for not endorsing Edwards. Give me a break

    January 28, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  19. shaun

    This sets women back 50 years...

    Stop hating and except the facts. Barack does have supporters like hillary does, and just because everyone doesn't gock and kneel down to her doesn't mean there's a conspiracy.


    January 28, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  20. gp martin

    First they slammed Ophra...now the Kennedys......those lesbians sure are mad......good.......I am glad they are mad...........go back under your rocks.

    January 28, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    So, let me get this right, if you don't support Hillary, you are sexist? Does this mean that if you don't support Obama, you are racist?

    January 28, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  22. Kiki

    GOOO NOW!!!

    you tell him!! Kennedy has no shame!

    January 28, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  23. Ray

    might be true. Seems like everyone in the "Men's" club is joining NObama!!

    January 28, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  24. Kim

    Funny how Obama speaks of change, yet is backed by one of the oldest and most experienced Washington insiders. I guess he names some name recognition to help him get votes since Clinton is leading all but one or two polls on Feb. 5

    January 28, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  25. BBelle

    This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read. The people at NOW should be ashamed to put such trash out. So Ted should endorse Hillary becasue he has a less than perfect historywith women in his personal life. GIVE ME A BREAK!

    January 28, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
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