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. Harry

    Think about this!!!
    This is another way Boston is beating New York!!

    Red Sox downs Yankees

    Patriots will go any level ,even to spygate, to defeat Jets and Giants and they will almost certain to kick the Giants around this sunday

    And Now, the Boston democrat is supporting the Harvard kid to beat the New Yorker!

    Wake up NY !!

    January 28, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  2. Barbara LeBey

    I am disappointed but not surprised. Face it, Barak is very liberal, very much to the left and that is where Kennedy's views are. Hillary is a moderate and can lead from the center which will serve her well in the general election. Kennedy's endorsement might seem like a prize now, but after she's won the nomination, it will no longer be a benefit to her.

    January 28, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  3. Annie Midwest

    Kennedy began by paying tribute to Sen. Clinton's advocacy for issues such as health care and women's rights. "Whoever is our nominee will have my enthusiastic support," he said.

    It's extremely noteworthy that Senator Kennedy as well as Hillary and former President Bill Clinton (along with many of her supporters) have publicly stated that they will support whoever is the Democratic nominee - YET Senator Obama steadfastly refuses to declare his support for whomever is the eventual nominee of his "professed chosen party" 🙁 AND everyone who reads the blogs already know that Obama followers have absolutely no loyalty to ANY party!!

    It would strongly appear that BARACK OBAMA IS CERTAINLY "THE NEW BREED OF POLITICIANS" in regards that he shows no true party loyalty and will no doubt become an Independent in the near future, joining Bloomberg (especially if he doesn't get the Democratic nod). He is a shrewd politician who puts his own personal agendas ahead of the partys and merely uses the Democratic party for his own self-serving purposes.

    It is past time for America to have a viable 3rd party of Independents who wish to vote for the candidate rather than for the party platforms and what they have always stood for. It is time for those who have no strong feelings for womens' right to choose and personal freedoms and no strong party loyalties to form their own separate party. We urge Senator Obama to break from the Democratic party now and follow his own path, before his broken promises of unity completely destroy the last vestiges of the Democrats who have always proudly stood for the rights of the weak, vulnerable, and downtrodden as well as the working men and women in America - piting the younger generations against the older, the more affluent upscale against those less fortunate, the better educated against those who don't have as many opportunities, men against women, one race against another, and now "one side of the clans" against the other (Robert Kennedy's children support Senator Clinton). Please fans of Obama urge your candidate to break from the Democrats and stand on his own, if he believes so strongly in his OWN destiny!!

    January 28, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  4. Sue Butterfield

    Remember when Ted Kennedy let the girl he was with drown in his car ? What a champion for women , He is digusting . Kennedy is trying to relive the "good old days " through Obama. He hates the thought of a woman president , a lot of men do , but on the other hand a lot of people don't like the idea of an african American president . You chose . I chose Hillary . Ted Kennedy is old and out dated by backing Obama he makes him out dated also .Change it " aint" gonna be .

    January 28, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  5. Glynda Allison

    I stand in total agreement with the NY chapter of NOW. Kennedy not only betrayed the women of America, but he also betrayed America as a whole by endorsing another candidate without the much needed armor our next President must possess – Experience, Intelligence and Know-how.

    If Kennedy's endorsement robs the American people of the best candidate for America – Hilary Rodham Clinton – then we're are in for another 4-8 years of going nowhere fast.

    I'm sure Mr. Obama has the desire, the drive, and the ambition to hold the highest office in the USA – but as a junior senator, he lacks the credentials that must be required – and are sorely lacking in our current administrator – to lead our nation from the abyss Mr. Bush has lead us into.

    Whatever Mr. Kennedy is thinking, he is not thinking what is best for the Democratic Party, or for his country.

    Bring back a higher level of leadership. Vote for Intelligence. Vote for Experience. Vote for Hilary Rodham Clinton.

    January 28, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  6. Elaine Carrington

    For years I have been a great admirer and staunch supporter of the Kennedy's. My first vote when I was 21 years old was for President John F. Kennedy. I had the privelege of hosting a Yound Democrats reception for Senator Robert Kennedy during his run for President of the United States. And I have been an ernormous supporter of Senator Ted Kennedy over the years dispite his many personal difficulties.
    I am so disapointed that Senator Kennedy has ignored the hopes and aspirations of so many women in this country who support Senator Hillary Clinton and has chosen instead to throw his support to a young, inexperienced man over a very qualified woman candidate. It is utter nonsense that Senator Obama is a transendant inspiring figure. I have listened carefully to him, and although he says he wants to inspire, he is not focused enough to do so. I have been much more inspired by Senator' Clinton's run even though I was afraid for her to try this campaign in the beginning. Ater a while I dared to hope that maybe this country was ready to accept a woman for President. I believe we are, but just barely. We could have hoped Senator Kennedy would not try to rain on her parade!

    I feel that he has chosen not to respect the pride and hopes of women in their support of Hillary Clinton. I will never ever forgive him for this. He should have stayed neutral and waited to support the nominee of the Democratic Party. I would prefer not to ever hear of him again.

    Now, I will not support any man who runs as President. I will stay home from the polls and let others decide. All these years I've given my support and hard work for male candidates. This is a slap in the face.

    January 28, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  7. AN

    That is just all around disgusting. I don't know how else to put it. NOW-NY should be thoroughly ashamed.

    January 28, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  8. vote4change

    This was a stupid statement to make by NOW. I looked at joining them, but they were so off base with their views that I think they are ridiculous and don't reflect the views of the average American woman. I take their comment with as much weight as I take Hillary's.

    Just because Kennedy endorsed a man who is better qualified to lead this country, doesn't mean he dislikes woman. Retarded statements like these from NOW are one reason why women continue to be stereo typed. Don't they realize that women are smart enough to choose the best candidate? Not just the female candidate? NOW's statements were an insult to the intelligence of today's women.

    January 28, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  9. Prosecutor

    If Ted Kennedy were to endorsed Hill Billy Clinton, I bet a bunch of black women would then jumped out and make accusation of Ted being racist for not backing a black candidate!


    January 28, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  10. HighBeam

    It has also been reported by Tucker Carlson that Sen. Kennedy only called Bill Clinton to tell him of the decision. I guess she is not a real canidate, just the wife.

    January 28, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  11. Nick, Milpitas, California

    Message aside, this is a very poorly written statement.

    January 28, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  12. Jon

    N.O.W. is a racist, White Only network of yentas

    January 28, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  13. Jon

    NOW is a racist, white only group of NY women...Perhaps they are having issues voting for a black man

    January 28, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  14. VC, MD

    May god give you wisdom to see through the dishonest Clintons who have nothing to offer except 35 years of staying in the mud. By that token we should just elect a pig to be our president. Please wake up and break this rotten political system where you have to get corrupted by the system in order to move up. Go and support Obama. He may or may not live up to our expectations but he is the only leader with fresh ideas who can transform this nation, and make us believe in ourselves and reshape our destiny.

    January 28, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  15. yves

    Everybody, please take a deep breath. I understand everyone's frustation, but I wouldn't put the whole blame on the NOW new york chapter. Think of the Clintons, may be they're upset of senator Kennedy's decision and use the NOW new york as a surrogate to get back at the senator. Remember the Clintons would do anything to win. I am an independent voter and would like to see a well qualified person to be president of the United States of America. I think the members of the NOW New York chapter are intelligent people and would understand senator Kennedy can't be judge only by endorsing a candidate who happens to be a male, I smell a rat on that story, I smell the Clintons.

    January 28, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  16. Esther






    January 28, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  17. Barbara LeBey

    These attacks on Bill Clinton are getting so old. He is so fabulous, and I am so sick of the media trashing him and Hillary the way they do. It's grossly unfair, and CNN is certainly leading the pack...not very professional. It seems to exist just to cheer on Obama, never pointing out how his wife is playing the race card everywhere she goes. But she, and Obama, are like the 3rd rail... they can't be touched, and if that isn't racist, what is? I believe the left leaning media is as bad as the right leaning media. We, the electorate are the losers.

    January 28, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  18. tobey s. flores

    I also agree with the N.O.W. that Senator Ted Kenndy has also betrayed all of America because Senator Qbama is not our late President Kennedy new vision. America is ready for a woman President. Me and my family will vote in the month of March 2008 for Senator Hillery Clinton for President. If the party picks Senator Obama for President, we will vote for a republican in November 2008.

    January 28, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  19. Sheri

    ....Woman is for cold night to keep warm and nothing more........
    Hillary , you just like any other stupid woman...... go back home to keep BILL warm...
    You don't fit into the WHITE HOUSE , uncle Ted knows it all , only Obama....tall,strong and handsome... hmmmm, all woman like to keep him warm at night......

    January 29, 2008 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  20. Belinda

    Same old special interest expecting to purchase government and control it instead of the people. "This is how he paid them back"? Don't worry NOW, if Hillary is elected your agenda will supercede anyone else's. If Sen Obama or Edwards is elected tjhey won't OWE anyone ANYTHING. Perfect!

    January 29, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  21. ecor

    NOW should perhaps turn their criticism to Bill Clinton's domination of Hillary's campaign.

    January 29, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  22. Patty

    I'm a women that will join NOW not because I'm women but this Obama is dividing races even more and now Democrats. He tells good speeches but is not qualified..whats wrong with you people. We have a war and recession and you choose this?? Don't let his speeches take hold of your common sense.

    January 29, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  23. Sherry

    Most of these comments sound very hypocritical to me.

    On one hand you are saying it is okay for a known political family with lots of clout to endorse a candidate and on the other hand you are saying a group of women can not voice their opinion. The truth is each of us have the right to state our opinions, endorse who we want to and if you are insulting anyone about who they support, you are wrong.

    January 29, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  24. some guy

    OBAMA is the ANTI-DYNASTY candidate! He says NO to political dynasties and the past. And yet, here he is getting endorsed by another dynasty from even further in the past.

    But then again, most of Obama's supporters are too young to understand this IRONY. Having grown up listening to Alanis Morrissette, they believe irony is rain on your wedding day.

    January 29, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  25. Deanna Woodham

    To the NOW organization:

    I disagree with you completely. I am a well educated, divorced, white female over 60 years of age. As a supporter of President Clinton in 1992 and 1996, I am shocked and disappointed with the Clinton divisive campaign tactics. He has damaged the Democratic party, and if Hillary Clinton receives the Democratic nomination, I shall vote Republican for the first time. I do not vote for a candidate because of gender, and your position on the Kennedy endorsement reduces my respect for your organization. Senator Kennedy's support of Senator Obama
    is due to the fact that no one wants to see President Clinton in the White House

    January 29, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
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