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. 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 supersede anyone else's. If Sen Obama or Edwards is elected they won't OWE anyone ANYTHING. Perfect! Their argument rests.

    January 29, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  2. Paul

    utter nonsense.Voting someone base on the gender or race is stupid, comeon this is America, and I cant belive Clinton with those sub standard campaign

    January 29, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  3. Eduardo Bosseloo

    Go Hillary go. We love you now and always.

    January 29, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  4. Yoyo

    Obama sucks!!!!!

    Hillary 2008

    January 29, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  5. Frank, MO

    Equally is when gender (or race) does not matter. NOW shows that they went past that point and lost an objective point of view. Nobody with a sane mind would suggest a woman could not be president .... but I would also not suggest ANY man could do the job. The person matters ... and Billary is not the right person and she is not even anything like the strong women I met in my life. Strong women don't need a man or husband to carry them to the finish line !! I believe a woman can be president all by herself and does not need a co-president. Again .. gender and race means NOTHING !

    Sad to say, but if Billary would be nominated our family will vote republican (for the first time ever) !!

    In KC, Missouri

    January 29, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  6. AISHA








    January 29, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  7. Jim Petre

    I'm glad that the national chapter distanced themselves from the comments. The remarks of the New York chapter are not representative of the whole organization. In fact, the president of the Chicago chapter of NOW has endorsed Obama.

    January 29, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  8. Anna in Iowa

    Transparent attempt to take a swipe at Kennedy and Obama in one shot. . I would tell these groups to knock it off. It is about choosing the best candidate for the democratic party where she is a woman or black man makes no difference. Is race baiting now turned into feminist baiting? Enough already. It will hurt Hillary more than it will help. Bill Clinton is a prime example of why they should really stop.

    January 29, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  9. Robert

    The logic of this announcement, and honestly, the logic of anyone who considers this worthy of being called news, is questionable. Who thinks Hillary pushed for this – can't let another candidate get good news – the Clintons like to throw stink bombs at good news if they can't claim credit or bask in its glow.

    January 29, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  10. pete

    The attack on Ted is, one word, "rubbish". Hillary and Bill wanted to label Obama a "Black candidate" in order to create a White backlash. Well, here, Hillary is a "Women Candidate". Maybe we should expect a Male backlash?I bet Hillary is not too happy about this attack. The gender warfare just doesn't play out well for the uniter image Hillary is so disparately trying to portray herself. It is bad news for Hillary. It is counter productive.

    January 29, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  11. Karen

    To NOW ... a suggestion:

    1. Close your eyes...
    3. Then choose your candidate

    but don't be surprised if the candidate of your choice ends up to be "striped or polka-dotted" or heaven forbid neither a man or woman. 🙂 May the best candidate win!

    January 29, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  12. Jack

    Hell has no fury like a woman scorned!

    Is it just me or is the stridency of the pronouncements of NOW stikingly similar to the take-no-prisoners approach of Mrs. Clinton and her co-candidate, Bill?

    If Obama is elected, his moderate and inclusive approach to controversial issues will no doubt be repugnant to the members of NOW – people who do what God would do if "she" had all the answers!

    The ultimate irony will be that Barak Obama's considered and inclusive approach on issues important to woman will do much more to advance NOW's political agenda than their preferred tactic of the "hissy huff."

    January 29, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  13. Pat

    Does every woman in NOW-NY plan to vote gender, rather than issues? That's very scary. This sounds like the bra-burning, man-hating screeching that many of us lived through in the 60's. That is not intelligent, mature or effective. An intelligent, mature woman simply shows the world who she is and what she's capable of, and doesn't throw temper tantrums about how evil men are. If these women all vote for someone simply because of gender, then they are seriously abusing their right to vote and do the country a great disservice.

    January 29, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  14. Freaks

    Some whack job doesn't like Kennedy? So what. What are you idiots talking about? No GROUP made any statement. No GROUP told women how to vote.
    This is one idiot with a big mouth expressing an opinion just like YOU.

    SHUT UP about some whack job not liking Kennedy is Clinton playing the gender card. Your ignorance and stupidity are astounding.

    January 29, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  15. Frank, MO

    Linda January 28, 2008 9:47 pm ET

    Are these women in high school?

    Ha! Ha! Ha! I think that was the best line here !


    January 29, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  16. Christopher

    America has thousands of Women who are far far better than Hillary. I as a democrat will be disappointed to see Hillary winning the primary. In that case for the first time in my life , I have to vote for republicans. I hate power hungry Hillary. Its time for Clintons to go for a vacation. May God help USA

    January 29, 2008 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  17. Kathryn Richardson

    Yes, I agree that Kennedy including Patrick and Caroline especially Caroline should have endorsed Hilary. We need change in gender not color. Women must stick together or we will never gain any ground. It is time to get something positive done. There is too much back patting, cigar smoking under the table and liquid desicions and mistakes being made by men!

    January 29, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  18. Robert

    I should have added: The president of Chicago's chapter of NOW endorsed Obama, and has a video statement on youtube right now telling why she thinks Hillary has been dishonest about women's issues, and therefore lost her vote. Take a look, it is a powerful counter to this shrill and baseless cry from the Hillary camp.

    Logic = a woman is an option. If you don't vote for her, you are sexist.

    Think how Obama would be mauled if he said your racist if you don't endorse him or vote for him....

    January 29, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  19. Garry

    I would like to praise the women of NOW for their opinion on Ted Kennedy's indorsement of Obama. I myself think the indorsement shows one thing, that Obama will owe Ted if he was to get the nomination(which I believe he won't). It also ties Obama to politics as usual and the Washington of old! I am a man from Michigan and also am very upset that my VOTE was taken from me.

    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  20. united for truth

    LOL...LOL . Is Ted Kennedy a woman? What is his business with women political organization?.. If we need a woman not Hillary. Give us somebody else.

    January 29, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  21. sean

    Shut up you crazed harpies!!!! He chose the better candidate for himself!!! Nobody cares if Hillary is a woman or not!!! So let me guess....if he endorsed Hillary that means he isn't ready for a black man to be president? Your chapter actually makes a point against female leadership because your emotional reaction is without logic. You come across as crying, self serving feminist babies...waahhh..waah waah wahh, shut up!!

    January 29, 2008 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  22. Pat

    This is ridiculous.
    I am a woman, and on top of this a firm believer in women's right, but I also believe that the Kennedys have every right to chose a candiate that they believe to be the best fit.
    I like Hillary a lot and I respect her, but let's face it: Obama is a fresh wind and has a huge momentum, in addition to a great resume.
    How great would it be to see them running together in the end. But off course for that we would actually need certain organizations to stop making ignorant comments like this.
    I feel it is rather sexist to stick to your guns because of gender, race or anything else on planet earth that has absulotely nothing to do with politics.
    May the best man or woman win!!!

    January 29, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  23. Rex, Houghton, MI

    NOW is stating that gender is more important than the issues in a presidential race. I always suspected that NOW was a radical organization and now we have proof of that.

    I have received hate email in the past from a Ted Kennedy staffer before but I will support Kennedy this time as he is endorsing the candidate that can best serve our country.

    January 29, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Get real! Kennedy's are all misogynists. It's genetic for them. How could anyone expect that a male Kennedy would ever give a crap women's rights//issues?

    January 29, 2008 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  25. eddie

    In state union, Obama did not hand on Hillary. What a gentleman is? Vote for Obama, the country will be polarized deeper and deeper.

    January 29, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
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