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. Barbara

    Wow!!! and this ridiculous statement by NOW/NY is why I burned my bra in the 60s? Talk about whining!!! Grow up gals....and show that you are worthy of the equality we have long fought for.

    January 29, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  2. Al

    This is not important.

    January 29, 2008 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  3. frann

    The bottom line is that Clinton's and Obama's voting records are very similar as are their policies. But Hillary does have more experience, in the United States Senate alone. So, yes, all things being "equal" as a woman, I say vote for the woman. It's time for us to let the world know what a strong capable woman can do. And, yes, Senator Kennedy has betrayed women with this speech and his endorsement. He should have stayed neutral. And how sad to read posts from the "I am a woman and I'm voting for Obama" group. How sad to see some of them trashing one of their own and with petty personal attacks too. They either aren't really women or they just don't get it. It's time women stood together and show that we can get along with one another and we're not the ones holding us back!

    January 29, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  4. Hillary Supporter

    I live in MA and agree that Senators Kennedy and Kerry reserve the right to vote for whomever they want. As a black woman, I'm going to do the same and vote for the one who I believe closely represents my views and will be a great experienced leader, Senator Clinton.

    January 29, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  5. Nanc

    CNN you surprise me. Is my first comment stil in moderation because you don't find it pertinent or is citing Ted Kennedy's history not allowed? The Kennedy men of the generation you all so admire had pretty strict thoughts on what women were good for. I shouldn't have to tell any older members here what those thoughts (or positions) were.

    Why is anyone surprised that gender and race have entered into this election year when what makes it the most historic is gender and race. You must have short memories if you can't remember 2004. The Republicans will throw things at Obama that will make any of Bill's comments look like child's play. Will Obama then exhort them to just be nice and hope? Yes, hope sounds so sweet doesn't it? I "hope" everyone enjoys it when hope is all you have in your pocket thanks to an untried and untested Obama in office. Go do a little reading on the history of Illinois and Chicago politics. He's hiding more than he's revealing right now.

    A strong willed woman in an anathema to many of the men that post here. Pretty much their worst nightmare. They must hold the women in their lives in such high regard. As for the women, most anyway, that are so virulent about Hillary, I just consider the source, probably your husband.

    Should Obama be elected, god forbid, he may find himself rueing the day Ted showed up to lend a hand.

    January 29, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  6. Greg, Houston TX

    This is diversity politics for you. What do people expect? The multi-culturalism/diversity ideology is a tangled web of contradictions that is illogical and ultimately self-defeating, as this story proves.

    January 29, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  7. John, CA

    With the way he's treated the women he's dated or married, what did you expect?

    January 29, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  8. luk

    Hillary doesn't care about INTEGRITY! she's just desperate to keep doing what her family does best. TELLING LIES! And fortunately, alot of people know that, including the Kennedy(s). Change is about FRESH IDEAS! not expired experience. If her experience made her vote for the war, then I don't think I want that! Obama is honest and his conscience will not make him misbehave like Bill and Hillary. If Billary is this rude now, what wil happen in White house? I AM SOOO ALLERGIC TO THE CLINTONS!!! OBAMA IS THE MAN!!!

    January 29, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  9. Lenny

    To HRC supporters, dont be encouraged. Hillary will win.

    We're preparing for Jan 20, 2009.

    January 29, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |


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

    RE: Caroline Kennedy endorsing Obama

    And they said John-John, God rest his soul, was less bright than his sister...she's just dispelled that myth.

    January 29, 2008 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  12. may the greenest candidate win

    I echo many of the comments here. This is not an endorsement of a man instead of a woman. It's an endorsement of an inspirational candidate over a not-so inspirational one. NOW's reputation is going down the toilet because they chose to evaluate Kennedy's decision based on sex and not on merit – isn't this exactly the type of sexist judgement they're supposed to be fighting against? Wow...

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

    If Bill was told to take a back seat the NOW is going to be Bill 2.0. Their course is right but their reasoning and tone is completely out of step.

    We dont want a Bill co-presidency and we dont need a Hillary running the white house on the NOW kind of ideals that brings gender before leadership.

    January 29, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  14. It's the Media

    Thank you Joe. The media and the fools who believe everything they say are pathetic. They love throwing trash to the fools. I'll say it again, the media started the "race" issue.

    January 29, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  15. Californian

    California here we come to deliver victory for Hillary. New York, New York never sleeps for Hillary's victory!

    January 29, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  16. Matt

    I agree that this was probably one of the stupidest statements that a group could make if they want to be taken seriously. The interesting thing is that if you go to the New York state chapter of NOW's website the statement that they now have available is nearly verbatim to the statement released by the national chapter.

    Sounds to me like someone got a little bit ahead of the rest of the group.

    January 29, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  17. Sadie

    Question: How come if I am a woman I must vote for Hillary because she is a woman?

    That's like saying all black people have to vote for Barack because he is black. That is just completely ridiculous and stupid! I would be more than happy to vote for a woman but I am not going to vote for one that I do not believe can take this nation to the place we want and Hillary is just not that woman for me.

    January 29, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  18. Lenny

    HIllary Rodham Clinton.
    Remember the name. You'll see it many times in the coming years.

    January 29, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  19. Unbelievable

    Ok, get it straight, just because NOW-NY said it that does not mean Hillary agreed or had anything to do with the letter. Why is everyone jumping on Hillary? If NOW-NY is so out of touch they would think Ted Kennedy is the kind of man you want endorsing you then think again. I have to laugh when I hear they feel women are betrayed by Ted Kennedy's endorsement, I think you would have to stand in line behind Mary Jo on that one.

    January 29, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  20. Taqkashi

    I am appalled at what NOW proclaims that Sen. Kennedy betrayed women by supporting Sen. Obama. NOW needs to get over this gender issue and think who championed women's and minority rights in US senete. Just because Sen Clinton is woman does not mean women should support her. I am independent from Colorado and i will be voting for OBAMA.

    January 29, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  21. Helen, NY

    This is unbelieveable. CNN TIcker box is getting full with these fools. Obama knows nothing. Show me one bill he has introduced in the senate. He like sto talk big. Now Uncle Teddy has joined the bandwagon...Wise up....

    January 29, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  22. Vicki Morton

    If it's not okay to endorse a man just because he is a man, why is it okay to endorse a woman just because she is a woman? Ted Kennedy has the right to endorse whichever candidate he feels would best serve the interests of the United States, as do we all.

    Women's interest groups have been telling everyone for years that a person's sex has nothing to do with his or her qualifications for a job. What's changed? Why is it suddenly okay to discriminate against a male because of his gender?

    I am really tired of special interest groups and minorities who say, "We're just like you," then ask for special privileges because they're not!

    January 29, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  23. Christopher

    Its too bad to see Hillary as the first woman president. I hope that credit should go to any one of the thousands of ladies who are far far better than Billary

    January 29, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  24. Jean in California

    I'm a woman and I find Now's statement absolutely ridiculous. I consider myself a feminist but I'm on the very tail end of the Boomer generation so I don't relate to these "old school" feminist.

    Furthermore, I find preposterous that they are supporting Hillary who rather than running as a woman has chose to run as Billary because she can't stand on her own record but needs her husband to strategically play attack dog. Hillary said she found her voice in New Hampshire...strangely it sounds like Bill's.

    January 29, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  25. Lenny

    If you republicans stop crossing over to vote, Hillary would be 5-0. Stick with your own party. LOL

    January 29, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
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