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. Dan

    When will people wake up and realize that they should be voting on the ISSUES!!!!! Why should it matter that Hillary is a woman or Barack is black? Obviously Sen Kennedy agrees most with Barack Obama's political stances. Does NOW really think a seasoned politician like Kennedy pondered the question, "Do I want to endorse a black man or a white woman?" NO!!! Both candidates are not where they are today because of the race/gender, and this sickening campaign to inject race and gender into the campaigns insults both the candidates and the intelligence of the American people.

    January 29, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  2. vicent wright

    we should all stop the disagreement and chose a leader that is going to provide for us health care and economic stability. i beleive obama is ready from day one

    January 29, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  3. Mike G

    People, it's called loyalty...the Clintons have stuck with Teddy before and after his trials and tribulations in his personal life..they have supported the Kennedy family since becoming First Couple in '93...they have supported his programs throughout...and MOST importantly Caroline and Uncle Ted, when JFK Jr. went down into the Atlantic, President Clinton ordered the Navy to do an all out search for him....he would have never been found without all those resources that Clinton ordered...that alone should have been enough for the Kennedys 'family' endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President....as far as I'm concerned, the Kennedys are no longer American Royalty, they are traitors and betrayors !!!

    January 29, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  4. Vlaviana

    The Kennedy's, the Kerry's or the Clinton Haters would not want Hillary Clinton to be President. Good for Hillary because their endorsement will not give Hillary the GOODLUCK CHARM that all the candidates need so badly. Expect the past presidential BITTER candidates to endorse Obama because they were BITTER NOT to be elected president Think about it.... All the Democratic Presidential Candidates endorsed by the Kennedy's did not win the presidency except for Bill Clinton. Al Gore and Kerry were endorsed by the Kennedy's. Did they win?....Al Gore, remember, he has more votes than Bush. How come Bush is the President? Kerry...... He should have just kept neutral because this endorsement will work against him in the future. Some voters will vote for Hillary because they do not like Kerry.

    So Hillary Supporters.....Do not feel bad when some popular politicians endorse a candidate. Voters will vote for whom they did not endorse.

    Hillary WILL WIN the nomination because the Kennedy's and the Kerry's endorse Obama.

    January 29, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  5. Ken Martin, Austin, TX

    "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."

    Isn't that statement a little out of line?

    January 29, 2008 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  6. Phil

    I wonder if NOW wrote that statement, or one of the Clintons?

    January 29, 2008 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  7. Rachel, Storm Lake, IA

    And once again CNN picks up on a story like this and runs with it, I don't even know why I read this political ticker anymore. A week ago in the Congressional Black Caucus debate Hillary and Barack both highlighted their desire to be chosen based on their qualifications and stance on the issues, not based on their pigmentation or chromosomes, and yet Wolf Blitzer and the rest of his CNN cronies continue to play up the race and gender issue. The "Best Political Team on Television" is losing a lot of respect through it's coverage of this race

    January 29, 2008 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  8. Dave

    Now who's playing the gender card? I'll bet Hillary just lost a hell of a lot of votes – I know I won't vote for whoever NOW tells me is OK. For that matter I don't listen to Teddy, either. They can both take their "endorsements" and stick 'em where the sun don't shine.

    January 29, 2008 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  9. michele

    I will vote Republican before I vote for Obama. I am depply saddened and disappointed by the Kennedy decision.

    January 29, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  10. Jack Berkeley, CA

    s.positive January 28, 2008 8:15 pm ET

    **** s.positive Obama's negative ratings were even higher than Hillary's until Oprah gave him an instant blip on the radar screen 🙁 ALL candidates negative ratings are high, even on the Republican side!! It would have been interesting to see this election play out without Oprah's interference.

    As to not being able to win an election with a high negative – you might ask Dubya and Rove about that!!

    January 29, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  11. Hugo M., Ithaca, NY

    Silly ladies! Either they forgot that this election is not about gender and race or they never knew to begin with. It's about who's the best candidate!

    January 29, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  12. Zach

    The sense of entitlement from the Clinton camp is incredible. And she's done nothing to earn it.

    January 29, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  13. Mark

    So let me get this straight – All women should vote for Hillary soley because she's a woman? Didn't the CEO of BET get in trouble for saying that Obama shouldn't automatically expect to get the Black vote just because he's black? Which is it? Should the race or gender of the person or how they stand on issue be their most important quality? Make up your mind, would you!

    Maybe on second thought, you should just keep up the same hypocrisy that's made you the dysfunctional family you've always been! Those of us on the Right are enjoying every minute of this because the more divided you Democrats are, the better our chances of keeping the White House.

    January 29, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  14. New York Dem

    I've been a staunch supporter of equal rights for women my entire life, but NOW's attack against Senator Kennedy goes way too far. It comes across as shrill and unsubstantial, and - even worse - as unfair.

    Everyone who knows anything about Ted Kennedy is fully aware that he's always strongly advocated for feminist causes. And this is the thanks he gets??! Shame on NOW for putting politics before fairness. We've seen enough "Swiftboating" tactics this past week from Bill Clinton; we don't need more of the same from NOW.

    January 29, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  15. Marisol

    Really?? I'm a woman and Latina. I would rather die than vote for Hillary Clinton. I've been an Obama supporter from day one. Just because we have a woman candidate does not mean that we have to follow her blindly into the night. Trust me, she is not Presidential material. I've voted the Democratic ticket my entire life and if she gets the Democratic nomination, I will vote Republican for the first time (or I'll write Obama in as my choice). That's how strongly I feel about this matter.

    You should worry more about Caroline Kennedy's endorsement. She's JFK's daughter and sees Obama as the successr who will carry on her father's quest for change – which means inclusion in the poltical process for all...that incldes women too. You might want to actually think about your position and not just support someone because they are female. Use your brain and pick the best candidate!

    If you want status quo, select Hillary. If you want hope for a progressive society that welcomes everyone, go Obama!

    January 29, 2008 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  16. Tameka

    Tah dah, the gender card. Did the political pundits see this coming? As a black woman I did. I wrote in a blog weeks ago and explained that a woman's scorn should never be taking lightly. We are a force to be reckoned with. You think NH was something, just wait and see what happens now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  17. CA Independant

    The ultimate betrayal? It sounds like a Tammy Wynette tune. Who does now speak for, exactly?

    January 29, 2008 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  18. Gordon

    The " Ultimate Betrayal ", wow!. I do sympathise and feel sorry for all those female HRC supporters and fanatics, to finally have their moment of salvation and self worth so close that they would all join her with tears if they feel that chance slipping away.
    How comforting it must feel to know that the only reason people are more familiar with her name " Clinton " is not because of her " 35 years of service ", but solely because her husband is an ex-president.
    Indira Gandhi , Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher were famous and very powerful female leaders to be admired, but I cannot remember the name of their Spouse or seeing them shed tears to win in the political arena.
    Finally , as a devoted parent , I would be horrified , ashamed and sick to my stomach if my daughters or any female relatives look to HRC as a role model of any sort.
    As a male , I envy the adultery and " Ultimate Betrayal " her husband was able to get away with , but yet women are so excited to turn a blind eye to this in order to be finally validated!. More power to all you " feminist ", if this is what defines you.

    January 29, 2008 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  19. Walter

    Your CNN coverage is Biased, Biased, Biased, Biased!!!.
    "Change that occurs in a vacuum is hopeless. Real change occurs and turns on a firm foundation of past experiences." Obama lacks the experience that Clinton has. Why don't you play this fact up??
    Comments of ALL your journalists on the two democratic presidental contestants, Clinton & Obama, are extremely biased against Clinton. Even in your home-page links you have Obama highlighted. When one clicks on Clinton, the first major headline one sees is about Obama, and not Clinton.
    You are subliminally as well as blatantly trying to suggest to the viewing public that Obama must be the next president of the USA ,by saturating the airwaves with Obama platitudes. Your attempts at being objective are superficial. You are giving Obama a "free" ride.– no real scrutiny; no penetrating questions.
    Any attempt to criticize Obama on his record and depth of experience is interpreted by your journalists as a criticism of his race. And you know that such criticism will play negatively for Clinton. Obama is smart to pretend that his candidacy is "above" race because he knows, understands, and realizes that he can ride the wave of public sympathy for the first so-called African-American to become president. You say you are the "best" political team on TV??? By the way, I happen to be of "brown" pigmentation.

    January 29, 2008 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  20. Kinda Cranky

    It is clear to me, since this was NOW-New York, that this release was orchestrated by the Clintons. It is exactly what they did right before New Hampshire so people would think she was being picked on by the mean old guys. The "Iron my Shirt" trick may have worked, but this one will fall flat. Billary has already demonstrated her callousness and calculating nature. The Clintons will do ANYTHING to win and NOW-NY is clearly taking their marching orders from the folks from Arkansas who live to manipulate the public for their personal enrichment.

    January 29, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  21. Megan

    I think Victoria Woodhull just rolled over in her grave. If NOW wants to complain about Barack's support perhaps their candidate shouldn't cry in an interview and instead should show America what a strong leader she could be by sticking to the issues. The fact that NOW believes that Kennedy is "another white man who can't handle a woman president" makes me believe that they are the sexist ones. I am another women who will not be voting for Hillary. Not because I am not for women's rights but because I AM for women's rights... the right to choose my own candidate based on my own beliefs and my own mind.

    January 29, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  22. terry

    As a lifelong Democrat whose first campaign was for Mc Govern, I will NEVER vote for Obama.
    He is NOT our greatest hope. Time will show he is a fabricated candidate with little substance.
    Shame on the Kennedys.

    January 29, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  23. daniel

    My question to everyone is, why do all these contentious remarks always come from the Hillary Clinton camp? If she cannot control her surrogates and/or lead her campaign can she lead the nation? Is this a taste of the ready to lead from day one she has been touting?

    There are many women who ready to lead i.e Napolitano, Sebelius etc.

    I think in this defining moment in history, in this election the direction is very important, we cann't afford to be led from Iraq to Iran.

    January 29, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  24. Scot

    Where was NOW when Bill Clinton really betrayed women and became a poster boy for good ol' powerful white boys taking advantage of the office help?

    Standing by their man......

    Once again the Clintons have exposed the double standard hypocrisy that NOW is built on.

    January 29, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  25. Bill, PA

    Pushing for just any woman cheapens your cause. Hillary is not the right woman. She polarizes everyone, including genders. The right female candidate would be someone like the governor of Kansas. Her democratic response to the address was very eloquent and inspiring.

    January 29, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
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