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. Miami _Paul

    I wonder if any of the old boys network endorsed BILLARY?

    If they did can I get mad at them for doing so?

    Can any of the blacks or latino's who support Hillary be ashamed for not supporting Richardson or Obama...

    Should white men be given the cold shoulder for not voting for Edwards...

    Or should people just vote for who they feel most represents them?

    January 29, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  2. Mani2008, NJ

    Its funny how the media and the Obama campaign are accusing Hillary Clinton of making race an issue when its obvious to anyone thats really paying attention that its the other way around. Obama WANTS the American people to think that Hillary is playing the race card but he and the media are the true culprits. The only candidate fixated on race is Obama. The Latin community loves Clinton because she actually cares and not only when it is convenient for her. Hillary and even Bill Clinton have continously fostered their relationship with Latinos throughout their careers. I truly hope Obama does not think that he can insult the intelligence of Latinos by now attempting to reach out to us. He must have just realized the Latino vote is imperative to win. The loyalty that the Latino community has for Hillary Clinton is indestructible.

    January 29, 2008 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  3. Marcy Spencer

    Avoiding a rush to negative judgment of NOW/NY, I went to their website and read the full press release. Curiously, nowhere is Caroline Kennedy's heartfelt endorsement of Barack Obama mentioned. Nary a word. All NOW's wrath is rained down on Ted Kennedy's male head! NOW, it appears, has the same smug sense of entitlement as their "favorite daughter" Hillary. I'm pinning my hopes on Sen. Obama to carry the torch I witnessed JFK bear in the Sixties. P.S. I'm neither young nor African-American. I'm a sixty-one year old white Atlanta native and a supporter of Obama since "before Iowa." The majority of responses to this news story give me hope that there are plenty of others out there who, like me, are filled with joy at the promise this good man brings to our beloved country.

    January 29, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  4. Joshua Anderson

    With all due respect to the NOW: I they are totally wrong about Hillary. The fact is
    with Barack Obama, a number of people will be willing to give him a chance.

    Hillary on the other hand, will lead to nothing good. The same old fighting among the politicians will resume. While we all will just have to be watching them. And nothing getting than. The are some people on the Republican side who will fight
    any and every proposal coming from Hillary, just because it is coming from her.

    We cannot accept such a situation. Obama has not hurt that many feelings yet.
    People will accept him and reject Hillary. Let us forget about the Hillary. Obama will make more changes and others will be more willing to work with him.

    Hillary herself has started the partisan fight already. Just hearing Obama call Ronald Regan makes him mad. Even though he was right in what he said. Ronald Regan, did change the political situation. Although his policies were not acceptable to a lot of people in Congress then, he got them to support him.

    Why should saying that, make Hillary mad? Others are waiting to stand in her way, just as she is also not willing to hear their names. In the end, the country
    will be the looser. So as much as I like NOW and their work, they are on the wrong
    side in my opinion. Let us get a real change. Let us stop fighting and work together on America's propblems. Thanks.

    January 29, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  5. Gail

    Why do women want it both ways? When Ophra endorsed Obama this same group cried out that she was a traitor? Women candidates are evaluated on their merits like everyone and when you act as if its ok for women to vote for women because of gender its a very weak message.

    January 29, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  6. Ed

    You people are pathetic. If (and I pray to the heavens above it doesn't happen) Obama wins the general election, most of you are going to realize you had made the same mistake we made 8 years ago. Enough with this 'hope' crap and lay something on the take that's at least pointedly related to an issue. He speaks in generalities – most likely because he doesn't understand the concepts. I'm a lifelong Democrat, but will quickly go Republican if Obama wins the nomination.

    January 29, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  7. Pam, Tennessee

    GB–I agree with everything you said. I am 49 white and I have been happily divorced for 23 years because I like my independence. I would be very happy to see a woman as President. But I'm voting for Obama.

    It really offends me that this NY chapter accusses Ted Kennedy of being sexist just because he is giving his support to Obama. I read a statement in another forum that said that we women who are supporting Obama are brainwashed by men and are too scared to have a woman for President. This offended me greatly. It's not about the sex of the person, it's not about the race of the person, it's about the character of the person. Ted Kennedy is supporting Obama for the same reasons many of us women have left Clintons camp and joined Obama's–we don't like her and her tactics. And right now our country is in dire straits–we desperately need the best person that we can get to lead our country out of this mess. We can't be fooling around and vote for someone just because they are female and we want a woman in office-while ignoring her lack of integrity.

    If they want a woman as our President, next time they need to come up with a better woman to run.

    January 29, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  8. kiev, San Jose, CA

    what the helk???? This is the funniest thing i ever heard. How can they relate Kenny's endorsement to the disrespect of women rights? This is two different things. Who runs this state chapter. Crazy

    January 29, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  9. Ari

    I just went and donated $25 to Obama.

    I sit back and await for a statement calling me a traitor for being a female that's NOT voting for Hillary. I hope they spell my name properly.

    $25 that Hillary would never get from me even if she dug up my grave and looted it.

    January 29, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  10. Jane

    I want to agree with all of the women, and men, who see the letter from the NY NOW as playing the gender card AND being sexist. I am also 50, caucasian and female as others here.

    The idea of voting for Hillary just because she is a woman is irresponsible. Should I vote for Romney just because he is a Mormon? Or McCain just because he is a Vet? These are things to consider, but should not dictate any thinking "person's" vote.

    I personally believe that Hillary is the worst possible role model for the young women in this country. Her sticking with a cheating, disbarred spouse just for her personal power and gain is the tactic of women who are not able to stand healthily on their own (married or not).

    The disgrace she lends to all married women and the role model she sets when she enables overt lying as a way of life and a way to power is to be avoided at all costs by every thinking woman in this country.

    Women – we have many, many qualified women in our country who would be excellent Presidents. We do not have to worry about missing the chance on this. Just look around and pick women who are actually good role models for our daughters.

    I am a moderate/independent voting "Anybody But Hillary" on election day.

    Thank you,

    January 29, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  11. eddie

    Hillary is the most qualified person for president.

    January 29, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  12. Alfa2

    Who is this NOW. We do not want to elect a woman just because she is a woman. What these feminists think is that whoever they support men have to support. We are in a democratic society and everyone has their freedom to support anyone. We should ban NOW for their radical view. HRC and Bill are so negative in the last few weeks that is one of the reason many leaders are abandoning HRC. NOW should support someone capable and not someone just because who is a women.

    Please both men and women elect someone who is good and not some polarizing figure like HRC just because she is a woman.

    January 29, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  13. Susan

    NOW's position is not only ridiculous but hypocritical. They have touted themselves for years as the vanguards of choice. Senator Kennedy is condemned for his CHOICE which was based on personal conviction and careful consideration. NOW's support of Hillary Clinton is largely based on the fact that she is a woman not on her professional or personal choices. Clinton has flipped flopped on two of the most important issues of our time; immigration and the Iraq War. She stays with a man who is a serial philander and who has repeatedly publically humilitated her. These choices show neither leadership nor strength.

    NOWs position that not blinding supporting the "Cult of Hillary" is somehow a statement against the authority, quality and leadership potential of women. This premise is shallow and faulty. It reduces the idea of choice to a litmus test. Hillary Clinton must be supported or you don't support the advancement of women. This is faulty reasoning and is like saying if you don't support Hitler you don't support Germany.

    I am convinced now more than ever Senator Obama is the right CHOICE.

    January 29, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  14. biz

    Honestly I'm disterbed that Senator Kennedy, endorsed Obama the only ANTI-CHOICE democratic candidate. As a young women this issue is the greatest equalizer of the gender. We are now at a cross roads to rebounding from 8 years of BUSH'S ANTI-CHOICE agenda and now democrats like Kennedy are supporting an ANTI-CHOICE democrat. How are women suppose to move forward?

    I have worked in politics I know first hand how detrimental a "present" vote can be on these real tough issues like a women's right to choice, but at that moment when you take the right vote and not the easy vote you show true leadership...and I'm sorry Obama has not shown that leadership. There is line in the sand either you stand up for Women with a vote, or you are ANTI-CHOICE.

    As a State Senator, Senator Obama voted "present" – instead of "yes" or "no" – SEVEN times on issues related to protecting a women's right to choose.

    For some people this is not their issue but for me and many women across the country it is and they have every right to be mad about any elected officials endorsement of Obama.

    January 29, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  15. JakeG

    Kennedy's endorsement of Obama will not have any effect on Hillary in New York. Anywhere west of the Appalachians and south of the Mason Dixon line support from Kennedy would have negative effect.

    January 29, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  16. Kathryn Richardson

    After reading all these views, I can't believe how people take things out of context. It isn't just because Hillary is a women-she is a very intelligent woman and she isn't the only democrat to get hoodwinked into voting for the war-there were a few others democrats and REPUBLICANS alike. Wake up and do your research!

    January 29, 2008 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  17. Nina

    All these criticisms for the so called attack on Ted Kennedy, how many of you would vote for him for any office. Give me a break!

    January 29, 2008 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  18. Katy

    This is disgraceful.

    -Proud woman.
    Proud Obama supporter.

    January 29, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  19. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Question. Hillary always points out some of the accomplishments she has made and some women, but she never talks about The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, as to what women can accomplish. Have you ever asked yourself why being that Hillary is so supportive for women's equality. Someone please answer this question for me.

    January 29, 2008 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  20. Lisa S.

    I am so happy to see others ara appalled at this story as well. As a woman, a single mother and a very strong-minded independent human, I am offended by NOW taking this stance. Is it just NOW-NY or does the nationally leadership support this "position"? It feels like the Clintons' dirty tricks, getting their surrogates to sling mud and divert the fact that Obama is fully qualified and has the skill set to lead us on DAY ONE into a new and improved America, the kind of America I think most of us want to live in.

    January 29, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  21. Loyce Mason

    As a women and an independant, who really cares what Ted Kennedy thinks.
    If he said to come out of the rain, I would stay in it. I give "no" credence to
    Mr. Kennedy and as for Carolyn, I'm perplexed that she doesn't have a mind of her own and is following blindly in her uncle's footsteps. The more people trash Hillary Clinton, the more it makes me want to vote for her. To demonstrate I am not anti-male at all, I would vote for John Edwards in a heart beat. So Kennedy,
    blah, blah, you can say nothing that would change my mind. Wake up America, Joh Edwards may be "your man"

    January 29, 2008 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  22. Jonny

    I love watching the wheels come off of Hillary's political machine.

    Obama '08

    January 29, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  23. Tottaly FED UP


    This is NOT a suprised at all....

    TEDDY will always be TEDDY.

    Bill accomplished something he dreamt of... office of the PRESIDENCY and he cannot stand to see him there again...

    I remember when....

    January 29, 2008 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  24. KUjHwk

    As a woman, I think NOW-NY's statements are ignorant and absolutely senseless. I'm glad to see the national chapter attempted to do some damage control. NOW-NY's statement sounded like a stereotypical hysterical fit, which harms rather than helps any woman's endeavors in high stakes politics.

    January 29, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  25. Lyn

    As a feminist I'm all for a woman being elected to the highest office in the land. However the legacy that Hilary will leave behind is that the first woman president only made it because she was the wife of a former president. I have no doubt that she is a capable, powerful woman with strong leadership skills. However, I'd rather wait a few more years to see the first female president after in American history to be the analog of Britain's Margaret Thatcher (i.e. someone who made it on her own) in the White House, than to see someone who would go down in history as riding on the coattails of her husband. Even a republican woman in the White House would break the gender barrier and pave the way for other capable females, both republican and democrat, for future seats in the oval office.

    January 29, 2008 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
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