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. sarra

    One thing you guys forgot it doesn't mean any thing that ted kennedy backed obama means that he will be the nominee so chill down and we will see on feb 5 . What i don't like is the media already portrait hillary as bad choice always what ever she said excgurate by the media and always portrait obama as saint don't forget John will win and you will be surprized

    January 29, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  2. anita

    The women's movement has given me the opportunity, as a woman, to vote for the person I feel is best suited for the job. I would love to have a female president, but I cannot support Hillary Clinton. As a polarizing figure, I think she's George Bush in a pantsuit. She would probably do a good job, but Washington would never giver her the chance. She simply has too much baggage. I support Barack Obama.

    January 29, 2008 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  3. Kathleen

    The Kennedy's have always harbored ill will for the fact that President Johnson always gets credit for implementing civil rights laws initiated by Pres Kennedy after being so inspired by Martin Leuther King–and when Hillary made that comment about King and Johnson she should have chosen her words more carefully, because she has the right stuff. But not only did she offend the King fans, but probably opened an old wound for the Kennedy's. Notice that Caroline Kennedy so tactfully clarified her father's role in civil rights in her OP Ed to the NY Times. I bet that lack of foresight in her statement is what pushed the Kennedy's over the edge to Obama's court.

    January 29, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  4. Mani2008, NJ

    So is Ted Kennedy now supposed to be to Barack what Bill is to Hillary?? Is he and Barack now the new super couple in politics. Thats very interesting. Funny how I just saw a picture of Ted Kennedy and the Clintons sailing some years ago. They looked like they were having fun. Sounds to me like a means to protect the Kennedy dynasty from any other political families. Even Ted Kennedy isnt focusing on the issues. Maybe Bill is a better sailor.

    January 29, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  5. Moodi

    Don't you think that you are going back to your supporting clintons strategy after maybe your behind the curtains agreement with them?

    January 29, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  6. Jane, Las Vegas, NV

    What a bunch of lunatics. These women put their own "movement" to shame.
    Are they actually suggesting that people must vote for Hillary Clinton to prove their support for women?
    How about the numbers of women out there (myself included) who just don't prefer her as a candidate?
    What a joke! Just because she's a woman doesn't mean she's THE woman to take on the task of being first woman president. And, just because someone feels that way doesn't mean they don't support women.

    January 29, 2008 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  7. Daniel D., Eugene, OR

    Two questions for NOW:
    Where were you when we worked to Shirley Chisholm elected?
    Where were you when we were defending the ability of women to work in the coal mines in CO?

    Their answer to the second question at the time was: "We are only concerned with Professional women." They could have added "white" and said what they really meant; because they weren't around the campain either.

    Like all the liberals of the sixties they talked the talk and all the rest of us could use the back door.

    If the Billary dog and pony show win, the rest of us had best have a year's supply of food on hand. Watch CBS' "Jericho" to see what will happen.

    January 29, 2008 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  8. IND.

    From an "elderly" "white" lady. My choice was Obama long before all this petty stuff back and forth. Feel the HC would say, do, or even pay anything to get Ted's endorsement. He did not say anything negative about her but made his choice as I had. Now each should make their own - without trying to justify it and/or maligning those who don't agree.

    January 29, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  9. Azar

    What a dumb statement by NOW. Where were they when Bill Clinton was abusing his female subordinates while at the Governor's Mansion in Arkansas and at the White House? Where were they when Hillary Clinton not only defended her husband, but also, hired two private detectives to go after her husband's accusers? Didn't those female subordinates have rights? Did NOW protest to the Clintons? Doesn't NOW realize that Obama is a better candidate and that the Clintons have lots of baggage with them?

    January 29, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  10. Blue

    Its a ridiculous statement. Teddy backed Obama because he was angry with Bill Clinton for not shutting up and he saw similarities between Obama and the Kennedy vision of his brothers. I totally see the connection.

    This woman's group is just being sore losers because they did not get what they want and it is stupid. It makes no difference to me though. After seeing how fiscally, militarily and patriotically irresponsible the Republicans are they will never get my vote unless they completely overhaul their party. I have never seen more constitutional violations in my long life. Its sad, its criminal and its treasonous.

    I'll vote for either one despite endorsing Hilary early on. I would rather the liberals spend money helping our own people than watch Republicans squander it on people who did not want us in their country in the first place. Its time that we take care of our own suffering and not force democracy down innocent peoples throat at the edge of a sword. Iraqi's never attacked America or engaged in terrorism. But they do now thanks to one George W. Bush.

    January 29, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  11. Josh

    This whole thing is silly. I can't recall more bickering on the democratic side before this election, mostly coming from the Clinton camp whom I used to at least respect. Of course last time we had only the feeble Johns, Kerry and Edwards to stand behind so there wasn't much worth bickering to begin with. Honestly though, the people who have said that this is a blow to women because they have supported him all these years should realize that if he chose Hillary, all the men who supported him could, in theory, come back with a similar retort and then they would be calling the men ridiculous and sexist. Also I agree with those who said that Kennedy may have factored the Clinton's recent dirty tactics against Obama into his decision making process, as well as all of the good things that Obama stands for. Personally I think most people aside from genuine chauvinists would welcome an adequate woman president with open arms, but this time, the only woman running doesn't quite have what it takes.

    Also, I am VERY disappointed in Bill Clinton's recent behavior to say the least.

    January 29, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  12. Joe C. Smith

    I support Hillary for president BUT I more strongly want Obama on the ticket, and Kennedy's endorsement voices the fact that if Hillary wins the nomination, but refuses to select Obama as her running mate, she will probably lose the election.

    I, for one, would probably not vote for Hillary if she doesn't choose Obama, and I am certain Obama's supporters would turn away from Hillary too – Dems lose to Republicans then. But if the democrat ticket is Hillary and Obama, for Pres/VP, statistically they have a strong plurality and would surely win the election.. And, we would all be able to trust our government. Barack would be the most powerful VP in recent history, and Hillary is among the smartest people in politics I've ever seen, much stronger than her husband in so many ways... and she has a big heart, cares deeply. It would be so great if they win.

    January 29, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  13. Anu

    I'm just glad that the national group has distanced itself from NOW New York on this absolutely absurd non-issue. That is the same as saying all those people who supported Clinton are "progressive white men" who cannot stand the idea of a black man becoming president. Whoever wrote that op-ed SHOULD be fired. Seriously! Talk about stupidity at its highest.

    January 29, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  14. WNC

    Ted Kennedy is only backing Obama because he couldn't stand a woman as president!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait till they find out about the real Obama and his dirty
    little secrets.Oh yes Obama is for change he is trying to change your social security benefits.People are not for him because of what he believes as in SC
    they turned out because of his race.Polls showed it was the highest African American turn out.Ask yourself why?Because he is black nothing more,half
    those people don't even know his views.

    January 29, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  15. Ben

    This is ridiculous. I'm totally a feminist – a stay at home dad with a wife who I love and respect – but this group makes me mad.

    N.O.W. needs to and stop using gender as justification for a presidential bid. Feminism is about erasing gender constrictions ... not creating new ones.

    January 29, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  16. Katie

    give me a break! as a woman, i'd love to be able to help elect the 1st woman president. however, hillary clinton is not the answer, and i will not vote for her just because she is a woman.

    women for obama!

    January 29, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  17. C

    We will not vote for a man or woman who lies that they have 35 years of experience when they do not!!!

    January 29, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  18. James Curran

    A couple things are lost in this whole thread.

    1. Bobby Kennedy Jr. is still behind Clinton.

    2. His sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend still backs Clinton.

    And, really lost in all this, is JOHN EDWARDS IS A BETTER CANDIDATE THAN BOTH OF THE OTHERS! He has ideas for America and Americans.... and I'm a Canadian looking in from the outside.

    The media has diliberately left Johnny on the outside and made this battle a two way race before it even started. Shame on all of them for ignoring a guy that ran for Vice President already and knows what it's going to take to win.

    Did I mention Kevin Bacon is backing Edwards? Yep. Kevin Bacon

    January 29, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  19. soreneagle

    Would Teddy be racist if he supported Clinton?

    January 29, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  20. seth, minneapolis

    wow. what a bunch of crazies.

    January 29, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  21. AVoiceofReason

    oh shut up and get over it!

    January 29, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  22. Paul, CA

    Stupid women. They give actual women a bad name. Shame on them. They are their own caricature. And they and other special interest groups on all sides are proving what a pathetic state of affairs our society is in.

    January 29, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  23. kd

    On the day that Obama gets a huge endorsement, CNN surrounds it with articles of Rezko and the notion that not supporting Hillary is a "betrayal" of women...In the words of Bill, "Give me a break!"

    January 29, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  24. michigan

    maybe he just believes that obama will be the better president

    January 29, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  25. Jordan

    More often than not, I am ashamed of NOW and the fact that the organization claims to speak for my gender. I would love to see what a female president could do for the United States, but I have no interest in seeing Hillary Clinton take the first shot at it. I'm sure that if Senator Kennedy disagreed, he would have endorsed her over Barack Obama. It's clear he understands that Senator Obama is a far better choice both for who he is as a person and leader and because the Democrats have no chance at winning back the White House if Senator Clinton is the nominee.

    January 29, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
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