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. angela

    CNN, Why have you not posted a single one of my posts for days.?/. it's obvious that you are trying to select our next president because all my friends have posted pro Hillary posts for a week now and none have appeared here.
    You're just not that important – the voters will choose NOT YOU. You've turned your news agency into a TABLOID!!!!! This election will be remembered as the one CNN tried to manipulate.
    Nice try but it won't work. You must have freshman interns running the place.
    You are a disgrace to the Media. I dare you post this!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  2. Cory Fisher


    Basically they are saying, that if you don't like Hillary you are sexist. Way to use the gender card, I really hope this backfires. I am all for women's rights and I am a staunch supporter for equal pay as well as equal control in the household. This is just ludicrous.

    Obama is the guy we need. Not because he is a man or African-American. It's because he is the right PERSON for the job.

    Lets get over the division, and come together.

    January 29, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  3. Chris Fischahs, Los Alamos, NM

    NOW is whacked to think that Hillary must be endorsed only because she is a woman. As Sen. Kennedy correctly recognized, Barack is the better candidate. Geez... no wonder these NOW women continue to be on the fringe – they can not stand Hillary to be judged as a person, instead of as a woman. What ever!

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

    Why did this organization not talk with the then Mrs. Clinton and encourage her to get out of that abusive situtation.? If any other man had been so forthright in acting out sexually we would had said it was time to make an exit. I humbly believed she had her eye on her prize and it really was not as devasating as it would had been to many other women – Hillary was running for this office regardless of what Bill did in that room or any other. Understands no one enjoys seeing a marriage crumble.
    Organizations can endorse but should not expect everyone to do as they do- we live in a democracy STILL.
    People have choices and individual votes – stop trying to stifle thoughts- A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste. No organization is so correct they can or will dictate to everyone in our country and if they can we no longer reside in a democracy.
    Oh how quickly we recall what we did for someone when we feel they crossed our beliefs. This should not even been reported. It was petty like what is expected from women.

    January 29, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  5. Rebecca, St. Louis

    As a woman, I am disgusted by this. Should I support Hillary simply because we are both women? Her dependence on her husband, a known womanizer, in this campaign and throughout her political career should be offensive to women everywhere. I am fully supportive of having a female president, but it should be someone who can run on her own terms, not ride in on her husband's coattails and then have him do her dirty work for her.

    Add me to the long list of women voting for Obama.

    January 29, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  6. Wes Snipes

    Truth is that Obama would make for a president much more in tune with a traditional platform for women's rights and equality than Billary.

    January 29, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  7. angela

    Florida will choose Hillary and the VOTES WILL BE COUNTED!
    Obama's 'fortune cookie' message will go no where and do nothing.
    So sorry.

    January 29, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  8. JohnS

    For those TOO young to remember:

    Bill Clinton wanted to change the constitution to run a 3rd-term for the White House.

    Now Hillary is trying to break the DNC rules to win delegates.

    DO the Clintons have any sense of morality at all? We blame the NH people for rescuring Hillary after a crushing defeat in IA.

    January 29, 2008 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  9. grant

    Unfortunately, with Bill running the show, the endorsement wouldn't really be of her. NOW should be upset by the fact that there's a serious impression that it is not her candidacy, and that she's not calling the shots; Moreover, the shots that have been called have been bad ones. If all the things that Bill did and said in the last two weeks were authorized by Hillary, then she definitely does not deserve Kennedy's endorsement. And if they weren't authorized, then she's not in control.
    Either way, she loses.

    January 29, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  10. jl

    I think the NY chapter did more harm than the endorsement could possibly have done. What's the purpose of us fighting hard every day for credibility and positions of authority if we're going to go and blow it all with a stupid bad PR move like that? Women need to work harder and smarter in this society, and this proves once again why. If we don't, we end up with backlash like this. Shame on you NY. Someone edit those statements before they go out the door!

    January 29, 2008 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  11. Peter

    A female deserves to be the president as well as any other human being. But to say this move by Senator Kennedy was because Obama is a male is sexist and degrades the NOW's cause. Sexism is a two-way street and to vote for someone purely on the fact they are either black or female is exactly what our society has turned into – ignorant. Here's a novel concept, pick up some relevant information and vote on what is going to be done, not on biological differences. Oh but I forgot, trash like Cosmo and US Weekly have informed you with all the data you need to know.

    January 29, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  12. Vitorrio Brooks

    It's only the primaries, and the Clinton's have already turned this early political season into the most ugly and ridiculous, scandal ridden democratic primary in a long while. DO we really want 4 more years of Clinton scandals, investigations and impeachments?

    No more Bushes of Clinton's in American Government. They are all political elities who are funded by the same groups that are destroying our country.

    Remember how John Edwards accused Hillary of taking more money from Oil Company than any candidate, Democratic or Republican? Did anyone hear her refute it? Exactly.

    All I can say about NOW, is that if you want to maintain an image of dignaty in the public eye, don't start whining because someone didn't pick the candidate you didn't like. Jesus, did the NAACP write a press release when Bob Johnson picked Hillary? No.

    You guys are just looking silly.

    Obama 2008.
    Time for all true Americans who beleive in democracy and the future glory of our great Nation to get behind a real leader.

    Vote for Obama on Super Tuesday. Go out and vote and bring your friends!

    January 29, 2008 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  13. K

    first race, now gender. what's next, vegetarians vs meat eaters? Edwards 08!

    January 29, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  14. Bridget

    Just as no one should support Barack Obama simply because he is a man, no one should support Hillary Clinton simply because she is a woman. Women deserve to be treated EQUALLY, and should be held to the same standards as anyone else. It is so discouraging to see women's rights groups acting in this way. I'm so sick of hearing about gender, race, and anything else but the qualities that one must have to be President of our country.

    January 29, 2008 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  15. Siu Chui

    Ted, the last emperor of the falling dynasty, can't face the reality of how small the name Kennedy has became.

    January 29, 2008 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  16. Tony

    Total crazy nonsense and shame on NOW-NY.

    January 29, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  17. gollygee

    I see all the hate mongers are out again.Funny how they are all Obama supporters. Hatred is why the terrible things in Kenya are happening. joe and morrow you said it all.Just one thing. with the Rezko stuff going on the stink of it will linger as long as the court case – all year probably so if Obama wins you can kiss the white house goodbye.

    January 29, 2008 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  18. greg

    Are you serious? Hissy fit or WHAT? Further evidence that the Gloria Steinham feminists are bitter, angry, has-beens. The younger generation know the score - it's not about GENDER, it's about who offers the best vision, judgment, and leadership ability. If the feminists wanted a female nominee they should have encouraged a GOOD female candidate to run, not a mediocre 2nd tier female senator trying to coast on her husband's coattails. Clinton is the PAST, and Obama is the FUTURE. Kennedy has the vision to see that. I'm sorry he hurt your feelings.

    January 29, 2008 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  19. Siu Chui

    The only role a woman can paly and the Kennedys can accept is Merilyn Monro. The Kennedys are feeling threaten by a woman candidate. We have seen all the sex scandels among the Kennedys.

    January 29, 2008 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  20. SB

    How sad – NOW needs to get a grip. You should not vote for anyone based on gender or race, but rather on his or her qualifications. Hilary and Bill Clinton lost much support after their negative, attacking, and race baiting campaign style. Perhaps women and all Americans would evolve to a higher level, if we based our decisions on qualifications rather than gender or race. Equally is NOW's theoretical agenda. However, in light of this attack on Senator Kennedy, and their reasoning for the attack, I would have to question their philosophies. That they would suggest that someone should support any candidate based on gender, is itself against the very principles they espouse. What is the difference between their logic, and a man supporting a man, simply because they believe a man can lead better, or a person of color supporting Barak Obama, because he is a person of color? If true equally is the objective, then I suggest that any decision based anything other than one’s qualifications, works against said purpose.

    I am a woman, and one that is ashamed of the lack of thought put into their statements. Please know, you do not speak for all, or for that matter, any thinking woman. If you want to be taken seriously, please revisit your statements, and logic.

    January 29, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  21. greg,new york

    this just so stupid , it's bizzar even.
    what the hell are they talking about.
    ridculous. just vote for her no matter what? are the people for real.
    anyway AS I was saying, OBAMA 08.

    January 29, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  22. MaryJo

    I personally would not want an endorsement from someone with Kennedy's character.

    January 29, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  23. veronica lynne

    Thankfully, OLD Ted Kennedy will be more of a hurt than a help to Obama.
    Lots of Americans have a bad opinion about Ted Kennedy.
    BY THE WAY–I thought Obama was about the FUTURE, and he said the Clintons were about the PAST, but now he's standing with Ted Kennedy???
    Obama is a joke!
    Of course it really IS all about being afraid to have a woman IN CHARGE.
    Too bad Ted, it's going to happen! Get ready.

    January 29, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  24. Ann

    Thank you, NOW. I simply cannot say enough how disappointed I am in the way that the Washington politicos are acting in this campaign. It is not a party I even recgonize, and I very definitely do not approve. I hope voters are as offended as me. Kennedy does NOT get to award Obama any respect. That must be earned. His endorsement was so demeaning to Hillary Clinton that I sent money tonight just to try to do something positive to speak my mind. I have never been one to write to senators. Kennedy changed that.

    So kudos to NOW for speaking out on behalf of Hillary Clinton and the shameful way she's being treated by Washington.

    I agree with Obama. It IS time for a change. But it's not the type of change he's talking about. That boy's club needs to go.

    January 29, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  25. Mary Adermatt

    Clinton supporters are upset because they think an endorsement for Obama is meant to be against the idea of a female president. On the contrary, it is a vote against Hillary Clinton for president. She and her behavior and slick political tactics are what America does not want. A female president? Yes. Hillary Clinton as president? An emphatic no.

    January 29, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
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