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. BGko

    you said, "However, it appears
    clear that many a powerful man is frightened by the thought that a woman
    could be President."

    I find this statement funny because you're right but not how you think. Many men are frightened by the thought, but not like "Oh no, Hitler's gonna be the President"-type of fright, more like the "Oh man, I hope she doesn't screw this all up"-type. When I think of Hillary, i get the latter feeling. Maybe there's a woman out there with the balls for the job, but its not Hillary.

    January 29, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  2. Steve

    Oh, get over it.

    January 29, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  3. ddc

    Just more nonsense from the National Organization of Whiners.

    January 29, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  4. djnn

    what happened to choosing the BEST person for the job? why have Americans been so blind and ignorant not to see that EDWARDS is that person? Sorry folks, but Obama is no MLK or JFK, get that thru your heads. It's not about race, it's not about gender, it is about the best person for the job, hello? If Obama did not have the big bucks, would the outcome be different? Nor is he a Colin Powell, now that is a formidable man. Also, it is like Edwards has said: POVERTY is this generation's civil rights movement. And as we all have seen, money can buy you anything, even a presidency. Obama is not the person for this job.

    January 29, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  5. Melvin

    That is so dumb! How can a women's organization make those comments against Kennedy. Those comments by NOW-NY are filled with emotional distress instead of intellectual ideas.

    January 29, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  6. Whitney, Nashville, TN

    While I don't agree with what they're saying, I understand where joe and morrow are coming from. Senator Clinton is almost certainly better versed in the specifics of the matters the President of the United States will be dealing with than Senator Obama.

    However, the majority of the problems that plague our country (no universal health care, our addiction to oil and polluting, illegal immigration, unregulated and corrupt financial markets, the housing bubble) all stem from the death grip corporate America has on the Federal Government.

    According to public records, Hilary Clinton has received the most amount of money from lobbyists than any other presidential candidate (including Republicans). Senator Obama (and to his credit, John Edwards) do not accept any money from lobbyists. No matter how much experience any candidate has, if he or she is deep in the pockets of big business, which Senator Clinton is clearly more than any other candidate, we as Americans will only suffer as a result.

    We need a president whose sensibilities and values are in line with the best interests of all Americans. I do believe America's business culture to a large extent made it as rich as it is today, but its reach has gone too far and clearly the Federal Government needs to be more proactive in stepping in to right free market problems (similar to how Republicans and Democrats both agree that the government has a role in trying to stimulate the economy to prevent a recession). How can we expect our president to lead the country in reining in big business' control of the Federal Government if she is more in their pocket than any other candidate?

    January 29, 2008 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  7. Kyle

    Please give me a break.......

    I can't beleive you are saying Senator Kennedy is a traitor because he didn't endorse Hillary. (because he can't handle a woman president?)He couldn't possibly be endorsing Obama because he is the best man for the job in his opinion?

    The last I checked this was a free country.

    Is it possible that perhaps the NOW is simply not ready for a black man in the white house?

    January 29, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  8. jeff

    Ted Kennedy would gladly support a woman candidate for president if he believed that person to be what America needs most now to climb out of this hole that the Republicans have dug over the last 7 years. We need a fresh, bi-partisan, forward looking approach. Clinton is still looking back as is her husband, Bill. That was yesterday, and yesterday is gone.

    January 29, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  9. anti..

    that last comment was bitter, insensitve, unnecessary, and offensive. please do not post it and remove it from the comment blog... thank you

    January 29, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  10. JB SF

    This election has ceased to be about a woman president since Hillary has decided to use her husband as her own spokesperson.

    Yes, I would have voted for a female president but this is not the one. She can't speak for herself and lets a man who was impeached and who personally cheated on her come out to defend her.

    Please. Can we have a president who speaks for "herself" or "himself".

    January 29, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  11. Mary

    "our obligation — to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a president that is the first woman" – sorry, never new before that it was an OBLIGATION of mine as a woman, and of all women, to vote for any woman running for office. Who wrote this – someone on the same diet as Bill Clinton ? Or perhaps Bill himself – sounds like his rantings of late. (note: always supported both the Clintons in the past)

    I applaud Senator Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy both for their endorsements – Caroline touched my heart as only she can. To step into the political spotlight after avoiding it most of her life to join those of us who see in Barack Obama the reflection of her father and his ideals was a bold and courageous move.

    The fact that I, a 49 yr old white female (from NY no less), have never been so excited about a presidential candidate, that it comes on the heels of 8 years in which i found it hard to read about or listen to the politics of the day (with a BA in political science and a masters in public policy, i started following politics in elementary school yet watched my first state of the union in 8 years tonite, having never missed one since my early teens till we got a 'selected' president in 2000).

    NY – NOW you have just added to the muck that has democrats and independents flocking to Obama and promising to vote for McCain in Nov. if Hillary wins the nomination. Kudos to National NOW for distancing themselves from these statements – unfortunately for them, the horse is out of the barn. The pundits are going to have a field day with this one! Obama 08!

    January 29, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  12. angela

    Mr Obama's message has the qualities of a fortune cookie that says something like. "Your life will change" Well, how?? Just not enough specifics in my view. And Ted Kennedy's endorsement just doesn't line up with the "change" Obama keeps eloquently speaking about. We need more specifics and more experience. Hillary will be getting all my families and friends votes.
    I pray this strong , intelligent and capable stateswoman wins.

    January 29, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  13. Jenny

    Are you kidding? Really. You know, I have always believed that a woman would make a great President, and I thought Hillary could prove this, even though I support Obama, but wow, this race has shown me that it's not that easy. Stop crying, women, and act like adults. No one has betrayed you, Kennedy can endorse whoever he wants. Clinton's supporters need to stop acting like disgruntled house wives. If you cry over every little thing and pull the damsel in distress act everytime something potentially gets in the way of Clinton's nomination, you're going to lose a lot of legitimacy. I believe and woman can be President, but not by crying over everything.

    January 29, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  14. reader

    For all of the people who are taking this statement as what "NOW' thinks - it's not. It's what one member thinks. Stop using this as an excuse to criticize NOW in general.

    January 29, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  15. Letty


    January 29, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  16. nason

    WOW!!!!! sour grapes......clintons at it again!

    January 29, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  17. Valeria

    Judging from the statement quoted the NOW chapter in question wants Hillary as president merely because she's a woman. They had nothing to say about the candidates' positions on current issues, probably because they're all similar. I used to like NOW, but this statement makes them look blindly biased towards women. It doesn't sound like a group of thinking women, instead they're reactionary.

    January 29, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  18. Male Californian

    For me it is not about whether Hillary is a woman or whether Barack black, It is about who can lead our nation with a vision that insprire all. Young or Old, Male or Female, Democrat or Republican. Barrack is motivating many new people to the political process. He is a natural leader.

    NOW statements are so in appropriate in makimng this issue of male against female. I did not see them back Elizabeth Dole.

    NOW is so out of touch with the world, They are stuck back in the 60s.

    January 29, 2008 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  19. Jesse

    For pete sake! As if the race issue barely had time to cool down, now it's time to send out the man hating attack dogs of NOW to bring up the issue of gender! I bet you for sure that the media will spin this ridiculous story once again turning away from the real issues effecting this country. I beg to the higher conscious of the American voter to not give this accusation another thought and concentrate on how we can rebuild this broken government.

    January 29, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  20. Holly B


    Calm down! I am a white, 51 year old, single career woman and I wouldn't support Hillary Clinton if she were the only candidate on earth. Please don't vote for Hillary just because she is a woman. Our time will come for a woman to be President, but the divisive politician Hillary Clinton is NOT the candidate! Look at her record! Where would she be without gripping on to the coat tails of her husband! Lets vote for a woman President when she has gotten there on her own merit and leave this election to a unifying leader! Battle of Republicans ag Democrats for the last 16 years is bad enough....please don't turn it into a war of the sexes as well.

    January 29, 2008 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  21. Suzie M. in Las Vegas

    NOW-NY...your statement is utterly absurd. But I do congratulate you. You have managed to alienate the very people whose minds you seek to change and have singlehandedly undone much of what has been accomplished for women in the past thirty years. I cannot stomach a woman who would stay with a man who repeatedly broke his vow of fidelity to her. I too feel she stayed in the marriage only for the power it might one day bring her. Is THIS what we have been fighting for?

    I am a feminist, over 50, and a white conservative Republican who enthusiastically supports Obama and his hopeful message. NUTS to you, Hillary!

    January 29, 2008 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  22. HM

    These statements by NOW are offensive to those of us who listen carefully to every speech, every debate and try to stay informed. Kennedy was quite clear about what he found appealing in Obama and it had nothing to do with race or
    gender, but in Obama's unique talents to inspire and to unite.

    It might serve well for NOW to listen and learn rather than continue the devisive and regressive attacks.

    As a white woman who cares about women's issues as well, NOW has lost my support.

    January 29, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  23. Vito

    TO: Morrow,

    Hillary is not more experienced than Obama, that is just the lie that the Clinton's have been spreading about him since day one. But unlike the Clinton's, I don't need to rely on hearsay and rumor to get my point across.

    Time Magazine – Obama's Varied Record

    The Washington Post – Judge Him By His Laws

    Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia – Barack Obama

    Check em out online. PS. Barack has more years in elected office than Hillary. 8 years as a state senator and 3 as a US senator. Let me see...yeah, 11 is greater than 8.

    Vote for Obama in 2008!
    No More divisive politics!

    January 29, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  24. Jon

    Doesn't this Woman's organization understand that this election is about change and not race or gender. Change doesn't require one to be one color or gender it requires one to have the vision of change. I believe Mr. Kennedy has all the right to choose who he believes has that vision and to him Mrs. Clinton didn't have that vision. And why isn't this organization denouncing Mrs. Kennedy for her endorsement she is a women just as much as they are.

    January 29, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  25. free thinking

    all of this negative feedback is from Ted Kennedy and his obama supporters, so women dont buy into those negative feedback I know for a fact that every time Hillary name is said every possible statement come out disapproving and it because they cant stand that fact that a women dare to run for president. So instand of auguring just show up at the pole and show them let our voices be heard. All of the media talk bad about her and without say it out right say vote for obama. Hillary has not had a fair chance since she announced that she was going to run. let us show them that we as women has always be in charge not just in the home because ladies we know that we can muliti task and can handle stress awhole lot better than men.

    January 29, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
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