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. vicky

    I'm a women & I support the Senator and will be grateful to him for ever!

    Why Obama!

    Because, first, he combined the ultimate in academic achievement with actually acting out what he announced to be his professional priority: public service. Then he demonstrated quintessential leadership qualities that marked him as a prodigy in politics as well as in academia, and resulted to his election to the Senate at a very young age. Next, he demonstrated selfless dedication to the interests of his constituents. Next, he voted according to his principles regardless of political pressure, demonstrating integrity. And finally, because he is focused on a vision that this nation badly needs at present.

    January 29, 2008 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  2. Lynn

    I am woman and have no intention of voting for Hillary Clinton. People should vote for who they think can do the best job, and should not let race, creed nor gender, influence them. If more people voted that way, maybe we see better results, voting for Hillary Clinton because she is a women and your a women, is ignorant.

    January 29, 2008 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  3. claude, calgary

    What a great endorsement for Obama, to have Teddy and Caroline put there support behind renewed energy by Middle age and new youth in politics. The politics is damaged and there is a recongition that something needs to be done.

    Obama is running a campaign that is capturing a new electorate. Its unfortunate that established machines like, Clinton News Network, and National Womens Coalition both based out of New York will go to great lengths to polarize this race.

    Obama wife is a very stong and smart individual and I am almost certain that Mrs. Obama will not let Barack minimize womens issues.

    This is my oppinion only! It would be great to see a women run for the White House but NOT Hillary, I think many would agree Hillary is more of the same old politics and Hopefully the Womens Coalition will look within there own groups to look for a new and not so currupted Candidate.

    Hillary sold out to Lobbist groups with her years of experience.

    I want my America be about a new youthful leader that understands the challenges of up and coming youth , middle age and Seniors within all religion, sex and race.

    In no way do I see Obama as being polarizing. Why can't this new America have diversity within race and religion. I want the America where Afro Americian, Asian, Hispanics, Native Indians European dissendants, Christians, Muslims working together eating together and respecting each other.

    Is there any other Candidate that is not so polarizing !!!!! Take a good look?

    Obama in 08

    January 29, 2008 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  4. flimo

    That's just another part of the "hillarious" Clinton campaign. Don't buy it.

    January 29, 2008 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  5. Bob

    For NOW to forgive Ted for all the things he has done is quite stupid. It's like the battered wife syndrome. They should have divorced themselves from him in the '60s.

    January 29, 2008 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  6. Steven Furtado, Kunkletown PA

    I would gladly support a female candidate, just not THIS one. Frankly I think they're are much better and more qualified female politicians in Washington that would make much better presidents than Senator Clinton.


    January 29, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  7. alex,london,UK

    hey all you hysterical billary robots get a life not everyone thinks she is hero worship material

    January 29, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  8. Julie

    CNN.com, why are you giving front headline coverage to this women's group's illogical and counterproductive attack on Senator Kennedy?

    The candidate Senator Kennedy endorses is supported by a significant portion of the female population. As an undecided female voter leaning towards Obama, the group's attack makes little sense to me. If Senator Kennedy (who I believe has also been a personal social acquaintance of the Clintons), had endorsed Senator Clinton, by the logic employed in this NY women's group statement, he would be a racist for not supporting Senator Obama. Not a very sound (or relevant?) argument for this election, either way. To me this actually seems to set us, female American voters, back a step or two on the social landscape, in terms of how we approach selecting a candidate.

    And as Senator Kennedy is a public servant and politician, I believe that in his endorsing a particular candidate, he is standing up for what he believes is best not only for the female American community, but for the nation as a whole. How is this a betrayal to females?

    I'm confused as to why this bizarre statement was given such a salient presence on your homepage. Is it to counter the positive coverage, endorsements, and apparent momentum of the Obama campaign perceived through other CNN election coverage?

    January 29, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  9. Renee

    The Kennedy's have every right to endorse whom ever they feel is the best one to lead this country in a postive direction and to the Kennedy it is Obama So everyone who is not in agreement will just have to accept the fact that the Kennedys feel Obama would be best as the President. Shame on the NOW The Women's Group. I am a women and they don't speak for me and my vote is for Obama.

    January 29, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  10. Dan

    HILLARY 08

    Power to the People!

    January 29, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  11. alisa

    As a BlackAmericanWoman from California, i will not vote for Barack Obama....he's a phoney... Did any of you people read what the statement said? Beside's STOP HATING THE CLINTONS.......Mrs. Clinton is better qualified. Get over it GIRL's and boy's.....LOL.

    January 29, 2008 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  12. lupin the 3rd

    Reading your comments above, I can hardly decide whether you are less ready for a black or a female president.

    January 29, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  13. QuietStormX

    NY NOW, Hmmm. Who wrote that? It's so shallow to accuse someone of something against women, when it was not shown. I suspect the Clinton campaign put them up on this. It's shallow to think women just vote for any woman no matter what. This letter seemed like that. Do your research and pick the candidate you like for issues not sex or color...

    January 29, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  14. J.C.T.


    January 29, 2008 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  15. Carter

    Don't Worry, Hillary will be the next president. I'm confident her experience and dedication is not matched by Obama. Barack, the junior senator, is no better than any of the other candidates.

    As long as half the world's population still has a hard time living justly and freely, I'll vote for the one who can give the biggest hope to the 3 billion women on the planet who still have to fight for education, health care, the freedom to vote, and the freedom to choose a mate, if they want one at all.

    The best times, wages, smallest deficit, best international face was during Clinton presidency. We need them back.

    No offense to the people who are mesmerized by a smooth talking pretty boy.

    I will not be moved on this one.

    January 29, 2008 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  16. Fran Martin

    Given the sexist attitude that NOW brings to public discourse, it is beyond belief that the organization has not criticized the Senator from NY for running a campaign based on her relationship to her husband.

    January 29, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  17. J.C.T.


    January 29, 2008 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  18. John

    I haven't learned anything about senator obama other than cry foul and blame Clinton. Is it what we get along with obama (god forbit get the nomination?)
    I hope people examine before they vote
    The only hope for change and prosperity the country has is HILLARY

    January 29, 2008 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  19. Fyr

    This is great. This comes to show how desparate the Democrat nominee lineup is and that they are willing to play the race/gender card, do anything just to taste that presidential power.

    Ultimately this divisiveness within the democrat party will sway people to the other side.

    January 29, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  20. Joelle, Milwaukee, WI

    Rafi, NY NY January 28, 2008 7:46 pm ET

    To the actual statement, though… How totally, completely, infuriatingly absurd that NOW-NY claims the only reason Kennedy picked Obama is because he can't handle a woman being president.

    Newsflash, you morons… There are many, many women who would make a better president than Hillary Clinton. They're unfortunately not running.


    January 29, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  21. Bad move by NOW

    I'm a woman and think it pathetic that anyone would think Senator Kennedy is endorsing Obama, just because he doesn't think Clinton is suitable to be President due to her gender. Absolutely absurb! For NOW to suggest that and to support Clinton only because she is a woman, indicates that NOW is a sexist organization.

    Kennedy has been close friends with the Clintons for years and supported them for years. Did you ever think Kennedy endorsed Obama partly because of the Clintons' shenanigans over the past few weeks? Kennedy had already warned Bill Clinton to clamp down his harsh and questionable rhetoric of Obama, only to be ignored. So, if you want to blame anyone for Kennedy's endorsement, blame Hillary herself for letting Bill take over the stage.

    NOW's complaint is silly and puts women's lib in a bad light.

    January 29, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  22. Deangelo

    Simply further evidence that Hillary is polarizing and can offer little beyond an additional four years of the same contentious politics.

    January 29, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  23. Igor

    I would like to remind the NY chapter of NOW that we still live in a remotely free country and we have the right to support anyone or endorse anyone we feel most connected to. And also just to netion one more thing, Kennedy did not knock or discredit Clinton or Edwards and praised both of then for running but he feels that Obama is the best person for the job as he is inspiring people and giving hope to people that the American Dream is still much alive. Some advice for the next, Think before you Act.

    January 29, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  24. Bob McDonald

    Obama has lost any chance of my vote now that he has joined with the Kennedys. I want nothing of the "change and hope" that comes with Ted Kennedy. The real Obama has been exposed.

    January 29, 2008 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  25. JustSomeGuy

    Perhaps what's most distressing is the fact that the Democratic primaries have become distilled to the point of containing the primacy of concerns between race and gender, not foreign policy, immigration, health care, education, etc. Well done NOW-NY also, in splitting the lines of the Democratic party into either a bunch of raving sexists or bigoted racists. What is immensely heartening amidst this conflagration of plebeian stupidity, however, is reading the (majority) of comments regarding this story and statement, and realizing that an overwhelming number of people see right through the thinly-veiled idiocy of statements such as the one in this article from NOW-NY.

    January 29, 2008 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
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