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. 18, white, male

    Who cares what Caroline or Ted Kennedy think, they aren't JFK himself. people shouldn't vote based off of what others think, they should think for themselves...if more tried this country would be so much better off

    January 29, 2008 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  2. RedSea Foreign National

    While I do not agree with NOW, as they are bringing gender into the campaign, however, I feel that Hillary will be blamed for it, just as she was wrongly blamed for bringing race into the process. As for kennedy's endorsement, it means nothing to me, and Caroline's words and reasons for supporting Obama are completely empty!

    The fact is also that the media is involved in a dirty game against Hillary, as well as many people in Congress and Senate, both Republican and Democrat!

    The fact is that Obama is a dirty politician and he is not entirely honest! He lied about his position on the war, and his voting record is exactly the same as Hillary's, and he did take speeches off his website where he voived his support of the war! You can check voting records at congress.org, and you can check historical versions of websites at thewaybackmachine.org.

    Regarding voting records, in additiona to Obama's voting record as a state senator, his voting record as a US senator is that he missed 254 votes in only 3 years! Hillary serving for 7 years as a US senator has missed 143. So this deterines what I think of Obama.

    And while I do not care about Obama's religion and I am sure he is a Christian, he did lie about his Muslim roots. I saw an interview of the school he attended in Indonesia, and he attended the mosque from age 6 – 10, and he was registered in the school as a Muslim! This is not actually a bad thing, so I do not know why he would hide it!

    I do not expect Obama to unite people but divide them, as this is what he is already doing while claiming himself an innocent victom of Clinton while the media is mainly responsible

    January 29, 2008 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  3. Giovanni

    This is disgusting, vitriolic, over the top... Womens' rights aren't advanced by the hoarded support of every women everywhere in every circumstance. Is this a democracy or isn't it? I'm disgusted and ashamed to hear this kind of crap coming out of a group that supposedly represents American interests and ideology... Yeah, I'm a white male, and yes I support Obama, but believe it or not ALL American citizens have brains, and what candidates have to offer or what they lack is important for our decision making.

    How incredibly narrow minded of NY state chapter of NOW. They should be publicly scolded for such a public display of unmerited nastiness and personal attacks.

    January 29, 2008 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  4. ibo

    perhaps if carolyn kennedy was running for president instead of hillary, an endorsement of obama, who's a better candidate than hillary, wouldn't be necessary. NOW-NY is simply following the politics of the past and their view is irrelevant.

    January 29, 2008 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  5. john

    NOW doesn't understand one simple fact: when the time is ripe, America will
    elect a woman. This will not happen in 2008 because Hillary Clinton just isn't
    the right woman. It will elect a woman...but not THAT woman.

    January 29, 2008 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  6. VG

    NOW needs to talk to Hillary Clinton and tll her to stop sounding like a nagging housewife with a henpecked husband. NOW apparently has forgotten the Clinton years.

    January 29, 2008 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  7. Elizabeth

    I think John Fitzgerald Kennedy would turn over in his grave !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  8. Daniel Freno

    This race for the nomination is not about gender. Infusing gender into the race will not bring about change from typical Washington Politics. The Woman's group should get over themselves. They sound like they are endorsing Hillary for the mere fact that she is a woman. Stinks of typical Washington to me.

    January 29, 2008 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  9. Frederick Chan

    We have already seen how the country suffers with a president having bad decision. I can't understand why NOW issues hateful and harsh comments to Edward Kenndy's support of a candidate who is not a woman. NOW is trying to intimidate any promminet persons from supporting anyone but Hilary Clinton in the future simply because of the fact that she is a woman.

    January 29, 2008 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  10. Barbara Bragg

    I agree with the Women's Group that the endorsement was a HUGE betrayal after so many years of the Clinton's so -called friendship with the Kennedys. Not that Ted Kennedy has any credibility at all in the world. He has none. But Barack Obama's smug little face at the State of the Union tonight just made me want to vote for Hillary all the more. I like John Edwards and Joh Mc Cain for that matter more than that little peepsqueak.

    Go Hillary I hope you win and Ted Kennedy has egg all over his face. I do not believe Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States and I do think that Hillary Clinton is ready to lead. For heaven sakes John Edwards would make a better President than this immature idiot.

    January 29, 2008 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
  11. Tracey

    I thought feminism was about letting WOMEN have the rights men do? Since when is Ted Kennedy a woman? And since when is it okay to dictate what another MUST do just because of past mistakes? Isn't that what women fought for? The right to choose? Now they're doing just what the men did to them by forcing, yes forcing, their opinion on a man. Give me a break.

    As another poster said, I'd be willing to vote for the right woman..but Clinton isn't the right woman for me. I fully support Obama and have from the beginning. And yes, I am 100% woman and proud of the RIGHT TO CHOOSE to support him.

    January 29, 2008 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  12. Ron Az

    By Kenady backing Obama, I guess you can deduce that Senator Kennedy has formaly decided to retire from politics. I doubt that he will ever be able to get the votes to be elected again, The women of America will see to that.

    January 29, 2008 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  13. Sérgio, Porto, Portugal

    Actually, this piece of news just shows that there are *SOME* women who want Hillary just because she's a woman...

    January 29, 2008 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  14. Merta K. Frantz

    I totally agree with the NY Chapter of NOW. I was completely taken by surprise by Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama. I have always strongly supported Senator Kennedy and respected him but this certainly changes my view of him and his attitude about a woman for President of the United States.

    I also strongly feel that the National Organization should take the same stand as the NY Chapter.

    Hillary Clinton will make a wonderful President and she has my full support!

    January 29, 2008 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  15. Lindsay

    Is NOW so oblivious that they honestly believe that the only reason anyone might not support Hillary Clinton is because she's a woman and everyone wants to beat women down?? I've got news for NOW: most of the people who dislike, mistrust, and oppose Hillary do so not because she's female, but because she's Hillary. Unfortunately Hillary is neither very likable nor very trustworthy, and her campaign has been far from admirable. Applause to all of the African-American women who told CNN that they cared about the candidates' suitability for the job; looks like NOW is too busy whining about how all their problems are everyone else's fault to care about little things like that. You want us to elect a woman, NOW? Give us one whose entire career isn't built on who her husband is.

    January 29, 2008 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  16. SpecialK

    It's not about electing a woman president or an african-american president. It's about electing the best candidate, regardless or race or gender. Sen Kennedy didn't abandon or disrespect anyone. Obama is a better candidate than Clinton, in him opinion (as well as mine). End of story.

    Obama '08!!

    January 29, 2008 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  17. Ceejay King

    The endorsement of the Kennedy's on monday is a boost to Obama which i hope to yield result. I have confidence that Obama is an epitome of qualitative leadership and he will do greatly well as president.
    I wish him well, it is very pertinent for Obama to know that to whom much is given,much is expected. The younger generation now see him as an idol and a unifying factor for all Americans.He should be more focused on his message of hope for change and should not respond to attacks on him or to his political group/campaign which the old brigades in the American poilitics represents.

    Good Luck.......

    January 29, 2008 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  18. David

    For seven years I dreamed of an Billary Clinton presidencey and supported same when she came forward. But after I was prompted to listen to the two contenders and seeing her reaction to the defeat at Iowa I started having my doubts. The events of the past weeks made me reach a conclusion and now it is becoming clear to everybody Billary/Hillary/Hilliam is not and can not be the president America needs now. It is amazing that when you turn on the heat no matter how hard you try the real stuff will be revealed, what a cheap set of fame seekers, wanting it at all cost. Welldone to everyone who is begining to read between the lines. SHAME on the (Billary/Hillary/Hilliam) CLINTONS.

    January 29, 2008 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  19. Glenn

    It seems like the Clintons are trying to do something Rove was successful with in the past. By appealing to special interests he was able to build a majority of voters by piecing them together, particularly those that were the base of his party. I don't think this will work with the Clinton's audience. The conservative special interests were so adamament about their cause that it didn't matter if the candidate would have adverse effects on other issues. I don't think the dem's are quite so blinded. For one, they saw it done before. Two, their concerns are more broad based. Three, they are better informed. The Clinton's are also going with the idea that if you want to get a compromise, you need to be extreme against the other extremists. More and more American's are moving away from that sort of ideology and instead want to find areas that the opposing sides can agree on to make the government at least functional again.

    January 29, 2008 04:28 am at 4:28 am |
  20. Ceejay King

    The endorsement should not be seen as a gender issue..Our mothers..Women should tell us the truth as always and the truth is asking us to do the right thing. I have the strong believe that our women will not support any thing that will amount to devision or that will dis-unite us so, i see this statement as something damaging and might affect Hillary Clinton's chances as well.

    I have great love and respect for the Clintons on honesty, we don't want such politics of devision any more,gender should never be an issue plssssssssss. The democrats have the opportunity to win the general election but they should avoid anything that will bring devision in America.....

    January 29, 2008 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  21. JStarr

    Nice to know NOW is capable of reading minds enough to understand *exactly* what motivates a person to support a candidate; "Kennedy supports Obama? Must mean he is misogynistic...." NOW decries that there is a stereotype of females that includes vapid reasoning; apparently, the stereotype may have some basis in reality if this is the best rationalization NOW, itself, gives for Kennedy's endorsement to Obama.

    January 29, 2008 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  22. Michael

    I agree with everyone.....there is no way that Senator Ted Kennedy could possibly be biased...or hold any biases against anyone....let alone women.

    Give me a freaking break. No one here knows Kennedy and all of his prejudices. Maybe he doesn't want to see a woman in the White House...especially since his career will end without every sniffing the Oval Office as a President.

    Losers like Kerry, Kennedy, and the rest of their lot....have all known how hard the Clintons have worked over the past two decades for the majority of the democratic goals....and yet....they are backing a one term Senator with a shady history in Illinois politics and no real experience of making change....?

    Clearly...CLEARLY....Kerry and Kennedy have been around long enough not to be fooled by POLITICAL RHETORIC that every candidate dishes out. With Barack having no real experience....it is CLEAR that there are "other agendas' at work other than "who is best candidate as President".

    January 29, 2008 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  23. bill

    So what the womans group is saying that you should vote for Hillary just beacuse she is a women? I rather see bush then Hillary, not beacuse she is a women but because she is Hillary Clinton. We need more then an ex first lady as president.

    January 29, 2008 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  24. susan

    OMG!!! talk about the pot calling the kettle...or worse! this NOW group is sexist to the max! and hypocritical to boot!

    January 29, 2008 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  25. Davies Darius

    Suppose Sen. Kennedy would have endorsed Hillary Clinton, would the statement have read as follows?

    "Sen. Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit African Americans hard. "African Americans have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of .................to name a few. And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment!. He’s picked the white lady over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a black president who is Barack Obama."

    Could NOW give Sen. Kennedy a break!! After all, his democratic right as an American citizen grants him the right to choose whoever he wants to support and for whatever reasons! AND I BELEIVE THAT THE WOMEN OF AMERICA ARE INTELLIGENT, MATURE AND TO WELL EDUCATED TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS AND TO RESPECT THE DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS OF OTHERS!
    Please our dignified women, DO NOT let some organisation speak on your behalf........SPEAK FOR YOURSELF and exercise the power that you have........YOUR VOTE!

    January 29, 2008 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
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