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. Templier

    What? Ole Teddy isn't backing ole Hillary? OH MY GOD!!! The world is coming to an end!!! Game over man!!! Game over!!!

    So what if he's backing Obama. I thought it was a free country. At least he's not backing one of the Republican candidates.

    January 29, 2008 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  2. jyfranca

    It is the same old trick by clinton.Kennedy has right to endorse anyone who he feels can win.Hillarbill clinton is woman/man/ex president but obama is african american.Kennedy has done what is the best of his party

    January 29, 2008 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  3. Kevin

    Claiming that endorsing anyone other than Hillary Clinton is a sexist act is utterly ridiculous. Perhaps if Sen Kennedy had endorsed Sen Clinton then the NAACP could issue a press release calling Kennedy racist? Good people in public life of sound character and judgement are going to endorse candidates over the coming weeks and months. Failing to endorse a candidate favored by one rabid, myopic, single-issue group does not make someone sexist or racist.

    January 29, 2008 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  4. Yolanda Purnell

    Do they ever stop!!!!! First the race card and now the gender card? I am afraid to see what's next !!! ABC( Anybody But The Clintons) LOL

    January 29, 2008 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  5. Scott , Frederick, MD

    wow, what a rant. On the likliehood this will get blasted as cheuvenistic, was someone PMSing when they wrote that? As for Obama, this NOW chapter needs to get a clue. This was the kiss of death. Maybe Kennedy holds sway in the liberal left, but not mainstream. Bye Bye Obama.

    January 29, 2008 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  6. Jim Warner

    The male controlers of our society will never allow a Woman to become President in our Lifetime because it is seen as a loss of male control which our male power leaders such as Kennedy can't allow because their egos and world would never be the same.

    January 29, 2008 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  7. MM

    Ted and Caroline Kennedy are trying to protect their families' legacy bottom line. The Clintons pose a dire threat to this because, if Hillary wins, they will the First Family...literally. Now, let's not forget that the descendants of Bobby Kennedy are ALL supporting Hillary. Why? Sounds like a political sham. Obama doesn't waste time rubbing elbows with the status quo. Get away from it and vote for Hillary!

    GO HILLARY!!!!

    January 29, 2008 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  8. Lindsay

    p.s. to those couple of commentators who claimed that everyone else's comments were stupid for not recognizing that NOW was really just pointing out that Hillary is much more qualified than Obama and that all of Hillary's "divisiveness" is the Republicans' fault, I beg to differ. Number one, that was clearly not what NOW was saying, although they ought to be grateful that someone out there is giving them the benefit of the doubt. Number two, you have every right to prefer Hillary as a candidate, but some of us disagree with you over which qualifications are most important to the presidency. No president needs to be an expert on everything or have "experience" to be good at it. Many great men have been awful presidents, and many men of small experience have been great presidents. Any good president will rely on advisors and experts to help him understand issues and make good decisions. I don't want a president who thinks she knows all the answers to everything already. I want a president with principles and a strategic vision who will then be able to negotiate with the 1/3 to 1/2 of the people in the country who didn't vote for him/her to come up with something workable. So be my guest and support Hillary for her "experience", but don't tell everyone else they're stupid for preferring someone who recognizes a principle when he sees it.

    January 29, 2008 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  9. Willy

    It's a Kennedy. Did you expect a straight shooter? Get wise. They represent socialist values.

    January 29, 2008 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  10. Paula

    I am a woman and I will not vote for Hilary. Do they think that women do not have a brain! Come on!

    January 29, 2008 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  11. anne treasure, St. Croix, VI

    I guess the Congressional Black Caucus has "betrayed" Obama... if you use the same logic.
    And if we are suppposed to vote based on melanin and sex organs, who are white males and black females supposed to vote for?
    If MLK were alive, his updated speech would say "judged not by the color of their skin or the presence of a Y chromosome, but by the content of their character"

    If now is so sensitive about gender, they need to focus on telling their "girl" to stop having her husband speak for her, like she can't handle her business. Stay on the issues, NOW, and stop giving automatic endorsements.

    January 29, 2008 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  12. Simone

    I am so sick of hearing this! As a woman who's voting for Obama, I'm often sickened by the claims made by one special interest group or another –

    This is not Men Vs. Women or Black Vs. White – This is who is going to better our country – who is going to be a strong, intelligent leader with our best interest at heart.

    I wish these people would wake up and smell the impending doom brought about by crappy decision making processess...

    Give me a break, NOW! Take your feminazi ideals elsewhere.

    January 29, 2008 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  13. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Funny how I, liberal as they come, am going to vote for a white male Republican this time around.

    Why? IT'S THE WAR, STUPID!!!!

    Every single Democratic candidate has flipflopped and pandered all over the Iraq issue and I DON'T TRUST ANY OF THEM anymore. A few months ago Hillary and Barak were practically competing over who was going to nuke Pakistan first! Give us a BREAK! How stupid do they think we are?

    The Democratic party has betrayed my trust, Nancy Pelosi most of all. What a HORRID job our first female Speaker has done so far. To elect ANOTHER crappy legislator just because she has a vajayjay is STUPID. What a way to KILL the feminist cause.

    Elect Clinton to office and just watch how we stay in Iraq and lose our sovereignty to the NAU. Clinton is one of THEM. A neocon. A Pod Person. A Bilderberger. A Globalist whose priorities are not with US. FORGET IT.

    White, Black, male, female, I don't care. My petty insecurities over race/gender and pet "issues" (choice, health care, etc.) are NOTHING compared to what the people of Iraq are going through. THIS IS GENOCIDE, PEOPLE! Don't you SEE?

    January 29, 2008 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  14. Paula

    I am over 50 and will not be voting for Hilary. I would not vote for any woman just because she is a woman. I would like to know who is in this chapter of NOW!

    January 29, 2008 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  15. soldier

    Once again: Feminists demand that we support whoever they want. It doesn't matter that men don't want Hillary Clinton specifically- to win, NOW perpetuates the lie that if you don't support Hillary Clinton, you are opposed to a woman president. We are not allowed freedom of thought in NOW's world- just bow your head and do what you are told! NOW is fascist.

    January 29, 2008 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  16. meadowlands

    NOW would vote for anyone as long as it is a woman. They could care less about who the best candidate is. Their endorsement of Clinton proves it.

    January 29, 2008 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  17. Terry

    Get over it, Obama is the best person for the job it has nothing to do with gender.

    January 29, 2008 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  18. Ray

    Hope this does not mean the Republicans will come to power again! Yes race or colour should not matter however we have seen from actions it is not that simple and if Mr. Obama wins the democratic nomination will he open the republicans another chance to win the elections for the president?

    January 29, 2008 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  19. jaz

    If Barack Obama was a woman he wouldn't be getting the time of day. His young, new generational theme, if offered by a woman of similar age and inexperience, would be judged as almost cute

    January 29, 2008 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  20. G Morgan

    I am also extremely disappointed in Sen. Kennedy. Being of Irish
    decent, Catholic, Democrat and a woman, I also feel betrayed.
    How can he possibly justify supporting a man with little
    or no expierence. Barack Hussein Obama hasn't even
    finished his first term in Washington!
    This make absolutely no sense to me!

    January 29, 2008 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  21. Greg

    Just another example of the destructive rhetoric of special interest groups.

    January 29, 2008 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  22. Anonymous

    A women's group playing the victim?

    January 29, 2008 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  23. J. Rhinehart

    Well it's a matter of numbers. NOW should know that there are more Hispanic and black votes to be gained vs the white women vote.

    January 29, 2008 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  24. Lee - Warwick, RI

    Yikes – this gives feminists a bad name!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  25. chris

    do we really care so much what the ageing Senator thinks – he has one vote and I think he just wasted it...

    January 29, 2008 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
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