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. Billie

    Let's face it women. Not many men want a woman to be President. We are so behind the times in this country. Look at how many other countries have already chosen women presidents. Even Pakistan had a woman Prime Minister and they supposedly look down on all women. The United States is not as progressive as they want other countries to think we are. The proof's in the pudding or in your pockets. We still can't make the same salary as men. Give me a break. We need to quit preaching that we're all this in the U.S. and start proving it. So the majority of men will never vote for a woman in the U.S.

    January 29, 2008 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  2. Alecki

    What is going on with this coverage. Can we please hear what is behind the suit of Borak Hussein Obama for a CHANGE. Hillary and Bill Clinton have been under a microscope because of the media. Let's take context out of Obama's rally and rip it apart for a change. I know we will never see that.

    This coverage is so biased against the Clintons it's rediculous. Please report the news and policies of candidates so the American People can make an intelligent decision on who to vote for in this election.

    January 29, 2008 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  3. DHH

    In the article it states that the NYS NOW organization has overlooked several of Sen Kennedys shortcomings and late support of several key programs that NOW supports. It seems that the betrayal belongs to NOW for supporting Sen Kennedy when he apparently does not really believe in their cause. They supported him because he had something they wanted – his vote, as soon as they don't get it – they attack him – seems like politics as usual.

    January 29, 2008 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  4. mgleaso3

    I, too, am a woman who has fought hard to acheive some level of parity with the men I work with, but I could never support Hillary Clinton for president. Her campaign's reprehensible behavior is the issue, not her gender. I would love to see a female president, just not this female!

    January 29, 2008 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  5. PMitchell

    This statement from the NOW is utterly RIDICULOUS! Hillary Clinton is not a representation of ALL women. As a WOMAN, I WHOLE-HEARTEDLY endorse Obama. I applaud Mr. Kennedy for following his heart. I believe in Obama's POSITIVE platform and want to do away with NEGATIVE OLD POLITICAL TACTICS like MUDSLINGING and make way for NEW, FRESH ideas.

    If you want to punish and SHAKE YOUR "SHAME" FINGER at any man, it should be MR. CLINTON; tell him to allow her to SPEAK FOR HERSELF.

    That's how she lost my vote!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  6. Scott

    Oh, let's all pretend to be victims, now, shall we? Hilary Clinton would make the absolutely worst president in history. Anyone, woman or man, who would suggest SHE be elected because of her sex is pernicious and thoroughly sexist. I used to be a NOW member. Never again.

    January 29, 2008 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  7. brende

    Caroline Kennedy is also a woman, she endorsed him first, a choice pf a woman respected.

    January 29, 2008 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  8. Eric

    This kind of behavior turns me right off their cause. Ted Kennedy is allowed to endorse whoever he wants and that does not make him against women. I wouldn't vote for Barrack or Hillary but people can support whoever they wish and that doesn't make me think THEY ARE AGAINST WOMEN!?? I don't buy into their argument.

    Vote Ron Paul 2008!

    January 29, 2008 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  9. Mike

    What nonsense ! There are a lot of women that would make a good, if not outstanding president. Hillary Clinton is not her.

    January 29, 2008 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  10. james

    Mabey Obama is gonna get his friend to sell Senator Kennedy a house on the other side for 300,000 under asking price after he pardons him . That could get his support, it worked for Obama....

    January 29, 2008 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  11. Chacha

    Can we all nudge CNN a bit and ask them to focus on "REAL ISSUES"? I know several of us are supporting our own candidates – that's expected. Now more than ever, the world is watching political events unfold in this country. The democratic process is very much alive. We haven't witnessed this kind of enthusiasm and participation in the political process from walks of life in a long while. Everyone wants to be counted. Some refer to it as "Obamania." I disagree though. I call it 'reawakening', 'realization', and 'awareness'. This country and the rest of the world are fed up with the hipocracy, secrecy, moral bankruptcy, and ineptitude of the Bush administration. This is why all of us clamor for change. But people demand more than rhetoric. Rather than allow media, media icons like Oprah, and politicians like the Kennedys to sway us towards a particular candidate, we should be more thoughtful to discuss the nuts and bolts of 'change.' We should demand from my candidates to talk about what they mean by 'change.' We should not show ultimate blind faith towards a candidate. It is our responsibility and we must insist that our candidates talk about the substantive issues that are grappling this country. We cannot expect CNN and other powerful media outlets to commit to good politics and structures that allow the best candidates to rise to the top. These powerful media outlets are like tabloid mags. They thrive on scandals, political bickerings, sensationalism, racial undertones, twisted words, and political tug of war. We should avoid all this garbage that the media is feeding. We should rise above partisan politics and the dirty media tricks.

    January 29, 2008 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  12. Alecki

    CNN please be fair on coverage about Obama....

    Obama does have a muslim father. Where does he live, does he visit him? Does Obama have uncles and aunts and where are they? His name is Borak Hussein Obama. Why ask Obama these questions. Aren't you suppose to investigate our future candidate.
    He did say that the Republicans were the party of ideas. Why not show his comments to us. He did say that three top issues the new presidents would have to address he had limited experience with....the economy, health care and the war. He is affiliated with the criminal from Chicago, Resko. Why isn't that being sensationalized.

    Please check this guy out. You're not reporting both sides.

    January 29, 2008 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  13. CW

    umm..and WHY do they care? Perhaps they should ask Mary Jo Kopechne if SHE cares about who Kennedy endorses.....
    Anyone remember who she is???? Anyone?

    January 29, 2008 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  14. CK

    As a strong, intelligent woman, I find these comments by NOW to be totally insulting. To imply that a woman (or man) must vote for a female candidate in order to demonstrate their respect for the gender, is crazy!!!

    I believe we should vote for the best candidate. The person who is honest, intelligent, creative, hopeful, inspiring....regardless of gender. This person is Obama!

    I have even more respect for Senator Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy for speaking up for their beliefs. It would have been much easier for them to remain silent, however they felt compelled to endorse Obama. This makes their actions even more meaningful and I'm certain this ensorsement was intended to be an act of support for Barack Obama, not an act of betrayal of all women!!

    January 29, 2008 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  15. Clarence

    Too much is being made of the fact that Hillary Clinton is a woman, and that Barack Obama is black. Most seem to agree that this election represents a turning-point in the United States of America. Change vs. Experience seems to be the choice. Mr. Kennedy is not new at this. I'm sure his decision was a well thought out one.

    January 29, 2008 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  16. djnn

    well, i see freedom of speech is gone. Was it my "money can buy anything, even the presidency" or that i support Edwards and not Obama? You my friend, are a big part of the problem.

    January 29, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  17. Roy

    oh boo hoo, I should vote for her because she's a woman? Playing the gender card is as equally stupid as playing the race card. I'm changing my vote from Hillary to Obama as are hundreds of thousands of Democrats disgusted by the Clintons' campaign stupidity which displays extremely poor judgement.

    January 29, 2008 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  18. Susan

    Oh Please.....that is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard....Kennedy's endorsement had nothing to do with GENDER here.....I thought this race was not supposed to have anything to do with race or gender....
    True feminism ...I thought anyway...was that candidates should be chosen for their capacity to lead and govern ...not based upon gender...............
    How can they accuse Kennedy of this....how stupid of them....
    It makes feminism look bad....I am a feminist and this statement disgusts me!!!!
    They sound like witchy, whiny, old left over bra burning women who want to blame ALL the ills of the world on the male gender.............GET OVER IT !!!!!

    January 29, 2008 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  19. D.

    I smell a Clinton... Sounds like they are trying to create a story that deflects the headline. This is absolutely silly, so silly that it actually may get coverage and change the conversation.

    January 29, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  20. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    Barack is the only democratic candidate that would LOSE to McCain. That's why McCain surrogates are supporting Obama. A vote for Obama is a vote for McCain.

    January 29, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  21. KK-OHIO

    I am a working female and a mother-this group does not represent me.

    January 29, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  22. Jim ( Independent )

    Hard to Believe we have groups of people this stupid that are allowed to vote in this country. This chapter of "NOW" needs Dr.Phil.

    January 29, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  23. Jessica

    "I Agree":

    NOW absolutely does NOT say what every woman is thinking. As a WOMAN, I think their statement is ridiculous. I'm so sick and tired of this "Ladies, band together and support your fellow woman (Hilary)" NONSENSE.

    January 29, 2008 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  24. Izzy

    This is probably the dumbest thing I've read in a very long time. The stupidity of this remarks by NOW is astounding.

    January 29, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  25. DMW

    It is very interesting that Obama talks about turning the page, getting something new from the old establishment, change, fired up, etc. Yet, his progressive white male support is coming from all of the old school, establishment in WDC. Obama is a good politician and you all have bought into his 'hope' and 'change' without asking anything about what that means. It looks to me as if it will be the same old establishment with Obama as President because Kerry, Kennedy, Daschle, et all will be wanting some favors back for supporting Obama. I don't see any change in the air with Obama, just a good speaker and orator.

    January 29, 2008 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
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