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. Mae

    Just like Ted Kennedy has a right to endorse BO, NOW has a right to deliver their complaint. Kennedy has his own demons to deal with, the Kennedy family's history alone speaks for itself, it's so amazing how the BO camp is reaching out to all of the old congressional folks for support yet his message was for the future not the past and yet today it has changed to link the past with the future make up your mind what you are selling BO, I'm getting so confused. The state of the union presentation gave hope and at the same time it provided a further insight into the growing problems of our nation and all the BO supporters speak about is unity what about the economic crisis, foreign policy, sick and starving families and children, our elderly; what we need are facts not glamour, experience versus unknow experience, ability not wit.

    January 29, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  2. Pam Mitchell

    I think Hillary is a great role model for women – after all, she stuck with a man who is almost a pedophile and constantly screwed around with other women. This is a great example of how loyal and subservient all women should be!

    January 29, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  3. Al in Wpg

    Well, good on the National NOW to distance it'self from this absolutely stupid comment made by NY NOW. This has got to be the most rediculous thing I've heard in a while... and that's saying alot cause these campagnes have all been rediculous. NY NOW is setting woman's lib back 10 years. Do they not stand for judging someone based on who they are and not on their gender? Or are they really just men-haters like they were beleived to be back in the day?

    January 29, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  4. jade + Uli

    we believe so, women's right not being respect even till today in USA, though we don't ask for more than anyone else! Hillary is being attacked since she is day one on the campign trail for presidentency. She was under attack , making her like an evil women, Can't she defend her record by telling the fact about her oponent's flict-flapping record when she is under attack?? we are astonished that few came on her defence but add more fuel on fire, even CNN media reporters, they should keep neutral, just report the fact, not adding your own subjective view. TAll this seems to us that you all enjoy her being knock down, isn't that double standard????

    January 29, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  5. Marian, England

    This is most absurd. Senator Kennedy has the right to endorse the candidate he believes in and if that person is Obama, so be it.

    January 29, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  6. Womens' Group Wrong

    The Womens' Groups are wrong on this one in my opinion.

    If in earlier days they decided to support, aid Ted Kennedy that was their right and decision. And the decision then to support Ted should not have been based on what he might do for them or (how he could repay them) in the future! As that is not support, it is grovelling, pandering for one's future benefits.

    In my opinion, the Womens' Group going publicly with this statement, slamming Kennedy for the same Freedom of Rights they champion on behalf of women, have discredited their Movement, it's mandate and members for their desired political gain. Shame on all.

    January 29, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  7. olga gardiner

    Ted Kenning backing Obama will not help at all. Kennedy should have stayed neutral in this race. His days are gone. Hillary will be the next President of United States. History will be done.

    January 29, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  8. Bob

    I don't think these endorsements matter to those who have already made up their mind. Those supporting Obama think it is great, thise supporting Clinton are angered and feel betrayed. Tell us something we don't know.

    January 29, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  9. Mitt Romney


    I am LOVING it.

    Good ol Teddy just ripped the entire Democratic party in half.

    Republicans are going to win in a landslide.

    There is no way Obama people will vote for Clinton in the general election. There is no way Clinton people will vote for Obama in the general election now.

    Vote Romney !!!

    Romney 08

    January 29, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  10. K Cseri

    morrow, you "hit the nail on the head" I'm not sure why anyones endorsement of anyone makes any difference. It does nothing for me. Do that many people buy into that that it is headline news and it actually influences their thinking? I also think it is funny how many of these blogs are insinuating it is Hillary's fault what NOW/NY said and there goes another black mark against her. Another sad thing is the number of people (especially women) who think that Hillary's staying with Bill is weak and not courages. It is much harder to stay, forgive and work it out than to get a divorce. Divorce is the easy path and much too previalant in our society. Nobody can convince me she stayed because she was planning on running for president this many years later. It shows she has courage, commitment and staying power. I admire her for that and think she would be an excellant president.

    January 29, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  11. Bob

    And by the way, if people are so against "women", then why is Nancy Pelosi in charge of the Senate? Have you thought about that? it's not that she's a woman, its that she's Hillary Clinton.

    January 29, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  12. Joy

    obama needs a baby sitters rather!

    January 29, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  13. Erika,dc

    CRAP CRAP CRAP......What has Now done for women in the past 20 years nothing...For black women ever nothing!!!! Go Teddy!!! GO Barack!!!! Get on the stop Billary train!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  14. Marianne Beasley

    I have been a Democrat all of my life, as have most of my family and friends.I am a 55 year old woman from Arkansas . I have never voted for a Republican and I never will. But this election , due to how Hillary is being treated, I just might switch to the Indepedent Party. I am ashamed of Ted Kennedy and Caroline. And what's this about Obama turning his back on Hillary when she offered him her hand? He will never get my vote, nor that of anyone I personally know. I cannot stand the man.

    January 29, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  15. Anna, SW Missouri

    First it's black against white, and now NOW says it's men against women. Wow, that is really going to bring this country together! 57 y o white female for Obama!

    January 29, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  16. AJP,Richardson, TX

    Sounds like old Ted is hitting the bottle again.

    January 29, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  17. NYC Democrat

    Is it so hard to believe Sen. Kennedy might just believe Sen. Obama is the better candidate? With all due respect to Sen. Clinton – and she deserves a great deal for what she's accomplished – she will not be able to govern effectively – that is by consensus. Sen. Obama has the experience and credentials in that regard. We're lucky to have great candidates. Obama is just the better candidate.

    Best of luck to Senator Obama and God Bless America.

    January 29, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  18. Please

    Please, NOW, stop giving women a bad name. How do you expect to be taken seriously when you advocate reverse discrimination. I am a woman and I wouldn't vote for Hil if you paid me. Why? Because I have a brain, I can think and I disagree with her.

    January 29, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  19. Kathie

    I couldn't agree more.
    After all these years of Democratic women supporting Ted Kennedy, looking the other way, and holding their noses.....
    Shame on him!
    We won't forget this!

    January 29, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  20. Roger

    Kathy, do you have any male relatives? Any male loved ones who you care about?

    How will you feel when they're sent to Iran to die when Hillary starts a war against them, like Bush did against Iraq?

    January 29, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  21. Will

    Boo friggin hoo

    January 29, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  22. Ben

    This is outrageous. It would be the equivalent of calling him a racist if he had chosen Hillary over Obama.

    January 29, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  23. New York City

    Get over it...NOW!!!!

    January 29, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  24. Jen, Minneapolis, MN

    Femi-nazi's. They endorsed Clinton. Isn't that good enough? Do they have to terrorize anyone who won't? It only makes them look bad, like extremists.

    January 29, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  25. lu

    those women should grow up, to say that kennedy only supports obama because he doesn't want to see a woman as persident is ridiculous!! these are the type of people who shouldn't even vote, if they are voting based on gender. the fact that they are appalled that Kennedy would support the "new guy" shows thier narrow mindedness.
    p.s. I am a woman

    January 29, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
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