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. K

    Kennedy's support of Obama is not anti-woman – it is anti-Hillary. As much as I do not support Teddy, he at least is not stupid enough to support Hillary.

    January 29, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  2. Barbara

    the NOW organization doesn't speak for all women surely; certainly not for me.
    I can't stand either of the Clintons and I sure am NOT going to vote for her. I won't say I'd never vote for a woman because it depends on who and what the circumstances were, but I believe our country's leader should be a male person.

    January 29, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |

    So what's new. Ted has always been a snake. Who can trust him.

    January 29, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. deaconjones

    God, these poor women's husbands (if they have any)
    Shut up SHUT UP!

    January 29, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  5. Robin

    I just voted for Barack Obama in the Florida primary. I was on the fence until the very last minute. I'm a woman, but I won't vote on the basis of race or gender, even if the candidates are dead even. The deciding factor for me was this: Barack Obama was against the war from the very beginning. Hillary Clinton said she was "misled" by the Bush Administration. So who shows better leadership?

    Sorry, Hillary Clinton would be an unknown if not for Bill, Barack pulled himself up by the bootstraps. He is truly a historic figure . . . inspiring and great.

    January 29, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. Raye Locke

    Sounds to me like NOW is encouraging women to vote for Hilliary for the simple fact she is a woman. I am a woman, but just because one is a woman doesn't mean she is capable of running an entire country. Wake up ladies and think for yourself as to who is best qualified.

    January 29, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. Allison M. Duluth MN

    How "Hypocritical" can NOW be?? Talk about playing the race/gender card. 'We the People' can absolutely accept a "Woman President" on the basis of Character – which Hillary Clinton is "famously known" as lacking! I am a woman and frankly Hillary Clinton – scares me to death, i will vote for ANYONE other than her.

    January 29, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. sky

    I would like to believe that I am not at odds with NOW, an organization I have supported and felt close to since the 1970's, just because I feel Obama is the right person for the job. I feel as though I am a big enough person to pick the individual I truly and sincerely feel is right for the country over my desire to see a woman become president. If Obama was a female I would still be voting for him over Hilary. This time, male or female has absolutely nothing to do with it and to make it that sort of issue undermines my intelligence and the value of picking the right individual over making a political statement. Hillary is good and if she gets the nod I will gladly support her. But Obama is what the country has needed for a decade now. It is him as a person. I knew in my gut the moment I saw him and it has nothing to do with a political agenda. He is the one to unite us and Hillary is not. The division stays with Hillary.

    January 29, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  9. Gary

    I don't respect Ted Kennedy, But I do RESPECT Caroline. Get real NOW! Typical reaction from a group like NOW.

    January 29, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. Tommy O, Grand Rapids MI

    Big surprise, NOW endorses Hillary. Not because she is the best candidate, but because of her gender. No other reason. And they have the gall to blast Senator Kennedy (whom I despise, fwiw) because he chose to not support her. Did they ask if he chose on gender or on qualifications like most of the democrats of this nation, including women, appear to be doing? People like them are why normal Americans hate political action committees, like NOW.

    January 29, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  11. Don


    January 29, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  12. rabblerouser

    This whole election is turning out to be based on race and gender. When I saw the debates, which I think are informative, I was impressed with Hillary's depth of knowledge and willingness to address questions in detail, which shows her experience. I was turned off by how the media put a racial slant to her comment on Johnson and MLK (I heard the whole speech and no reasonable person could construe a racial slur). Likewise, I was turned off by how Bill's remarks about Obama were turned into a racial insult. Up until then, I liked Obama. But he remained silent during that whole incident and his silence gave consent to people like Al Sharpton who was calling the Clinton's racist. Do you really want a president who whenever anyone criticizes him, they will be called a racist?

    Hillary is a lot more experienced, intelligent and savvy. A lot of people were turned off on her during the last debate because I still think the majority of men and women are threatened by an intelligent, feisty woman who can punch hard. Deep down I think people thought she "emasculated" Obama during that last debate. All this shows is that no matter what people say, we are still divided along racial and gender lines. They're more ready for a black president than a woman president.

    I'm voting for Hillary because she's the best one for the job. I don't want to send a nice guy with lots of dreams and talk of hope (and little experience to back it up) to Washington because our problems require someone who can fight their way through the quagmire that is Washington. I'm not afraid of a feisty, tough woman. And I'm not a racist. I don't care if I'm Politically correct. She's the better candidate.

    Too bad people can't see it – but then again, the majority of Americans put Bush in the White house, so the majority doesn't always know what's best...

    January 29, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  13. sky

    ...I just feel incredibly disappointed in NOW at this moment and that has NEVER been the case before.

    January 29, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. Rachelle

    its a shame when a national orginization of supposedly intelligent women get so cought up in there high thoughts of womens equality that that is all they see, & they have blinders on that keep them from having common sense & seeing the better choice no matter what. i'm not saying that Obama its the best choice, but this group would bash kennedy even if he was supporting Jesus himself, b/c apparently this election is now just a battle of the sexes. I'm a southern woman & i know the battle that has been & is still being fought, & my view is an objective one. these women need to forget what they do or do not have between thier legs & focus on actually supporting a candidate b/c they stand for what you believe in. if we forget that thats what our country was founded then god help the nation...& good luck

    January 29, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  15. Mike, Denver, CO

    Just another cry-baby whine by the NOW, and female sexists in general. They didn't get their way, so they pout.
    Deal with it ladies – Hillary would be a disaster for this country. Your entire deep, penetrating analysis of the issues really just centers are the gender of the individuals involved, nothing more. Appears you aren't capable of seeing beyond that. You are the ultimate sexists and hypocrites.
    Kennedy himself is no politician to be proud of, but he made a decision he apparently felt was right....he can see through Hillary just like most thinking people can.
    Your position is, and always has been, than women should have what they want, just because they want it, and now Hillary should be president just because she and you want it, irrespective of her lack of qualifications and her clearly disingenuous approach to politics. Again, thinking people can see througher and you.....

    January 29, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. Sherrie

    These reports of endorsements and other drama by the media ad nauseum are really distracting the voters away from the real issues and which candidate each individual citizen feels best suits their needs. I didn't hear any reports, except for Keith Oberman, on the letter John Edwards received from Martin Luther King III just before MLK Day stating his father would have been proud of him among many other nice things. It shows how really slanted and borderline propaganda-like our media outlets have become. Why don't we demand the media report on these candidates in a fair and equal manner regarding their stances on the issues, which is really all that matters. George Bush ran on bringing the country together, which was what the country wanted to hear at that time, but no one asked him how he planned on doing this. As it turned out, he apparently had no intention on bringing the country together at all. Why do we just listen to these commentators with their self-serving opinions, all these endorsements from politicians and others with their own agendas and especially the bipartisan pundits who seem to be campaigning for the candidate of their choice? We need to get back to the issues. I am ashamed that this goes on in our country. The "News" media is becoming nothing more than paparazzi and is down right despicable how they cram this crap down our throats. I do not see any change in the media even though there are many people out there disgusted with their practices especially with regards to this election. It is time the American People take back our government and put an end to the commentating and demand we get the NEWS by means of investigative reporting not by personal opinions.

    January 29, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  17. Joel, Pittsburgh, PA

    If it's evidence of latent sexism to endorse Obama, isn't it evidence of latent racism to endorse Clinton?

    January 29, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  18. KDT


    January 29, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. Martin

    Reading this article made me think of one thing. Why is it that just because someone is not behind Clinton, it makes them a anti-female person? Now really, this is horrible. Maybe Kennedy saw things in Clinton he didn't like or maybe he just liked something more abotu Obama. Leave the guy alone. And this is coming from someone who really dislikes the Senator too.

    January 29, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  20. Lisa

    Hillary has not been a strong woman role model. Although it is a personal choice – she did chose to stand by a man who has cheated on her (treating all women as if they were nothing but convenient sex objects) throughout her entire marriage. As a strong independent woman I would have demanded more from my life partner than that kind of disrespect of me, and treatment of other women. I feel bad for the women that Bill used, because their lives have been turned upside down – and his goes on. Did a young 20 year old deserve to have her reputation trashed because of Bill's hormones? Why did she need to leave the country to have a normal life?

    Hillary is not running her own campaign and it seems that Bill is running again. I don't see a strong competent woman, I see a submissive woman giving Bill what he wants.

    Did Geraldine Ferraro, Elizabeth Dole, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth, Golda Meir have men running tackle for them? Or did they do it themselves, because they were the ones running.

    NOW could have pick many other women to get behind, but seriously Hillary is not a role model for me, my mother, or daughters, or granddaughters. And certainly not a good role model for the men in my family either.

    January 29, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  21. A. Macaulay

    Could it be that Hillary with both the money and the Democratic machinery behind isn't the right candidate. All she has harped on is experience–a Washington code word for "business as usual"–and personally Americans are looking for real not imagined change.

    As for her being a woman, I look forward to the day when a woman is President but by the same token I do not want what Maureen Dowd of the New York Times said after South Carolina, i.e. , "It’s odd that the first woman with a shot at becoming president is so openly dependent on her husband to drag her over the finish line."

    Now, I am wondering who exactly will be ready in the Oval Office on Day One–Bill or Hillary. I have already been trough a "partnership President" with Bush and Cheney and do not relish another one.

    At least Cheney has some accountability under the law.

    January 29, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  22. eve

    just wondering- – – – – – is Shillary going to say she is the victim of a vast left wing conspiracy???

    January 29, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  23. Sean

    This is insane.

    January 29, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  24. Laura Anderson

    Why are these groups so stupid. The American public can make up their own minds, and chosing a candidate for qualifications of personal convictions doesn't mean they should be isolated from their group. Or maybe, Senator Kennedy should consider a gift to be outed from such a simple minded group like that-and I'm a woman! I look at candiates as people, not because of gender or race. Get with the times. Every time I hear people bashing Oprah or other people for their support just reinforces that these "groups" are just that, groups of people with narrow minds and bothersome. This is America we all have choices.

    January 29, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  25. Roger Brewster

    I don't think Ted kennedy's endorsement will affect Hillary in any way.
    However, it is prudent or former President to tone down and just focus on Hillary's experience and how she can be different and more capable.

    January 29, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
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