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. Jen, Boston MA

    CNN, did your dog eat my comment again?

    January 29, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  2. Beth

    I am SO disappointed in NOW that they think a "token" woman in the White House is the answer. I applaud Mr. Kennedy for supporting Obama. And I am, by the way, a woman. I also believe that a vote for Obama is not a vote against women. I think NOW needs to get their priorities realigned and realize that Senator Kennedy did not betray them by endorsing Barak Obama.

    January 29, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. teshich

    I am a woman, a progressive thinker and the LAST person I would vote for is Hillary! This is not about making a feminist statement but about who can better lead our nation out of the abyss we are now in. I do not want Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton and the Clinton's act as though this is an upper level entitlement program.

    New, fresh ideas from either Edwards or Obama is what I want. Your narrow view of women voting for someone because they are a woman is both outdated and presumptious. Woman can think and believe it or not we can vote for whom we choose........woman or man, the best candidate.

    January 29, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  4. aj

    Wow I can't believe this. This womans group does have the right to complain but their focus should be directed at Hillary and Billary, whose has thrown out their issues for a more corporate view.

    January 29, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. Patty

    The women in this country need to get a grip. I support Obama a whole lot more than Hillary. She is the last person we need in the White House.

    January 29, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  6. Hey look over here

    The NOW has been kissing Hillary's butt for years. It's no surprise that they're disappointed. But betrayed? If Kennedy, had endorsed a Republican then maybe they could say that. Kennedy is actually helping his party. If he endorsed Clinton, he'd be hurting it.

    January 29, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  7. Steffen

    Their protest is purely manipulative and undignified. They just don't want to understand that Hillary does not deserve to be President merely for the fact that she is a woman. The reality is that many people do not like her campaign because it belongs to an establishment machine. shame on NOW for expecting us to give preferential treatment to someone based on their gender. This belittles women everywhere.

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

    Does NOW suggest women should stay with their cheating husbands in order to help their career?

    January 29, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Heather

    Well said Rafi! I shouldn't have to vote for a sub-standard candidate because she happens to be the same gender as me.

    January 29, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  10. Susan

    Wake Up! Hillary doesn't give a rat's 2 cents about women – She doesn't stand for women....explain to me what she's really done for women? Just because she is a woman doesn't mean she should be supported by women.

    Yes, this country is behind when it comes to women and positions of power, authority and respect HOWEVER, I'm looking for a qualified woman! She's not it!

    January 29, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  11. brown dude

    I wasn't going to vote for Hillary till I saw the blatantly biased media. The liberal whites suffering from white guilt want to hoist an empty shirt with great rhetoric but no substance (Obama). For me it is either Ron Paul or Hillary.

    January 29, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  12. Allen Glover

    Yes, Kennedy should have stayed on the sidelines. However, there is good news by him endorsing Obama and Obama accepting means that he has also turned his back on the south. Like it or not, you must win 2 southern states to win the big prize. Hillary can win in the south and is still leading in total delegates.

    We still have hope. Don't give up on her. Remember Jessie Jackson won in SC but nowhere else.

    I am a southern white male that believes in equality for all. I am also a member of the first union to endorse Hillary. She is going to win despite fat old Ted's endorsement.

    January 29, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If the sole reason why they are upset is because Clinton is a woman is silly. Kennedy did support the ERA, Family Leave Act and other things, didn't he? It is better that he help support these things late than oppose them completely. I believe that either Clinton, Edwards or Obama would make a better and more responsive president to women's issues as well the whole health of the country.

    January 29, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. Roger

    Surely a candidate should bechosen on their merits? What they stand for,etc...

    It doesn't make sense to stubbornly vote for a candidate because she is a woman.

    Additionally, Bill has undermined her standing on her own feet as well.

    Get a beter woman candidate next time, but don't start crying about it (like Hilary!)

    January 29, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  15. MJ - San Antonio, TX

    Listen Sen Kennedy has the option to choose whom he wants to endorse for office of the President. That he did not endorse Hillary Clinton does not mean that he has betrayed women voters. Maybe this person needs to get off her high horse. I am a Hispanic Democrat woman and I will not vote for Hillary Clinton to run our country. I think that we are all entitled to choose whomever we feel will do a better job. Personally what has changed my mind is her emotional stages that to me mean she cannot handle pressure. I have seen her on the debates both in English and Spanish. She changes her comments according to which group she is speaking to. So this person will not get my vote.

    January 29, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  16. albatross

    This is ridiculous. So pretty much NY-NOW is saying they're supporting Clinton because she's a woman. Heaven forbid anyone considers a candidate's credentials, platform and record before making an informed vote. What incredibly tunnel-visioned nonsense.

    January 29, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  17. Bukky

    Please note that this is comming from the NEW YORK NOW organization. Its is not speaking for the national chapter.... I dont think i also have to point out that Hillary is a NY senator.

    Regardless, the statement by this NOW group is utter nonsense. He's suppose to support her because she's a woman? What kind of backwards thinking is that for an organization whose sole purpose is to encourage women to be judged by there merits. BOTH Kenedy's looked at the Merits of each candidate and went with the better.

    I am a woman and I almost always support NOW, but this is just plain shameful

    January 29, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  18. Quelli

    Whoa... wait. Why does anyone need to back Hillary just becasue she is a woman to show support for womens' rights. Sure, it would be nice to have a woman as President- but it is more important to have the right person regardless of gender or race in office. Isn't that the point? Equal rights and equal opportunity do not amount to more rights and more opportunity. The bickering that has begun on the part of Hillary and Bill in the past few weeks is enough to make me question the emotional maturity of Hillary. This being said, I also question why 90% of our past presidents were elected to office and why we have not changed our electoral process to better represent the true majority of voters- then it really wouldn't matter who supported who on the campaign trail... Anyway, all of us should support who we believe is the best of the best and who we feel will support our needs and goals as citizens- not who we feel will further our agenga against our personal battle- as a Democrat, I think that Edwards and Clinton are solid plastic and breakable politicians... Obama- he's a little more like high grade putty- moldable and somewhat absorbant- he is adaptable to doing what needs to be done to get the job done and he is really very REAL. If he were a white woman, a black woman, a black man, a white man, or a hobbit... I would still vote for him as he best represents my goals and what I believe my family needs in the future as American Citizens.

    January 29, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  19. Dana, Arizona

    They don't get it. Its the person not an entire gender.

    January 29, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  20. John, New York, NY

    I respect NOW and the achievements that they have gained through the years to protect the rights of women.

    However, failing to endorse a candidate simply by virtue of that candidate's gender is the very type of sexism that NOW has fought against for years. To call Kennedy's endorsement of Obama "the ultimate betrayal" is not only extremely wrong-headed, it actually does a disservice to the ideals that NOW has sought to achieve.

    I am deeply disappointed.

    January 29, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  21. Robin Tudge

    Are they really backing Hillary simply because she's a woman? That's pathetic.

    January 29, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  22. Ian

    Do the good people over at NOW know what century we're in?

    January 29, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  23. Betty

    I totally disagree with the statement of NOW. As a woman, I don't believe Sen. Kennedy endrosement of Barack Obama was an "ultimate betrayal". The comments of the NOW organization sound like 'victimized and bitter" woman because someone didn't give them what they wanted. I don't think Sen. Kennedy endrosement of Barack Obama was a personal attack against women. I think he supported a better presidental candidate that represents the values and rights of all Americans, including women. If NOW wants to blame someone for Sen. Kennedy decision to endrose someone another than Hilary Clinton, they should look at her campaign strategy and the comments made by her husband former President Bill Clinton. The change in voter support to Barack Obama is in backlash to their negative campaign tactics.

    January 29, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  24. GLENDA Hudson ,Fl

    THE MEDIA IS BIASED AGAINST WOMEN!!! Especially Hillary.

    Ted Kennedy is a drunk and a killer. His endorsement is a joke. However
    the media protrays it as the most important endorsement of the century.

    Cnn is better but they still have some biased remarks.

    I voted for Hillary because she is the most qualified- not because she is a
    women. However this is a plus. WOMEN MUST STAND UP AND FIGHT

    When will the media report just the facts?

    January 29, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  25. Daisy

    Voting for a woman just because she is a woman is downright stupid. I hope you idiots voting for her realize you are just voting for Bill to go in office a 3rd time. As if we hadn't had enough of that jerk.

    January 29, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
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