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. Carla

    That's absurd! Does that mean I should vote for Billary because I am a woman? Sorry NOW, Obama is the true candidate for CHANGE!!

    January 29, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. Rosa

    I am a black female and am NOT voting for Obama. I don't believe he's ready. I don't believe he's said anything substantive that will make a difference in Washington. He preaches about change, but has no solid ideas as to how that change will come.

    Whether you like the fact that Hillary stayed with Bill after his affairs or not, does not matter. That's personal and has nothing to do with her ability to lead the country. She has more experience and more concrete ideas. She is ready for day one-Obama isn't. Wouldn't be a shame, and a huge setback, if in four (4) years we say collectively we would never back another black man for president because Obama couldn't right the economy, or fix healthcare, or bring our troops back? He's not ready and he's not the right candidate.

    Kennedy is backing Obama because he's Black and that's not a good reason. If you look at the Kennedy record that's what they do. Plus the Kennedy family in general has shown nothing but disrespect for women-look at their history. Does that mean Ted doesn't want to back a woman because she's a woman? I don't know, but I do know it's more politically strategic for him to back a black man because he's black.

    January 29, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  3. sky

    ...I just feel incredibly disappointed in NOW at this moment and that has NEVER been the case before. You have just done exactly what you have been fighting against for the last 40 years or more.....you took the individual out of the picture and made it purely a gender choice. wrong wrong wrong.....way to look petty

    January 29, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  4. Debbie

    I find it reprehensible that NOW is saying they were betrayed because Ted Kennedy didn't support a female candidate. It is for this reason that I cannot support Hillary Clinton. The idea that I should vote gender for gender's sake is insulting and discriminatory on its face. By this token, should white men only vote for white men? How should African American women vote? The choice on who should lead our nation should be based on their ideaology, not gender, race, religion, etc. By making this statement, NOW is supporting the same policies they have decried for decades, namely, gender discrimination. I will not vote for a woman just because we are the same gender. I will base my vote on more that just surface commonalities.

    January 29, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  5. Question

    Race......... and now Gender...

    Nothing surprising here... it is just as absurd as the rest of the Clintons' campaign. They're putting on a good show of how to blow a campaign!

    So this is what American politics are all about eh? Whoever can distort the truth the most and spin the best lies wins! This is political system is so pathetic.

    I'm voting for Obama. The ONLY candidate from either side that is at least TRYING to stay above the fray. Even the Republicans are using the Clintons' style of tactics (McCain spreading the stupid lie about Romney wanting a definitive pull-out date).

    Barack is a breath of fresh air. I can't believe so many people actually back these same old political figures. Lies, distortions and whatever you want to hear. Disgusting.

    January 29, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. ILoveAmerica

    Okay, so the great Ted Kennedy decided not to endorse Hillary. Well, the story could have been worse – at least he didn't leave her at the bottom of a channel.

    January 29, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. Lloyd Phillips

    Now....needs to get a grip on things. The comment does nothing more than marginalize women.

    January 29, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Fred Herrmann

    Just kidding; right? NOW would have us elect ANYONE just because she is a woman? I bet there isn't a single Republican member of NOW

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

    maybe ted is thinking the same thing alot of others are about the clintons. JUST GO AWAY AND TAKE THE BUSH FAMILY WITH YOU . was it not bill ( opps my fly is down) clinton who signed in free trade that would be so great for all of us.

    January 29, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  10. Dave

    As a male, I am incredibly offended by NOW's sexist comments.

    January 29, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. Pickles, Monaca, PA

    So we should vote for Hillary just because she's a woman? NOT!

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

    The state NOW is off base in criticizing Senator Kennedy. As a woman, I'm offended that NOW believes I should vote for Hillary because of her gender. I like Hillary and I think she would be a great president but I'm voting for Obama because I think he'll be a greater president.

    January 29, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  13. F. Lynn

    I find it courious that when it involves Hillary, it's a woman issue? Hillary is trying to appeal to men as well. I guess there is a double standard amoung women. If only women voted for her she would fail. I have always fought for women's rights. I have been in heated debates with ultra conservatives over the issues. I find this attack troubling? Have I been mis-guided in the past working for women?

    Obama gives every American hope. He crosses to the other side of the isle with ease to work out compermises. Hill can't do that! She is polarizing. We would end-up with nothing getting done again for the next 4 years as Dem' and Repub's fight it out on the floors of congress. Sad!

    I believe that is why Kennedy backs Obama. Not because he's a women hater, goodness knows he's stood up for womens rights for years. He knows that Hill and Bill are even polarizing the Democratic party much less the rest of the US.

    Back Obama for Change, a new beginning and reject the old Lee Atwater / Karl Rove tactics the Clintons are using. Let's elect based on issues again, if ever we did. That's the change he brings!

    How much have my wife and I changed. My wife help put on the Hillary Clinton fund rasier here in Florida just before she declared her candidcy. I guess we know a little bit about what we are saying!

    January 29, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  14. Frank and Suzie

    Can anyone explain to us why NOW has so consistently backed the Clintons over so many years, despite Bill's victimization of women through his extramarital antics? Why wasn't NOW the voice of those women that Bill Clinton used sexually and then hushed up? Why didn't NOW lead the charge to get him impeached? What has led to NOW being so totally seduced by Bill's wit and charm?

    January 29, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  15. Daniel

    I would vote for a woman for president, but not if that woman is Hillary Clinton. Race and gender are not the voting issues for me.

    January 29, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. Ron

    I would support a woman for president if she was someone like Barbara Jordan. Remember her from Texas a long while ago. What matters is integrity, honesty and an understanding of a people as a whole. It seems that Hillary is basing her campaign on gender which appears NOW is also doing. It appears that comments from a woman are acceptable and those from anyone else are not. I believe the Kennedy's see an opportunity for this nation to excited about its leader and its future like it did when John Kennedy ran. I was there at that time and I do see some of the same things as back then. NOW is just another polarizing special interest group supporting Hillary. We need to ignore them if we can and teach them that all the people come before them we can't.

    January 29, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  17. Bukky

    JR SULLIVAN January 28, 2008 9:56 pm ET


    Bill Clinton is NOT running, he and Hillary may have the same political tactics but they have very different ideas of how things should go. ONCE AGAIN BILL IS NOT RUNNING

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

    For NOW to be angry at anyone, particularly Ted Kennedy or any male, who won't endorse Hillary Clinton is the ultimate betrayal – a betrayal of integrity, honor, and respect. I've always been a Clinton fan, but that's changed after the debacle in Carolina. While I was still waivering between the two candidates, I'm now committed to Obama. The maliciousness of both Clintons in this race is an example of how Hillary would lead the country and I do not want self-serving meanness any more in our leadership roles. And how can NOW be so angry at Kennedy when Hillary herself showed she wanted to lean on her husband to help with her candidacy when she thought she was losing. Ted Kennedy has betrayed women in the past but in this instance it was Hillary who betrayed women.

    January 29, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  19. Meredith

    I thought we were progressive enough not to vote for a gender or a race... but for a person.

    January 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. stephen

    ...just like a woman to stockpile ammo against someone's past transgressions and unload an artillery attack for something completely unrelated. Way to live up to the stereotype of women being illogical over emotional morons! Kuudos

    January 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  21. Lloyd Phillips

    How does NOW respond to all the female govenors, whom have supported Obama?

    January 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  22. John

    Democrats want to win this election and to do so they need to pick a candidate who CAN win. Hillary CAN'T win with a 50+ disapproval rating so they must do the right thing and move their support to who can. Obama can win as can Edwards, pretty simple stuff no matter how you feel about it ladies. You will get your turn when the time and candidate are right. Use this positive energy to find her because it sure isn't Hillary. Besides, who cares what Ted Kennedy thinks anyway!!!

    January 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  23. JJ in NY

    Oh please ! NOW all of a sudden it's a gender issue ? This is even more hypocritical than playing the race card .

    January 29, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  24. Katherine, Ohio

    "NOW says exactly what every woman is thinking.. et tu, Teddy ? " – I agree

    And there-in lies the problem. As a woman, I can think for myself, thank you. Obviously, they're NOT saying what every woman is thinking.

    January 29, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  25. GMMR

    you know here are the FACTS He is a LEADER out of all the candidates

    Stop bashing LETS MOVE FORWARD

    January 29, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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