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. David

    This is the most absurd statement I've ever seen...NOW has lost whatever credibility it might of had. I understand that every politician makes promises to win over certain groups, but to blatantly come out and make a statement like this is ridiculous. It's not like he said he'd rather vote for a Republican or something like that.

    January 29, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  2. Prema

    If he is looking for a new blood to lead the country, why is the 76 year old is still in power as a politician. We accepted all his flaws and still revered him and voted for him. Now he slams against women as he doees not want a woman to become the President of the country. I am very, very disappointed and lost faith and interest in this senior senator of my state.

    The process has to take its course before an endorsement (unless it is part his/her family). The other senator Kerry visits the state only when he needs to be elected. It is unfortunate that both whom we supported all along are mere disappointment to women of the great state of Ma as well as to the country.

    Let us see what their future is, in our state, in the next election. What a shock! how in no time some one you admire and lookup to, can fall to the ground in our opinion, with very bad thoughtless decisions like this!

    January 29, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  3. Danielle

    NOW – please stop speaking on my behalf. I back Senator Obama for president not because of his race or gender, but because of his ideas.

    January 29, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  4. Gail Eaddy

    While I respect the Chapters right to voice their opinion it is just that, their opinion. Senator Kennedy, as do us, all have to vote our concious!. Would the New York Chapter sacrifice the greater good of their families to honor others desires! For Senator Kennedy to have not endorsed Barack Obama would have been setting aside the greater good of our American Family for loyalties sake. No one would enjoy more a female President than myself however, this is not the time. Senator Clinton would make a "great" President, I believe. But, it is not woman's "JOB" to be in the fore-front....unless there is no man to stand up! We have men who are willing and able to stand up, be and do what is fair, just and the good of "all" mankind (this means wo-man, also) So, I say, New York, quit thinking about the power for women only and look to the greater good!


    Gail Eaddy

    January 29, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  5. Val in Pittsburgh, PA

    I must add to my previous comment that I would have split my sides laughing at Ted Kennedy's transparency of motive were he not so pathetic. As an admirer of JKF in my youth, I can say with conviction that Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama are no John Kennedy.

    January 29, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  6. Dee

    I am a woman and I don't agree with NOW. Perhaps they should find a more suitable female candidate and get back to us. I stand behind Mr. Kennedy too! It's all about change. We need it and it the state of the union wasn't proof. Well what else do you need!!!!!!!!!! OBAMA '08

    January 29, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. Gen

    Is it so outrageous to think that he endorsed Obama because he thought he was a better candidate?

    January 29, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  8. mussie

    Ted Kenndy's endorsment to Obama over Clinton got nothing to do with women's right. That is wierd.

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

    As both a member of the military and a woman, this got my blood boiling first thing in the morning. Now gives no other reason for endorsing Billary except for the fact that she is a woman. That would be like me endorsing Obama simply because we are both black. Woman or not, if Billary was president, it would still not ensure that the NOW agenda was pushed or even addressed. She is after all a politician. What a sorry group of women to simply follow someone based on gender. Get a life, and worry about the real issues like the many friend and shipmates I have lost in Iraq.

    January 29, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. BH

    Absurd. When did gender become more important than competency? Just because the senetor supports Obama dosn't mean he is against women. If he had backed Clinton and a chapter of the African-American community had reacted this way, would this NOW chapter agree with that? Wake up, lets do our best to elect the most QUALIFIED candidate, not the one you find most gender/racially pleasing. We have a lot of things to fix, the nation is bleeding, lets not get side tracked.

    January 29, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. Optimist

    You know...I felt compelled to leave a long blasting comment about NOW's letter....but I see my fellow Americans already has this covered...thankfully.

    This letter really shows how shallow they are...it is unbelievable.....'betrayed women?'


    January 29, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. Family of 4 Votes

    President Bush mentioned hope and change many times last night. He allows us to hope for change. Republicans are talking about change, too. Why should we vote for Democrats?

    January 29, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  13. Karsten

    The Democratic party has represented itself as the party of equality. Meanwhile those Republicans are Racist Elitist. It is ironic that the Democratic Party is squabbling about race and gender.

    January 29, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  14. mwood

    Senator Kennedy obviously feels more devotion to the USA and not just to elect a woman president. The Organization for Women needs to stop their whining, that's part of the problem and Kennedy feels Obama is part of the solution to put the US back on track. It's time to take a stand and not a back seat.

    January 29, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  15. Debbie

    Everyone has a right to their opinion. I am a white, almost elderly female. I am also a registered Republican. I have been watching the debates. I am leaning towards Obama. It seems if Hillary were to be president, her husband would be calling the shots. He hurt a lot of people by signing NAFTA and I'm afraid she will make a big mistake, too. The economy problems do not belong to Bush. They are the domino effect from Bill's signature. We need change. Obama is young and he also fights for change and has since his younger days. He has a great potential to unite this nation. We need new faces.

    January 29, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  16. jordyn

    Women, get over it. This presidential election is so much bigger than YOU! Way to demonstrate the true essence of a woman that we have been trying to shake since the beginning of time........ALWAYS COMPLAINING!

    January 29, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  17. pops


    January 29, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. Lisa

    I to was for Hilary Clinton and two thing made me change my thinking. First was the attacks by her husband on Obama. I feel that Obama is trying to run a clean campain and the Clintons have chosen to try to bring the campain down into the dirt. The Clintons have been mistreated by the right wing for a long time they should know better than to revert to their dirty tactics! Secondly, Obama I believe is the only candidate in a long time that is talking about unification not only between partties but the world. If there is any hope for this country and this world I believe it will be done by a peace maker not a warrior. I hope for my childrens sake our country finally makes the right choice to elect a candidate that will move our country in a positve direction. This is not about man woman or black white. This is about world peace and prosperity for all.

    January 29, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  19. lj

    If Hilliary wants to represents women trying to make it in today's world, she will need to stop crying and hanging onto Bill's coat tail. It seems every time the going gets rough she runs to Bill to bail her out. The good cop bad cop show pushed me right over the edge. We have had Bush, Bush, I don't think we are ready for Clinton, Clinton.

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

    How about a little cheese with that whine. Apparently NOW expects Ted Kennedy and America to support Billary on the sole basis that she's is a woman. What a complete load.

    January 29, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  21. beth -sc

    I suppose I a white woman in SC I have now betrayed my race and my gender by voting for Barack Obama? NOW-NY just made about the most petty and belittling statement I've ever heard.

    January 29, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  22. jasira

    NOW does not speak for "women", it speaks for a certain segment of the white female population and have always left women of color, stay at home moms, and often times women of faith outside their narrow agenda.

    January 29, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  23. No Side

    What a ridiculous statement! Pretty sad when your own national chapter does not back your statement. Ted Kennedy has no obligation to back Hilary Clinton nor does it portray him as a racist. This is politics ladies.......a dirty battle that is often unfair and underhanded......but I am sure Hilary would fix all of that.......please....

    January 29, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  24. Clintonhater

    And people have the nerve to say blacks only vote on race...are you kidding me...Hilary is a Femist to the death and has teh back of all the so called "independant" women in america...so I guess just cause she's a woman she's entitled to all female votes and the clintons have a right to lay claim to the white house...I swear clinton supports are delusional....all this stuff happening to the Billary Twins campiegn is self inflicted....Obama didn't bring race into this...they did....Obama doesn't hide behind his wife but Hilary does hide behind Bill and his crumbling popularity...I use to be a huge fan of Bill he was one most popular president but that was in the past...wer are looking to move foward and HIlary Clinton is NOT the future of our country...all you Women need to get off this PMS kick you guys are on cause Hilary is not all that she is not gods gift to females and she definitly is not the type of President we need...she is a liar and a fake just like her husband...

    January 29, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. Karl Warrington

    Betrayal or no betrayal, my first reaction when I heard about Kennedy's endorsement was "yuk" for Obama. Kennedy has more negatives than Bill. The whole family does for that matter. In the short term it seems like a pretty sweet endorsement, but in the long term this will make a great Republican ad in the Fall. Obama "WAY TOO LIBERAL." The Clintons, I am sure, did not want Ted's endorsement, but Ted to stay neutral. It still won't matter much. Hillary, unlike Obama, who is relatively unknow still, has her own label and can sell or not sell herself. People aren't wondering to themselves, "If Ted or anyone else does or doesn't endorse Hillary that will sway my vote. " She is a know quantity already. This is shown in the NOW group's reaction.

    January 29, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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