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. frank n stein

    Well, the point is that Obama will NEVER beat his GOP opponent because he has no experience and no record to speak of. For the fools that think Obama is the godsend, you'll find out real quick how fast Obama will get shredded by the hateful knuckleheads that the GOP has waiting in the wings who will rip him a new one for spending his entire first term as a US Senator working on his campaign for President. This is exactly what the GOP wants, which is why you don't hear a peep out of them yet about the Dem candidates. They know that Clinton would be a much more formidable opponent and could garner both the black and woman's vote to battle the right-wing nuts and religious crusaders that the GOP will be lining up at the voting booth. This race is not about who the best Dem is for President, IT'S ABOUT WHO THE BEST DEM IS THAT HAS A SHOT AT BEATING THE GOP. Because let's face it, if there are that many morons out that to vote for Bush not once, but TWICE even though most of them knew it probably wasn't the right move, do you really think that they'll push the button for Obama if he, let's say, is going up against a war hero like McCain? It's a total loss for the Dems. On one side, you have Obama (no experience, no record, no military history), on the other side you'll probably have McCain (war hero, longtime US Senator, semi-conservative, multiple runs at President). Guess what. It's a total wash in McCain's favor and us Dems lose again. Think about it.

    January 29, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  2. David

    Now clinton company is attacking Kennedy. they only know attack. its not electon to choose a man or a woman. why they are using gender and race card?

    January 29, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  3. Alex

    The NOW disrespects itself, its role in the US and the dignity of women. There is nothing right, nor good, about dividing our nation by gender just like there is nothing good to come from racial divisions. The attack on Sen. Kennedy is weak beyond words but it is in kind with the way Hillary Clinton's campaign operates. I am utterly disgusted with NOW's response.

    January 29, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. gerry

    This group isn't being truthful They support Hillary not because she is a woman but because she is a dike like them.

    January 29, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  5. Jen

    Why would you vote for a woman, just because you are a woman?? Shouldn't the best candidate win, regardless of race, gender, age, etc.?

    January 29, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. Patricia

    wow... NOW I have heard everything! So I should vote for Hillary because she's a woman? I am a 62 year old white woman voting for Obama. Why? because he has more character in his big toe, than Hillary has in her whole arrogant body!

    January 29, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  7. Tara

    NOW is demonstrating exactly how outmoded they are- this line of reasoning does not appeal to women like me who don't see themselves as perpetual victims of men and who don't value "sisterhood" at any cost. This is just a pathetic attempt to undermine Kennedy's endorsement. I think it's terrible that Hillary and her minions CONSTANTLY attempt to play the gender card.

    January 29, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  8. Kris

    There are many women leaders in this country that I would whole-heartedly support to be president: Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, for example, or Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, and there are others. Just because I don't support Hillary Clinton doesn't mean I'm against women's rights; far from it, since I AM a woman. I vote for the candidate whom I feel will make the best president – no one should feel obligated to choose a candidate just because they have the same skin color or the same gender.

    January 29, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. JDC

    The Kennedy endorsements mean nothing. The myth of "camelot" was just that.
    Only similarity between Camelot and JFK was the sex! Lancelot with the queen and JFK with anybody he could get into bed.

    January 29, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. Randal

    Sounds like they are taking this way to personally. The man is backing the candidate he believes in. Hell hath no fury...you know the rest

    January 29, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. Dave M

    Well, here's another reason to fear another Clinton presidency. Hillary is in bed with NOW. No telling what favors she owes these pin heads.

    Lastly, I have no problem with a woman as president....

    However, you cannot have a liberal woman as your president, she must be conservative like Margaret Thatcher. Otherwise a liberal woman executive would have the impulse to enact one of the elitist, social. liberal programs of social engineering, which of course is totally flawed and doomed to failure. Universal Healthcare is one that comes to mind.

    January 29, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  12. Katrina

    Since when does being a woman mean you HAVE to vote for any woman who runs for office? I think it's ridiculous to expect that. And it's ridiculous to think that just because Sen. Kennedy isn't endorsing Hillary that makes him against women! I will NOT be voting for Hillary and it has nothing to do with her gender. I do not think she is right for the job. That's it.

    January 29, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. Steve L, Youngstown

    I won't vote for Hillary because I don't think she could do the job, rather I won't vote for her because I don't respect her as a woman for letting her husband abuse her for so many years through his womanizing and lies. How can she look herself in the mirror everyday? It is very evident that she just wants the power of the office and has held on to Bill simply to not interrupt her goal of getting to the White House again! I pity her more than anything. If she would have left him and then ran for president maybe I'd (and more of the country) respect her and cast my vote for her. But respect her I don't and thus one of the reasons I'm crossing my party lines for Obama.

    January 29, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Hoodi - CA

    You women need to stand for what is right and be truthfull. this only reflects you are not capable to even have stand for the truth it is so sad shame on you .. shame on you .. please read the following lines as just a true woman who has dignity and pride you will be touched .. try ladies to honest that all am asking

    Where is the women pride? where is the women dignity? I don’t see Hillary reflects that if am not mistaken “Billary”. She can’t claim the White House for cheap price by burring her dignity. Now you know what I am talking about. She is not the Ideal woman that I want to tell my daughters about. She can’t fix it is too late. It is absolutely not acceptable to speak on our behalf as women. Because, there is no women on the earth accept her husband humiliation over and over again, unless she is playing the dirty game too! Let me be fair and give her a credit’ so far! There is good pathway and bad pathway to achieve goals. And it is not always Ends that justify the Means! She would have my support if she had stood for her dignity as a woman in other words if she is only Hillay Radham. That why I strongly reject her as a vague woman. She didn’t respect the dignity of women in the past and will not represent the women of today and the women of the future.

    January 29, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Texans for Hillary

    It doesn't matter who Kennedy endorses, most people vote their own minds, and not what another poliitican does. Personally I wouldn't want an endorsement from someone who has such an unclean incident in his past. Hillary Clinton is better off without this endorsement.

    January 29, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. elaine


    January 29, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. Jayk

    When did it become acceptable for a person's race or sex to be a factor in your voting decision? And why does NOW think it has any right to judge/influence somebody else's support of a candidate? Ridiculous...

    People just don't want -Hillary- for President, I think people also agree with Sharpton that it is time for Bill to 'Shut Up'. Like somebody said earlier there are probably millions of women that would do better and be more likely to be elected president than a former first lady and senator who has already been around the block a couple times.

    January 29, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  18. jeff

    It is interesting that in all of this discussion of gender and race we aren't talking much about issues. I'm still upset about the war we started in Iraq and I remember that Obama voted against it when it was very unpopular to do so. I felt let down by my own Senator Clinton when she voted for it and I haven't forgotten. With all her so-called experience, where was she?

    January 29, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. Clintonhater

    This is rediculis ...if the NAACP released a statement like this againest some of the black leaders that support her the uproar would have been insane...now you have a womans group who just out right think that Hilary should get all female votes cause she's a women that Kennedy betrayed them and is only backing Obama cause he's a man...the more this goes on the more the american public gets to witness the type of BS that Obama is about changing...since when did Gender override Vision....I work with alot of white females and I burst there bubble every time this election gets brought up cause I always say the same thing...I made a informed choice in voting for Obama...why did you vote for HIlary?? there response "Oh cause she's a woman and the white house needs a Woman President"....just completely blew me out the water they don't know issue one about what she represents only that she's a woman and they wanna se a Woman president... females who think like this womans group needs a reality check

    January 29, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. Anonymous

    Who cares what NOW has to say. These idiots need to call the WAAAHHmbulance because I think we have some criers here.

    January 29, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  21. Greg

    I find it absurd that NOW-NY is bashing Kennedy. Everyone should be entitled to having their own opinions and any decent person should respect those opinions. I can't believe that NOW-NY is completely disrespecting Kennedy's choice to endorse Obama and even going so far as to say that he has betrayed them. The national NOW organization was wise for distancing themselves for those statements as I don't think any objective, rational person would agree with them.

    January 29, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  22. Barbara

    Stop the sufferage. No joking but if Hillary gave a real reason of conviciton over anything then maybe this would be a valued argument. The fact is NOW is just wanting to vote for a women they kind of forgot that this is about the one who's going to 'run' the country

    January 29, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. nadeem

    To see a real woman watch Caroline Kennedy, she is so genuine and authentic. To be so hopeful aster such tragedy in her life.

    January 29, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. janine jordan

    Sounds like NOW can't or won't face the fact that Hillary (Billary??) is a lying spinmeister. This is the objection to her that I hear from many women.

    January 29, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  25. Jonathan

    How is it a betrayal? It's not like supporting Hillary is supporting a woman anyway.

    January 29, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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