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. Jeff - Jax, FL

    NOW is simply PETA for women....and they're just as fanatical.

    A good idea gone terribly awry because of zealots and inflexibility.

    January 29, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  2. Andy J, NY

    Shame on you, NOW of NY. This is absolutely disgusting, and is a perfect example of what is wrong with our country today. I don't care who supports any of these candidates, as long as the support is based on THE ISSUES, not something as stupid and trivial as gender or race. And yes, gender and race are stupid and trivial to me, because to me they genuinely don't matter. You have to be a biggot to support a candidate based on race or gender.. whether you support a man or a woman, a black or a white candidate, you must support that candidate on the basis of the issues, otherwise you are either a sexist or a racist, plain and simple.

    January 29, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. Kevin, Illinois

    Are they all on their monthly cycle? Who cares about the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee. These are lobbyist and not even worth a story. Talk about injecting Gender into the Race. Ted Kennedy backed Barack Obama because he felt he was the Right Candidate at the Right Time. That's all.

    Change your rags, N.O.W... And get over it. Hillary is not electable because he husband is an idiot, Republicans hate her, and she is a decieving and unethical politician.

    January 29, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  4. Cape Girardeau, MO

    Thank you for backing Hillary. I was so disappointed with the Kennedy's also.
    I want Hillary president with all my heart she deserves it and is ready for it.
    It isn't Obama's time yet. All women must band together and get her elected. If you want something done, get the women to do it.
    Let's go Hillary.
    Glenda M

    January 29, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Michael Dunn

    Hey NOW it's not the idea of a woman president....It's HILLARY; i would think you'd be fighting equally hard against her as she could give women a bad name. If your support of her is only because she's a woman then it's blind and you need to re-evaluate; I genuinely hope that some day we'll have a woman for president, just not this one.

    But following your logic; if Kennedy supporting Barak shows him as abandoning women, then the it would stand to reason that your lack of support for Barak and choice for Hillary makes the NOW you racist; perhaps we should change what NOW stand for from "National Organization of Women" to "Now Only Whites"....I realize that this is ridiculous just as your criticism of Kennedy for coming out for Barak is equally ridiculous.

    January 29, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. David, Gilbert Arizona

    You gotta be kidding me. So let me get this straight, Kennedy is not allowed to endorse anyone except a woman? That is beyond ignorant. Could it possibly be that Kennedy has endorsed one candidate over the other because...oh I don't know...he thinks that candidate is more qualified regardless of race or gender?

    The leadership of NOW have done their organization a great disservice by making themselves out to be victims when in fact they are no such thing. What a disgrace.

    January 29, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. whatabout

    What happened to endorsing the RIGHT candidate regardless of race, gender, etc. This further shows how out of touch with reality NOW is.

    January 29, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. Jonathan

    I have to think that one contributing factor in Kennedy's endorsement is that Hilary spent a lot of energy bashing No Child Left Behind last week – a program that Ted Kennedy designed with Presient Bush. He takes a lot of pride in that program. Not a smart move by the Clinton camp. NOW's statements are rediculous.

    January 29, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  9. Dave

    I cannot believe that CNN deleted my comments because I repeated that NYS-NOW said last week that Clinton was being "gang raped by men that fear a powerful woman." EXCUSE ME, CNN.COM, BUT THE FACT THAT THOSE WORDS ARE SO OUTRAGEOUS IS EXACTLY THE POINT, and it's pathetic that you would find it more important to sanitize this board of any words that might make people upset than to let the public know we have an influential organization using highly inflammatory hyperbole to make a point and get what they want. The fact that the president of the New York State chapter of NOW is releasing these noxious press releases that stem from an under-siege mentality IS NEWS, and it should be reported. Since you wouldn't do it, I did it for you.

    January 29, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  10. virginia ostrom

    Good for you ladies.....

    Shame on Kennedy.....I've lost respect for the Kennedy name...True Womanizer Ted!!!!

    Go Hillary!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. A REAL WOMAN'S Voice of Reason


    I'm a graduate of an all women's university. Trust that I would love to see the first woman president in my lifetime. Quite frankly, tho, Hillary Clinton would not serve as a worthy benchmark for this accomplishment!! She is no Bhutto, she is no Margaret Thatcher!!

    NOW doesn't represent intelligent woman who are free thinkers. They focus on women as a collective group which furthers the problem. It's about individual liberty, folks. NOT COLLECTIVISM.

    As a woman, educated by women....NOW DOES NOT REPRESENT ANYTHING I STAND FOR!!!! I say who cares about their feelings being hurt???

    January 29, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. Kyle - Florida

    This hardly even qualifies as news. This will have nothing to do with the greater election of either Obama or Clinton, thanks CNN for wasting my time.

    January 29, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Narcissus, the girlfriend

    If only it were a Woman running for president I would so be overjoyed. We have a hawk/liar in sheep's clothing instead. I have been an activist all my life. Give me a break. Nancy Pelosi Clinton is NOT! Can't NOW read, write or do researchabout who this person is Let's just look in the mirror and enjoy the view of the length of her hair, thinking that it is a victory for our sex. Rediculous!

    January 29, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  14. kay

    I think this word "change" better be defined. Seems as though every one has a different idea of what it means.

    January 29, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  15. Andy J, NY

    Did you know that if you support a man, simply because he is a man, you are a sexist?

    And isn't is great that if you support a woman, simply because she is a woman, you are NOT a sexist?

    Give me a break. I'm so sick of this garbage. Shame on you all.

    January 29, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. John

    I'm sure the good ladies of NY-NOW who published this are still quite angry that none of the Duke lacrosse players has been jailed/castrated for for the audcacity of being male.

    January 29, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Jacquie

    Are we worse than the candidates themselves? I think we Americans are all smart enough to rise above this political drama of just one well known person and make an informed decision ourselves and not rely on Sen. Kennedy's choice. Lets not make this election about the Kennedy's and who the politicians side with, let's make this about us and the issues. Let's not get hooked up in the politics of it all.

    January 29, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Debbie, Lake Forest, IL

    I am a woman and I believe that NOW should get over it. I back Obama and have so since over a year ago. The way I look at it is, I choose the person I believe would have the best chance to unite the people of the U.S. and repair the damage the U.S. has done in the eyes of the rest of the world. I don't need any man, woman, party or organization to tell me the way I should vote. Unlike others, I can think for myself.

    January 29, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. JoR

    It is good to see the the New York chapter of NOW has more backbone than the National headquarters. Men, a women's group cannot voice their opinion? NOW's mission is to represent women.

    Talking about immaturity, I found that Senator Obama's behavior to Hillary Clinton horrific while she went to spoke to Ted Kennedy during the State of the Union. He turned his head and would not even acknowledge her. Great qualities in a leader!

    January 29, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Brasileiro

    Who cares about what the Women's group say?

    January 29, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    WAA WAA the whiners sing.... Kennedy can back whom he chooses.... Why on earth should Kennedy endorse Shrillary? His move was obviously as much an anti-Clinton one as it was a pro-Obama one. GET IT?

    January 29, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  22. Dianna - Oklahoma

    In my youth I was a member of NOW but realized they were too extreme for my taste and left. The idea that we should blindly follow Hillary Clinton into the White House because she is a woman is offensive to me. I want to see a female President and hope I do in my life time, however it is not her and not now I pray. She will be a nightmare if she gets in (which I do not believe she will). She will set everything backwards for women the next argument will be ‘well we tried that look at Hillary Clinton’ and here we are at square one starting over. Hillary is shrill, polarizing, divisive and I am sorry but it is true unlikable on the public stage. And to all the Hillary supporters I ask this, are you so naive as to think if they gets the party nom the republicans will not drag her and Bill through the mud and make us all look bad. Is it so hard as a Democrat to actually want to win and take steps to do so?

    January 29, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. ed presciutti

    What better Than a MOTHER ,? I am one of those men that isn't at all bothered by the idea of a woman running our country . i have supported HIllary with donations, and i will continue to support her. Who!!! better than a woman, mother, and wife with plenty of government experiance ? certainly not Obama. or for that matter any of the other candidates on both sides. Hillary is ready to lead this great nation of ours into the future. I believe that out of all the candidates she is the most experienced, sincerest , most honest , and most capable of accepting the challenges our country faces today. EDDIE.

    January 29, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Phillip-Pensacola, FL

    What about issues? Maybe Kennedy felt like he sided with Obama more than Clinton? It is sad that NOW (who claims to oppose sexism) continues to promote it by ridiculous actions like this. What they are calling for is Kennedy to base his political endorsements based on sex, which is by definition sexism. What a sad, sad reality...

    January 29, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. Mike Smyth, New Orleans, Louisiana

    NOW should be glad that Obama, and not Clinton, got the endorsement of the Kennedy clan. Nobody has polarized and ignited the neocon movement like Kennedy. And frankly, I wouldn't consider a Kennedy endorsement as a 'lucky shamrock.'

    January 29, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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