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. RH

    I am a woman, and this article about NOW has completely turned me off of voting for Hillary Clinton. Who does this group think they are? They do not speak for all women, and I will certainly NOT vote for someone simply because of their gender or race. That's absurd, and I'm appalled that this press release was even approved to be distributed. Hillary needs to have a talk with her supporters and let them know that talk about race and gender in regards to the election is not helping her case. This group is not promoting women's rights, it's promoting reverse discrimination.

    January 29, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. Andrew

    This is the ultimate betrayal- NOW can't or won't handle the idea of an African-American becoming President of the United States.

    NOW's endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit African-Americans hard. And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with their abandonment! They picked the old guard over us. They've joined the list of white men and women who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a African-American president who is Barack Obama.

    This latest move by NOW is so telling about the status of and respect for African-American rights, voices, equality, authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation — to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a president that is the African-American after centuries of white people who ‘know what’s best for us.’

    January 29, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. David

    DOH! Just what does Barack Obama stand for? Hillary? Anyone? Same old rhetoric, since they announced their bids for the President. Nothing new or definitive comes out of their campaigns.

    Hope? Care to elaborate anyone? Does that mean, more or less Government in our lives?

    As for Kennedy, he has been a pacifier in peoples lives, who can't or will not pick themselves up and "do" for themselves. Is that hope?

    As a lifelong Democrat, I want less Government, less rhetoric, less handouts and support from our Government, less foreign aid, and less taxes. Sound funny? If it sounds too far to the right, then all of you Bush hating Democrats wake up! I am not a GW fan by any means.

    Wake up fellow Democrats! The Government doesn't help you, you help yourself! This so called global economy dictates what you and I will be able to do. No jobs, no money, no hope! I have seen slowdowns or recessions before. It's not the end of the world. It is a never ending cycle. World history and Economics in High School taught us that. What makes it worse, is that many "third world" countries are now developing at an alarming rate to compete with the USA. We can't compete with people getting paid pennies an hour for labor. The third world global economy is so new and "ever" changing, we as a country, still haven't seen all of the effects, of what it can do to this country. They need to rise to the USA's level, not the USA, sinking to third world squallor level. Does that sound like hope?

    Neither Barack or Hillary show me much hope. Why? Presidents do not give us hope. We do! Presidents cannot change our country. We do! Our congressmen and women do. Our Senators do and we do.

    It's time we keep our hard earned money here, in the USA, eliminate foreign aid, lower taxes, have less government. Take care of this country and it's people.

    That's hope!

    Please do not vote for someone, who tries to be everything to everyone. That to me is false hope!

    January 29, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Anonymous

    OH PLEASE! goes true for the old saying that a woman can't do anything without a man! these nimwits, dimwits, gender card pulling idiots won't face reality! Why is it that anytime she looses, they're so quick to pull the gender card? I'm a woman and this is the VERY reason I have time and time again declined to join and/or support NOW. They may pretend to be independent women fighting for feminine causes but the reality is, they are so quick to pull the gender card when they are not in a comfortable position.
    Has Obama went around playing the rece card like the previous clowns Al Sharpton et. al did? NO! He has risen above it. So before NOW starts making all kinds of statements, they need to think twice.
    What a bunch of morons!

    E. Astor.

    January 29, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. EZE

    Who cares what Fat Head Kennedy has to say? I could care less who he endorses. Go Hillary!

    January 29, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. Linda L

    What the NOW organization fails to realize is that we don't need to elect a woman just to elect a woman. Hillary has been divisive and I don't believe she can build the coalitions across party lines to create solutions to the challenges that face us. Also, she is mired in the politics of the past and while she is very smart, that alone will not bring the leadership we need. She tried for 8 years to get health care coverage and came up empty. I do believe we need the experience of a person who can bring us together to solve the nations ills... male or female, black, white or purple. I believe Ted Kennedy is right and that Barack Obama is that person.

    January 29, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. J. Tate

    Funny thing about this article is the idea that Sen. Kennedy is not allowed to endorse the person he feels is the best candidate for the job. The issues this group has shed light on, are not issues that were brought up by Sen. Kennedy, but rather by themselves in an attempt to bash Sen. Kennedy's choice in endorsing Sen. Obama. Is this what politics has come to? It's no longer about the issues that are affecting the people of the U.S. but more about the best way to sink the other person's ship and make them look as bad as possible...Then we wonder why we have the issues we have in our country....

    January 29, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. Brando

    YOU FOOLS, Ted Kennedy = Status quo. He's the one who calls the shots in the DEM party. He's NOT saying to Barack "Atta boy", he's saying "I CAN get you the nomination QUICKLY, I.E the SUPERDELEGATES" in exchange for your administration, IT'S ALL BUSSINESS AS USUAL, IT'S THE OLD QUID PRO QUO. You just SOLD your (POLITICAL) soul to the devil. Now, the party OWNS you, Barack, and you OWE them. YOU could've change, once and for all, the (WASHINGTON'S) rules but I guess you were better than that. What a shame, what a shame....INDEED.

    January 29, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. David Miami FL

    This is the reason Prozac was invented:-)

    January 29, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  10. Sandra

    I am a working (white) 61 year old professional woman who is a pro-abortion and independent as hell and I think it is STUPID to say Kennedy abandoned US. Who are US???? We are not cattle, we can think for ourselves, and just because there is a smart woman (with her ex pres behind her) running, does not make her the best choice. Barack Obama is new, extremely intelligent, and as unencumbered with the stains of DC politics as we could ask for. His economics are too liberal for me, but his intelligent approach is fresh and way overdue. Kennedy has not betrayed me, so I guess I either need to have my gender reconfirmed and/or check into an institute for identity evaluation.

    January 29, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. Lina

    How dare they say "obligated" to vote for her just because she is a woman? "Obligated"? That is as sexist as it gets.

    Sometimes, the very few at the top of a local chapter of an organization such as NOW, pretend to speak for their entire membership, without having consulted that membership at all. I personally witnessed that, years ago, and in this case, I prefer to believe it has happened again, rather than think that NY state's NOW membership actually agrees with the sexist view expressed by their leadership's statement.

    January 29, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. LA-Ann Arbor

    Morrow has it right...the outrage NOW feels is about Ted Kennedy supporting a less qualified male. The only thing I'd add is I am not surprised by this and hope that William Kennedy Smith signs on to the campaign as well.

    January 29, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  13. John

    My recolection is that Napolitano is a woman for Obama and Obama seems to be getting an awful lot of Women endorsing his candidacy why do the women's groups not complain about this?? I was under the impression that Race nor Gender should become an issue in this race.

    January 29, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. fpr

    By using her husband to go after her opponent, by getting ahead through nepotism and connections and not her own accomplishments, Hillary Clinton is the greater traitor than Senator Kennedy.

    What does NYS NOW have to say about all those women who voted for Obama over Clinton? Are they traitors to the cause? Or do they just realize that it is time for new leadership in this country.

    Due to her personality and experience, Hillary Clinton would have never risen this far without her husband. She never would be a candidate for Senate or for President. She is the George W. Bush of this election: getting ahead because of her family connections.

    January 29, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  15. warren

    This is time for change after 16 years. Clinton is not electable because she belongs to old establishment. Even young women voters reject her. 100% over the 40 years femal would never elect a president.

    January 29, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  16. API

    What a shortminded view for an organization that claims to be on women's interest. Just because I am a woman is not enough to vote for one, until she shows me some substance, and not just talking for what had been done.

    January 29, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  17. xtina - chicago IL

    It's not so much that he betrayed women, but that Obama is hanging with a career politician, especially a Kennedy, is discouraging.

    January 29, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  18. CYA

    I was just as shocked at Sentor Kenneyd's endorsement, in fact I sent Senator Kennedy an email yesterday through his website expressing my disapointment., and this is not based on gender or race.

    Our country is presently in poor health, if we want the opportunity to have a democrate in the White House, then we need to nominate the best qualified candidate, the one with more experience and someone who knows the true workings of Washington politics.

    I hope people start waking up and looking at what's really at stake in the election.

    God help us all.

    January 29, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  19. Valerie Hendrix

    GET OVER IT!! He's the better Candidate!

    January 29, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. Tobias Person

    The Clinton Machine is desperately pressuring special interest groups into the lime light for what they view as political gain... at the cost of important social movements and a message of hope and dignity; two vital pieces of the fabric of any society.

    We need leadership in this country that inspires us to act in positive ways. This analysis by NOW of New York is another demonstrative development that shows that the Clintons, while well intending people, do not have the inspirational character that Barack Obama does!

    I hope that Americans will realize that this is the most defining difference between the leading candidates; Moral inspiration!

    January 29, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  21. tg

    So the only reason they want Hillary is because she is a woman?

    i think Hillary would be a fine president, but i think Obama would be phenomenal.
    If Kennedy feels that way too why is he being criticized?

    The Clinton's tactics in South Carolina have soured many of us.

    January 29, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  22. Lew Lambros

    Who really cares about Ted Kennedy endorsing someone? He's still Ted Kennedy.

    January 29, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  23. Ryan, New Jersey

    It's too bad that CNN didn't post this letter in full without cutting it up, in it's totallity it is mind-blowingly bad, and utterly sophomoric. I guess after race-baiting failed to win them SC, gender politics is plan B?

    January 29, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  24. Kay

    ... I am a white, female Democrat ... also a Senior Citizen who still remembers being enthusiastic and greatful when JFK tossed his hat into the ring . Noone has inspired like that since. It would be great to vote for a woman but I won't vote for a woman just to "vote for a woman." If Hillary gains the Democratic nod, I shall support her effort .. til then I will appreciate listening to Barack and his Hope for this country where I was born/raised. He has a vision that I dream about .........

    January 29, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  25. Jared

    Just another example of how divisive Hillary Clinton is on the American political landscape. I can't possibly comprehend how even the blue-est of Democrats would actually believe that she could win a general election. After seeing how quickly she and Bill bring race and gender into their campaigning, I'm fearful how far she would go to get elected. She is the only Democratic candidate that would compel me to vote Republican.

    January 29, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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