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. John, Tampa

    One more reason I am not voting for Clinton

    January 29, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. Mary

    People stop already. If senator Kennedy endorse Obama that is his choice and people should not read meaning into it. All of us are created by one person GOD and him alone owns all of us. Let us get alone on this borrowed time that we are leaving.

    January 29, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. richarddetrich

    Why is it that race and gender need to be highlighted? It's about leadership, stupid, not race or gender!

    January 29, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. Dar

    First, why are people allowing what NOW had to say to sway their vote on Senator Clinton, that's rediculous. For those of you who say it shouldn't be about race or gender, I agree, however, I don't believe SC believed that. And finally, for someone who wants to go away from the old way of Washington politics and those who have had so much power for so long, (ie: the Bush and Clinton families), he has no problem smooshing up to Senator Kennedy and courting him for his endorsement. Sounds like Washington politics as usual and he did it with the most infamous family who has held so much power longer than the Bush's and the Clinton's put together. I've noticed recently how Obama's words and actions are contradicting each other. He is a politician like all the rest, get over it people, wake up.

    January 29, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  5. Angela

    Why is CNN even giving this any coverage – I support Hillary but think that their accusations are wide of the mark.

    As for Kennedy's endorsement – it could be a double-edged sword.

    Seeing Kennedy endorse Obama will make some independents and Republicans who support Obama have second thoughts.

    That being said – I do believe that anyone who is influenced by an endorsement (for any candidate) quite frankly doesn't deserve the vote.

    I wish CNN would actually cover the real issues. I want a bit more substance than the glitz and superficial politics we seem to have rght now. Personally, I"ve no problem with Obama – I just don't think he's the best candidate – but could be a good future candidate especially if he became VP. At present all I can see is the silky rhetoric – I'd like him to put a bit more meat on the bones and make clearer what his vision actually is.

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


    January 29, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  7. Travis

    Really, it's absurd to think that they are complaining about Kennedy picking Obama for the fact that he doesn't want a woman President, but it is more absurd to think that there is an organization of women that want to pick a President because she is a woman.

    January 29, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. mike

    Okay...I haven't weighed in before...but this is getting out of control. I am an Obama supporter, however, I will vote for Clinton if she is the nominee...even after the shady race baiting comments of Bill. But, the level of anger over all of this is just plain distressing. It is not Clinton or Obama per se that are driving this, but their supporters, especially Clinton supporters who can't stay away from name calling. Both senators are right on all the issues...what's the deal?

    January 29, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  9. Jeffrey Webb

    Senator Kennedy chose Barack Obama to support because Barack Obama is for ALL AMERICANS and that includes women. To state that choosing Barack Obama somehow undermines women is like by choosing to buy apples today instead of bananas is somehow disrespectful to to the other fruit. For crying out loud Obama is the BEST choice we have! Hillary, smart as she is, is a divisive figure that will only hinder the progress we desperately need in this country. Do not play the gender card, do not play the race card, please play the SMART card and Barack is the smartest one out there!!!

    January 29, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  10. Seth

    Lets vote for a woman that is a GOOD candidate, not just a woman.

    Hillary is corrupt, she is a Clinton, and she isn't a good person.

    So why should I vote for her?

    January 29, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  11. Eric

    What's with getting his endorsement anyway? Just because his last name is Kennedy doesn't mean he's someone you should have supporting you. Male or female, black, white, hispanic, native american, etc...it shouldn't matter. What should matter is if you believe in their ideals and their programs they are putting forward.

    January 29, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  12. Sheldon cole

    This outcry is all most as sad as saying that Blacks should vote for Obama because he's black. We are getting closer to a country that votes based in issues not race or gender but we are not close enough. These types of "reminders" pops up to let us know just how much work we have to do.

    January 29, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. George Wu, A.I.A.

    All the things happened in the past three weeks indicated some body is really desperated....... (Well, I will be "Your comment is awaiting moderation" if Isaid more than what I have said here. And my statement is obvious enough for any one who has been following the endorsements from Caroline and Ted ...)

    January 29, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  14. Linda

    Put me down as a traitor too then. I won't vote for someone whose character, ethics, truthfulness, and experience are questionable just because she and I are of the same gender. It's insulting to suggest that anyone should.

    January 29, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  15. Camille Mcdonald

    Ands I voted for Jack for President?, you are a 2 faced hypocrite. Hillary would make the first woman presiden who could bring this country t back to where it once was before the Bush era

    January 29, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. Chuck -Virginia

    I, like some others, am not opposed to a female president. I am opposed to Hillary Clinton as president. From day one her (and Bill's) arrogance have led them to believe that they should be ushered straight to the top of the Democratic Ticket and be elected simply because she is a female and aClinton.
    She is a polarizing figure, not a uniting one. Her episode in New Hampshire showed me she is weak rather than human.

    January 29, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. Andrew K

    What does NOW-NY have to say about Caroline Kennedy's endorsement?

    January 29, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. Kathy, Albany, NY

    As a progressive woman who has worked in the corporate world and seen bias based on gender, I am absolutely insulted that NOW would encourage women to vote strictly on the basis of gender. What message does that give to women, that we are to vote solely on gender and not on integrity or intellect or policy? It insults the very intellect and capabilities that we strive to move forward in our cause. That is like saying that just because someone is African-American that they should vote for "their guy" or else they are a traitor and that they are not capable of understanding and voting intelligently on the issues, how insulting! I refuse to vote based upon something that is the very target of so much bias in our country – we see it with race, faith, gender, etc. Let's support candidates because of what they bring as a potential leader and vote based upon factors like how they would lead and whether or not we agree with them on the issues.

    I personally will vote for a candidate who says that race or gender doesn't matter and who is best qualified to unite us and lead us forward – it is only when we can be blind to that, that we can really glimpse at equality. In working for corporate America, the thing that insulted me the most was when managers would comment or focus positively on me based upon being "a girl" versus respecting my intellect and leadership. I want for my children, for my daughters, to know that the right woman can be president, but Hillary, in my opinion, is not the one. I don't want to tell my daughters that "yes, you can be president but you need to stay married to a powerful man (even when he disrespects you and your marriage) to get there." I demand better than that. I demand a real uniter, someone with real judgment and integrity, who can get beyond that – OBAMA '08!

    Kathy in NY

    January 29, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. Daniel

    I think NOW lost the basic concept of presidency? I think American are looking a leader who runs their destiny not gender. Intsead of telling us the quality of Hillary over Obama , they prefer gender over leadership. In the last couple of weeks we saw the true Clinton/polarizing our destiny to be elected. Truly Speaking there are millions American who can perform better than Clintons. Failed mission.

    January 29, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. Georgina Green

    I am a woman, and I am calling a lot of people who have sent a message on this article and NOW-NY out on being a sexist!!!!!

    People, vote for who you think should be the next President, not because somebody is a black or heavens forbid..........a woman!

    January 29, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Helen

    It is difficult to believe that any veteran of the senate could honestly believe that a two year senator is really qualified to run the country. The old establishment senators are backing Obama–there may be something to the idea that they can't deal with the idea of a woman president. This actually makes Clinton the anti-establishment candidate. As far as Bill's role in this campaign–he has been campaigning for months, but now the press is intensely covering him, giving the public a warped perception of what is really going on. Michelle Obama has excersised some poor judgment in some of her comments, but we only get the news the media wants us to hear.

    January 29, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  22. Nicola Di Ferrante

    Does Kennedy wishes to be vice-President if Obama wins?
    He is old enough to retire before doing additional damage.

    January 29, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. pl. at the UN for a while.

    But what if this endorsement really counted for something?!
    Why should the Kennedys count, anyways?

    January 29, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. Glazed, Detroit metro

    This endorsement is all about race and not male/female. The cry-baby has gone arround and complained about this inability to complete and balckmailed the Democratic party establishment of "NO BLACK VOTE" if no help.

    This is what the kennedy's do. Buckle to blackmail – stroy of the clan.

    January 29, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  25. STORY

    shame, shame on the kennedys, would have been much prettier if they were kept quiet

    January 29, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
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