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, Kansas City, MO

    Can't we all just reach some common ground and fight the repugnant-cans instead of wasting time arguing about race or gender or other silly things?

    January 29, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. 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" pop up to let us know just how much work we have to do.

    January 29, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  3. Earl, New York City

    To paraphrase MLK:

    I have a dream that our children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the content of their pants, but by the content of their character.

    January 29, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  4. Hilary Hartman

    How completely and utterly moronic. Ted Kennedy and his family may endorse whomever they'd like. I'm usually a supporter of NOW, but not now in this case.

    January 29, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. Freda, Alabama

    Get over it! It's not about Kennedy endorsing a "man" over a "woman". It's about endorsing a "BLACK" man over a 'WHITE" woman.

    Get a life! Vote Obama!

    January 29, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  6. Clintonhater

    Cape Girardeau, MO January 29, 2008 9:54 am ET

    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

    This post is rediculus....do you females in this country know how to make an informed choice...You talk down about Obama only caring SC cause of the black vote completle overlooking that he crushed HIlary even in Woman voters down there and recided 25 percent of the white vote...I swear to god some of the women in this country need a reality check..

    January 29, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  7. Elizabeth

    Just because you are a woman doesn't mean you have to back Clinton. The last thing this country needs is her in office. She is inept.

    January 29, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  8. Penny

    I agree with NOW, I felt betrayed too, because if you look at what Clinton has actually accomplished on behalf of women and the absence of any such record for Obama, you might wake up a little. She has been responsible for so much for women and children worldwide you would not believe it-everything from being an early advocate for making early mammograms routine to as first lady being one of the first leaders to speak out against the treatment of women in Afghanistan, to the Family Medical Leave Act, to establishing the arms of the Justice Dept. to work on violence against women, to protecting Roe V. Wade, to backing efforts to get corporations to be more supportive of working moms, it goes on and on...
    What's even more interesting to me is that Obama supporters, and the press, don't want to put him under the same scrutiny as Clinton, it' a big love fest and everyone is putting their critical thinking skills aside. Just by surfing the net, I found that Obama was on the board of a rich Chicago foundation (The Joyce Foundation) that has been awarding grants to the Kennedy Library, and huge grants to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York, which Caroline Kennedy is the director of. Maybe there is more stuff going on than that-he's been courting these endorsements for years. Obama would surely call this "mudslinging", but to fail to see him as a calculating politician who has systematically sought power is a mistake.
    He is a great orator and speech writer, but that is not going to sway many in opposing political parties or the leaders of, say, Iran or China, or business leaders who oppose and bankroll efforts against health care or orher important policies. Presidential candidates make lots of public speeches, but presidents don't. He might be a good successor to Clinton (maybe), after she mops up Bush's mess. He talks the talk but Clinton walks the walk. Remember Al Gore, the guy who wasn't very exciting but everyone wishes was president now? And all those voters who "just liked" George Bush so voted him in?

    January 29, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. JP

    I live in New York, and this is a perfect example of how whacko some New Yorkers are in their love for Hillary Clinton.

    They seem to think of her as some kind of godly figure, and anyone who doesn't worship her is going to a bad place.

    Some New Yorkers are often out of touch with mainstream America. One guy I know in New York claimed Ohio only had a 5 percent black population, so Obama could never win there. Ohio actually has a 12 percent black population.

    It's time for mainstream America to follow Iowa's lead and choose the best candidate for our future.

    January 29, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  10. Chuck -Virginia

    Also, If she breaks down like that during a campaign, what will she do 2-3 years into office. As for Kennedy, he is free to support whomever he chooses. And maybe, just maybe , he see's something in Obama that he feels can lead this country forward. Something Hillary doesn't possess.

    January 29, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. literarygoddess

    Didi it ever occur to them that perhaps Kennedy feels Barack Obama is better suited for the positon, and that it has nothing to do with Clinton's gender?
    I do not believe that simply because a candidate is a woman is enough reason to vote for her.
    If a complete fool ran for the presidency, yet she was a woman, would NOW support her, based on her chromosomal make-up alone?

    January 29, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  12. Matt, Manchester, CT

    That's very good reasoning, NOW. Senator Kennedy shouldn't have used any other reasons to back a candidate other than sex. So when he didn't endorse Carol Moseley Braun as soon as she declared in 2004, was he a traitor then as well? What about in 2000 when there wasn't a female on the Democratic side, but Elizabeth Dole was running on the Republican side, was he a traitor then as well?

    Come off it, you bunch of loons.

    January 29, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  13. CDR

    I hope that the Billary campaign does does not try to smear Sen. Ted Kennedy now. But it looks like I am too late. The surrogates are already placing labels and trying to smear this good man. America is fed-up with those folks engaging in negative politics to tear down those in the very same party.


    January 29, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. PatriciaG

    Doesnt he have the right to pick whomever he wants? GET OVER IT!!!!

    January 29, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. cindy

    NOW expressed exactly what I felt last night as I watched the news. It is no surprise with white men like him that women were denied the right to vote in this country for many decaeds after they determined that they would allow black men to vote. God help us all!

    January 29, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  16. Kandi

    Give me a break! It's this kind of knee-jerk reaction to the old, tired accusation of "boys beating up girls" that make people sigh and/or angry – men AND women. This statement is absolutely ridiculous, and only hurts Clinton more. So be it. Ted Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy endorsed the candidate they truly feel will bring our country together. If it was not already glaringly obvious to Americans before South Carolina, anyone watching the Clinton Tag Team operate last week got a true sense of how divisive and "old" their politicking is, and what our country might be in for should they (and yes, I mean they) succeed to gain re-entrance to the White House. Americans are waking up to a refreshing change from the Bush/Clinton/Bush years of partisanship and divisiveness. Thank God!

    January 29, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  17. Lisa

    Well, he has shown "disloyalty" in the past by being slow on Title IX, Family Leave, etc. but you continued to champion him. Maybe NOW should have judged him more by his actions than by the fact he was a Democrat and a Kennedy! NOW deserves to have egg on their face over this one!

    January 29, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  18. pt

    Its sad in this day and age that we can only pick a candidate based on gender and not what they stand for and who they vow to protect.

    January 29, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. will

    just because you don't like Hilary does not mean you don't like women, way past the line,

    January 29, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Katherine

    NOW has gone over the edge on this one. People have all sorts (of different) reasons for making the choices they do. Sex MAY BE one. I was delighted to vote for Obama in our SC Democratic primary last weekend and am proud as a middle-aged, Caucasian female to have done so !

    January 29, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Sue Sandifer, Allen Texas

    I am a female. I will not vote for Hilary Clinton. I would vote for Atilla the Hun first. I am not a fan of Senator Kennedy either, but he has the right to endorse whom ever he chooses.

    January 29, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Chris

    The power of the Bubba is strong...

    January 29, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. George Wu, A.I.A.

    I am with you, Debbie, Lake Forest, IL. , in every word you said. I am a man, not a woman, and yet if I was fooled to join an Asian organization run by a group of special interest to bargain with the candidates, I would not be able to trust my own judgement any more. And I can guarantee that that organization already sold itself to Hillary months ago! But Hillary is not my choice!

    January 29, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. marge

    "Wow are the comments on this board really silly. NOW isn't saying to vote for Hillary because she is a woman, they are saying that Kenedy, and his rude and devisive speach, are offensive at its core…."

    Oh Please lets give equal time. Kennedy's statements are rude and devisive????? How would you catagorize those statements made by Bill Clinton??? Warm and Fuzzy????

    January 29, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  25. Hello from SC

    I don't think Ted Kennedy helps Obama at all. I'm glad he didn't endorse Hillary; he would make her look bad. He's the kiss of death – just like he was for John Kerry.

    January 29, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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