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. Pharaoh

    wow, NOW sounds crazy... i agree with your analogy Dave
    "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That's like if Jesse Jackson argued that anyone doesn't support Barack Obama must be racist."

    Media got so much heat last few weeks on making it about Race and Gender, ...then NOW turns right around says Kennedy should endorse clinton because she is a women LOL, humans are not gonna make it tell you!

    January 29, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. An Agnostic Democrat

    This version of feminism is as dated as Hillary. I'd abort her as my choice for president, too. It's not like Ted Kennedy owes NOW anything other than his continued support of womens' issues in Congress.

    Wow! This is about as playground mentality as it gets! You like the boy better than the girl, and now I'm gonna tell everyone how you betrayed us! Sounds like a page right out of the Billary playbook!

    It's not about gender, it's about leadership and qualifications, and Hillary (the strong (?) woman candidate) has already proven she can't lead on her own without being propped up by hubby and padding her resume with his accomplishments. In her identity crisis and finding her voice, She hasn't even been able to decide which version of Hillary she is.

    Face it ladies!!! If if she wasn't Bill Clinton's wife, she'd be a mere blip on the radar screen of politics!!!.

    January 29, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Allan

    I am sick and tired of this crap. Why are we so divided over candidates? Obama or Hillary, it doesn’t matter because they are both democrats. But lately, I am sick and tired of hearing people bashing about Hillary just because they are die hard Obama’s fans. What is so great about Obama? Have he done anything that is so significant and well deserve besides giving great speech? No one even heard of him until 2 yrs ago. Enough is enough. I am voting for Hillary because I am sick and tired of people praising Obama for I don’t even know what he done for this country or Illinois.

    January 29, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Mary T James

    I am a white woman over 55 and I support Barack Obama for president. We got experience when we put Cheney and Rumsfeld in charge. Look what that EXPERIENCE got us! Hillary is divisive and there are millions of people out there who hate her, rightly or wrongly, she will divide the country, NOT UNITE IT! She does not attract INDEPENDENT voters. Obama does! She will lose the election to the Republican whoever he is! This election is not about race or gender and I wish people would stop trying to make about either one.
    We need a younger voice who doesn't carry the Clinton baggage and who brings Hope to America and the world. He is reminicent of JFK and RFK and he has their speech writer, Ted Sorenson, as an advisor.

    January 29, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  5. Elinda


    .......... I agree!

    January 29, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  6. Melanie King

    Sorry, NY NOW, but the Kennedys (and anyone else) have the right to support any candidate they want. You don't vote for skin color or gender for president. You vote for the person you think will do the best job. I'll vote for Hillary next week if I decide she's the right person to lead the country after Bush finally leaves, but I'm certainly not going to choose her simply because we're the same sex. That's ridiculous.

    January 29, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. pbj, San Ramon, CA

    So NOW "hushed [up] the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act"? After betraying their own principles, they now have the gaul to accuse Kennedy of betraying them?

    Doesn't NOW want people to be judged not by their gender but by the quality of their character, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr.? Kennedy is supposed to follow lock-step and endorse Clinton because she's a woman, regardless of whether his judgment is that Obama is the better candidate? It's this kind of attitude - that disagreement equals betrayal - that will cost Hillary the election.

    January 29, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. male pig

    Perhaps NOW should change their name to WHINE!

    January 29, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. CD

    I'd like to know if NOW-NY would support a Republican woman running for president? I would venture they would pick a Democratic man over a Republican woman. What a statement. For a "progressive" (use that loosely) organization, NOW-NY is actually extremely close minded.

    January 29, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. BJ Jenkins


    January 29, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. Russell

    Keep it up. Why dont you just come out and say you want to make this the female candidate vs. the minority candidate and try to polarize everyone. These are the very issues that will split a party and drive voters away.

    Why cant we just choose a candidate based on their merits? Each candidate has strengths and areas of opportunity.

    January 29, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. Gloria

    As a woman I am thoroughly appalled at NOW! THEY are the ones throwing women back to the 19th century, not Ted Kennedy. No woman with half a brain or and sense of self-worth would vote for a candidate simply based on gender. And their contention that TK should automatically endorse 'their' candidate because they have looked the other way and supported him through his bad-boy efforts is equally appalling: if they had any true sense of self-worth, they would condemn him for his actions, but clearly they did not because of political expediency rather than honest support.

    January 29, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Cory - Montana

    I disagree with NOW. As Americans we have a right to choose a candidate no matter if they are male, female, black, white or other. If Kennedy chose Obama it was because he was the best person for the job. What if the female candidate was horrible and did not have a clue about our country, does that mean NOW would still expect Kennedy to choose her once again just because she is a women. Unbelievable!!!

    January 29, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. steve

    yet again, women prove themselves to be overdramatic and unreasonable when anything they don't want to happen happens...

    January 29, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. Clintonhater

    cindy January 29, 2008 10:15 am ET

    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!

    women are truly lost in this country..

    January 29, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Julia Byrd, Hayden, Idaho

    I have always been a supporting of women's rights and equal rights for everyone including the unborn. It's not about women and it's not about men. It' s not about race, it's about human beings.

    January 29, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Karen from Minnesota

    Why was this branch of the Kennedy's given so much presstime? Bobby Jr, ,Kathleen and Kerry Kennedy endorsed Hillary and they did not get any press. Obama's "good" things get press; Hillary's "bad" things get press but not vice-versa. What gives?

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

    oh – and of course a typical white man will go for Obama over Hillary. Let's not forget that black men had the right to vote before women did.

    January 29, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. ben

    THANK YOU _ NOW_ for attaching such ludicrous and absurd accusations to the Hilary camp. We Obama folks appreciate your support...for Hilary.

    Keep up the good work.

    January 29, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Cindy A

    Well, this article seems like a set back for women-kind. However, Ted is a disappointment all around. I never liked him. In fact I don't see what the big deal is! What clout does the Kennedy family hold?? Really when you think about it... they are rich! They have money...sure they play politics and are often elected because of their names... but I don't vote because of endorsements. I vote because of my intelligence and conscience. Personally, I think Obama would make a good president in the future. I do think Hillary is the one to vote for now. Leave her husband out of this race.

    January 29, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. Andrea, AZ

    Ok, to start with, this is offensive. If this is what America can expect if we have a woman running (even if she's being carried on her husband's back), is this what we really want?

    I'm amazed at what appears to be a huge group of women in this country who think it's their female duty to "support their girl" when their girl is practicing a kind of politics they've been screaming about for 8 years. And, when their girl is only there because of her man. That's right. I said it. I know it infuriates some women who don't want to admit the truth but it's the truth nonetheless.

    We SHOULD elect a woman as President. It should not be this one. How about the woman who gave the Democratic response last night, Kathleen Sebelius? How about Janet Napolitano? How about any of the other Governors who will be able to stare down a Republican and say "I have executive experience"?

    January 29, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. Traci

    WOW – I am just floored that a group in support of women's issues would "hush the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few." That just shows that these groups are more into backing a political party then those just seeking out those who support their cause.

    I wish this election would turn into a primary of 2 candidates and not the woman candiate vs the black candiate . . .How about which one would run the country better??

    January 29, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. Toney

    As a conservative there is NOTHING more enjoyable than watching the fragile and phony coalitions of liberal groups now turn on each other and show their true agendas. The SAME agendas that they have vilified Republicans and conservatives for years about promoting. The blacks are for the black and the women are for the woman. Boy, that's "PROGRESSIVISM" at it's best! Thanks for making the '08 election a CAKE WALK! Go MITT Go!!

    January 29, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. corky

    Ted Kennedy endorsing Obama hmmm... Change what Change. If Ted Kennedy isn't old washington politics what is. Hillary 2008. CNN is pro Obama all the way only reports anything that sounds anti- Clinton. Maybe Cnn should spend more time doing their job as Journalist's intstead of sitting around looking for news on canidates that isn't worth reporting unless it suits their purpose like slanted in Obama's favor.

    January 29, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. Isabella Clark

    Maybe if Ms. Clinton would actually run on her own record and not use her husband to do her dirty work, we might feel that this was the first woman we would want to be President. But, I am not voting for anyone just because she is a woman. Her reliance on old political thinking is a great disappointment. There is no difference between her and white male politicians other than her gender. I was so for Hillary until I started to listen to her. I felt she was inauthentic and facile. I saw her in a Katie Couric interview where Hillary responded time after time with canned answers. At one point Couric asked her if she ever thought of the possibility of losing. Clinton responded, (I paraphrase) "No. No, I never think of losing. It never enters my mind."
    "Really?," Katie asked.
    "No, never, " Clinton responded. "I get up every morning thinking about what is good for America and how many Americans I am going to speak to today and hear their stories."
    Does she EVER get real? Of course she thinks about losing, she would be inhuman if she did not. I rest my case.
    So New York NOW should do some of their own soul searching. Whether Hillary was a man or a woman, she is the wrong person at the wrong time. Her instincts are wrong, her manner is wrong, her history is wrong. Worse, her heart is closed to being authentic. She is no longer capable of being simply open-hearted, it is all calculation. And, let me finish by saying, if anyone let down the women's movement down it was Bill Clinton and his libidinous scandals. And exactly where was NY NOW then?!

    January 29, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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