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. Mac

    Obviously they didn't get the word that Bill wants to be co-president.

    January 28, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  2. Sternberg

    Another Clinton administration will leave the Kennedys as has beens.

    January 28, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  3. AB

    Total and utter nonsense, and NOW should be ashamed for sounding like liberal equivalents of right-wing evangelical groups.

    January 28, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  4. Mo

    That's right Kelly, NOW is offensive. It has been fun to watch the dems play the race and gender card. If they were really "progressive" it wouldn't be an issue. I would choose a black women over either Barack or Hillary, but Condi Rice isn't running.

    January 28, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  5. Vote for Merit

    Forget race or gender and look at who is the most qualified for a moment.

    Is it someone who has been in the public spotlight for 35 years, delivered results through bipartisan efforts, and has handled attacks from the republicans consistently and survived..

    or a newcomer who plays safe by voting "present" many times and not stand up for his beliefs just so he can put himself in a position to be "acceptable"?

    This candidate is supposed to be one of the influential leaders of the world if elected president. We cannot have someone who sounds good, seems acceptable but is inexperience. America chose the "likeable" guy the last 8 years and look at the damage which has been done.

    January 28, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  6. mike

    Hillary will win ,vote for Hillary2008

    January 28, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  7. David, CA

    Wow. Someone must have gone haywire at the NOW New York office.

    January 28, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  8. Cindy

    I agree wholeheartedly with Kelly. I am totally insulted by this and think NOW is being extremely childish. I, too, would happily vote for a women for president if there were a woman running who I admired. I agreee with everything Sen. Kennedy said about Obama - I haven't felt this inspired by a candidate since Jack Kennedy and I hope Barack Obama wins the nomination. I think that Sen. Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy are endorsing Obama because they also see in him the hope for the future of our country. I don't see that in Hillary.

    January 28, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. Todd C.

    Well it's quite obvious that this womens group is quite hung up on the gender issue. But will someone please tell them it's not about gender, but about the absolute best qualifications to lead america on major and complex issues. Senator Kennedy has done his homework, and has chosen the best candidate to be our commander in chief. Excellent choice!

    January 28, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  10. patricia

    I will not vote for a black male. No way. This is the race that goes around calling everyone else a racist and yet they are the biggest racist, woman haters, calling women "Ho" . The only jobs black males can get are gangster, rappers and so called atheletes.... They are raised by single women on welfare. Father never takes responsiblity for their children. They only know how to talk in expletives!

    Can't you see Obama crying racist every time other countries diplomats don't negotiate and play his way. He will call them racist . That will be his mantra. ....

    Look who helped him win in South Carolina, single welfare black women....who have no idea what the issues are. I watch them on TV their only reason for choosing Obama ove Hilary was his color. Yes that is a good reason to elect someone president.... They are like lemmings lead them to a cliff and they will go over....

    January 28, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. Dowell

    A sad day for the NOW organization...

    January 28, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  12. name

    I don't mind a woman president, so long as it's not Hillary.

    Their statement is completely unrealistic, and it makes their group look very unintelligent.

    January 28, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. Adam, MI

    oh and Dave – wait until its Barack or Hillary vs a conservative (C'mon Mitt Romney!!!) – as a white male opponent, any GOP candidate victory over Obama or Hillary (from a debate to a commercial) will be called racist by Sharpton and Jackson at least once. Mark my words. Just like I've heard Obama supporters called "anti-woman" and Hillary supporters called racist. Only it'll be a republican under attack, so liberals will think its okay. What has this country's race-relations gotten to?

    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  14. Chip

    Well, now that Kennedy is in Obama's camp, Barak just picked up a soggy piece of luggage from the past. Kennedy is the most self centered jerk in our government. With the bull from the Kennedy's liberal clan, no longer can I support the potential fresh look and platform that almost made it. See you at the bottom of the pond, Teddy boy.

    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  15. mr.fair tax


    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  16. Pinga


    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  17. Ryan

    If there was a good presidential female candidate, it was Carol Moseley Braun.

    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. Duane

    I'm glad the national chapter distanced themselves from those remarks because they clearly sound like they were written out of anger and resentment. There have been few greater advocates for the causes that women accross America support than Senator Kennedy. Instead of respecting the fact that he may simply have a difference of opinion about who would be best to bring much needed change to the political direction of this country, they choose to lash out by attributing his motives to sexism. This is not only not supported by factual evidence, but is a dumb strategy if they have hopes of advancing thier own progressive agenda. Hillary Clinton (and husband) are polarizing figures to say the least who would have little hope of inspiring the type of ground swell of support from the American people that would be necessary to actually push forward a progressive platform. There are plenty of reasons for people to criticize Senator Kennedy, but this isn't one of them.

    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Just My Thinking

    oh...no...I couldn't be that Hillary just isn't the person for the job. It has to be a woman's issue.

    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  20. Liz

    Come on NOW – are you seriously attacking Kennedy for backing Obama?? I consider myself an independent, liberated female and I find the notion that Kennedy should support Hillary merely because she is a woman to be completely ridiculous. Are you mad at Caroline too for supporting Obama? Or Oprah? The only 'ultimate betrayal' here is being TOLD who we can vote for by NOW – after all the effort it took for us to even have the right to vote – I am certainly not going to be MADE to vote for Hillary – that negates the entire purpose of having a VOICE in government.

    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. Jeb

    What a divisive comment. Can you imagine the uproar this would cause if it was an African American group saying Kennedy had betrayed them for not backing Obama? Whoever wrote that statement should be fired.

    January 28, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. Murry

    CNN, I don't see a story about Toni Morrison's wonderful endorsement of Barack Obama in here. It was in the NY Times.
    Toni Morrison is for Barack Obama!!!

    January 28, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. Tobias Goulet

    As an very active member of the feminist movement I resent this gender based attack on Kennedy. These displays of ignorant accusation only serve to marginalize legitimate efforts to further womens rights. I believe that Kennedy's decision was not at all a 'betrayal' or an 'abandonment' Rather he sees, as many do, that what this country needs after 20 years of Clinton and Bush is change. This country was built on democracy not dynasties for a reason.

    January 28, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  24. John, NY

    wow...whats wrong with these women???? They are being sexist and nothing else. Close this frivolous state chapter – whatever it is.

    January 28, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. Jan, Evergreen, CO

    Come on N.O.W., Billary is NOT presidential material. I am a white, middle aged feminist female and a democrat but I tell you one thing, I would NEVER vote for Billary and her being a woman has nothing to do with it. Stop being so dam&ed sexist.

    January 28, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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