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. AJ, IL

    WOW! Alot of comments from women that says support Hillary because she is a woman. This is like the NAACP chapter of Illinois issuing a statement about Ted Kennedy is racist, because he didn't endorse Obama. Hmmm...a feminist PAC who funds and supports Hillary. Wasn't Hillary trying to copy Obama and Edwards with her claim that special interests are influencing Washington? Here is Hillary's moment to deny a special interest group publicly. Where is she?

    January 29, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. Jackie

    I'm sorry to say, but perhaps this is why white men were afraid to give women the vote in the first place. Because they knew it would come to this...women voting for women for no other reason than the fact that the candidate is female.

    What's next, "Oh, I like her dress...let's make her president!"

    Thanks NOW, you've set us back another 100 years.

    January 29, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. George Wu, A.I.A.

    Negative campaigns always indicated somebody is about to die and makes the last effort to come back! Any intelligent person would have known that! dancewu(dot)net

    January 29, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. km

    The oppression of women and minorities in absolutely undeniable, and the validity of Hillary Clinton as a candidate is undeniable as well. The notion of minorities oppressing each other in a battle for national leadership is the zephyr that the
    Clintons unleashed in S.Carolina, and it is this foul wind that is blowing back into their face. Bill and Hillary Clinton have oppressed themselves and in such a way
    that they have lost their savor for me after years of loyal support. It is very important when you are oppressed to draw the distinction between it being external or internal.

    January 29, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. kate

    I'm a woman and I've never been a huge fan of Ted Kennedy, but there's no way I'm picking a candidate because of their gender (or race or religion or sexual orientation, for that matter). There are plenty of women I would be proud to vote for and campaign for, but Clinton isn't one of them. To suggest I should support her simply because we're both female is absurd and insulting.

    Or maybe NOW-NY thinks us silly girls can't make up our own minds.

    January 29, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. RP

    I am a Hispanic woman, legal alien, naturalized citizen, and I'm not voting for Hillary just because she's a woman. That is the most negative aspect of her campaign "vote for me because I'm a woman". Sorry, the presidency is the most important job in this country at a time when, more than ever in the history of the US, we need a a positive leader; regardless of gender or race. Hillary doesn't make the grade.

    January 29, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. POed Lib

    It's always bad when women's groups fall into their stereotypes. That's what we have here: A bunch of hysterical ninnies who can't think are just yammering on and making typically feminist stupid statements.

    January 29, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. z,new york, ny

    Oh please. Blatantly playing the gender card.

    Also, isn't NOW mostly WHITE women? see? I can play the race card!

    January 29, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Carol, Pittsburgh, PA

    Oh puh-leeze!! These women need to get a grip (and a life!) I haven't heard such rubbish since NOW tried to recruit me back in the 70's!! As a woman with a mind of her own, I applaud Senator Kennedy's decision, as well as Caroline Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy's, to support Sen. Obama's vision for the future. Ted Kennedy's objection was not that Senator Clinton is a woman but that she and her hubby (whom I used to admire) are running a smear campaign and dividing the Democratic party! Any betrayal is not on Senator Kennedy's part!

    January 29, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. Will

    Yes, voting simply because a person looks like you is wrong and stupid. You need to look at what a person represents not gender of race. I as a male would happily vote for a woman president but not Hillary. She is actually a horrible example for the first woman president. Women rights is not about saying it is a women's duty to brake up with your husband if he cheats on you and then do the exact opposite.

    She became a Senator of NY by buying a condo which she rarely lived in and calling it residency because she knew she would never win in her home state that loathes the Clintons. She and her grandmother took the most expensive tour in air force one history the last year of Clinton's presidency on our tax dime, not to help anything politically. Just to take a nice trip. She also attempted to take white house artifacts because she felt they were gifts to her and her husband for being there. She says she is for a change in healthcare but she is backed purely by the current companies that profit over high medical costs and HMOs.

    She is currently going to campaign in Florida. Something she and the other candidates vowed not to do for the democratic party because Florida will not count. She is doing this purely to say that Obama winning is a fluke but she is going against her own pledge and the Democratic party. She is def. a polarizer.

    Kennedy rarely mentions his brother and rarely supports people in the primaries. I think he was truly inspired by Obama as I am and as Carol Kennedy is. Notice no one has given her a hard time for supporting a male.

    January 29, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. A woman

    Voting for Clinton simply because she is a woman wouldn't be any different to voting for Obama because of the color of his skin. I guess we Americans have become too ignorant of the issues that we now vote for our leader based on appearance...at the least, that is how we are treated by too many organizations and the media.

    Maybe next someone will tell us to vote for McCain as a show of support for aging citizens.

    January 29, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. Maridell Templeton

    I am a woman lawyer who predates women's lib. True liberation of women is when a woman will be judged on her qualifications alone–not on her sex. The Kennedys are truly expressing women's lib when they choose an individual who appears to be trying to stay above the fray. There is no betrayal here. We shouldn't use the gender card any more than we should use the race card.

    January 29, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. Janet

    London, England.

    Who America votes for President is its business except for the fact that whoever you choose effects us here in Europe. George Bush has caused us nothing but grief. The thought of another Republican is scary so I find Ted Kennedy's naivety in handing the next Presidency to another Republican scary: for that will be the result. Harping back to Kennedy and the idealism of the Sixties is totally irrelevant to aiding the practical problems that ordinary Americans are experiencing in 2009.
    Whilst Obama has his head in the clouds, Hilary Clinton has her feet on the ground because she sees and understands them as many women do.

    January 29, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Stacy Clarks, Texas

    I am so appaled by NOW's position. So Im to pick the next leader of the world based on gender? Im to pick the next leader of the world based on emotions, thats absolutley stupid. Im a female, who believes in women's rights, but that does not mean im automatically supposed to elect Hillary because she's a woman. Politics like this got us in trouble with Bush, and i hope it does not do the same this time around!!

    OBAMA/EDWARDS 08!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Heather

    This is identity politics at its worst. I am a feminist, but I support Obama because I believe he is a better candidate. And voting for Clinton because she's a woman may very well backfire, as a failed Clinton presidency-weakened by being a copresidency-might hurt future chances for stronger, more independent female candidates who try to run in the future.

    January 29, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. J Wilson

    This has the smell of the Clinton Campaign all over it. What a coincidence that the NY NOW chapter feels betrayed...

    Isn't it amazing how ugly Team Clinton has gotten since they can't compete with charisma and character.

    January 29, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. matt

    Since when was this election supposed to be about who is more "pickable" a black man or a woman. Every time race or gender are brought up in this race, it's easy to see how this country hasn't changed its bigotry the last 50 years. Vote for who the best candidate is, and maybe just maybe we'll have a predjudice free election.

    January 29, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. Bryce

    Kinda makes sense that a womans group is supporting the woman candidate. Just like it makes sense that balck group support the bnlack candidate....

    I know Al sharpton and Jesse Jackson are on Obama's side despite not having had the time to do anything in the senate yet. Their decision to do so can't have been on merit alone. So what's the difference.

    Anyone who thinks politics are EVER clean is deluding themselves.

    January 29, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. Tim

    NOW used to stand for something in this country. All this does is prove how ridiculous and laughable the organization has become.

    They endorse a candidate for no other reason that she's a woman, then dare to say a politician is playing the gender card because he doesn't agree with them?



    NOW...you're showing your true colors here...and they aren't red, white and blue.

    January 29, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Mike

    Leave it up to the NOW to turn this into a gender bashing fiasco. To insinuate that Senator Kennedy is supporting Obama because he doesn't want a woman president is not only irresponsible but inaccurate and obscene. The is akin to raising racist accusations for anyone objecting to Obama.
    The facts are simply that Hillary is not change. She is a huge reason the government doesn't work. She is part of the established status quo and there is no reason to think she would do anything different than what is going on now. She says whatever she has to to get votes whereas Obama is a breath of fresh air. He gives people hope and it is about time someone speaks out against the establishment.
    And I'm a Republican.
    I don't want to see Obama as president but it's only because I disagree with some of his stances on moral issues. But I do think there is no comparison between him and Clinton. Supporting Obama is not a detraction from supporting women's rights so get off your gender bias high horse NOW and start realizing that the issues are what's important here and not simply electing a woman at all costs because she's a woman.

    January 29, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. Patrick

    CNN as a life time viewer, I am now announcing I am switching to ABC news because of your totally biased Pro-obama news coverage! You dont even have a ticker for Rezko being arrested and Obama keeping fundraising money from him! You are turning into a fox news version of Pro-Obama propaganda!

    January 29, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Debrah M Holmes

    What a truly asinine response. Shame on you!!!

    January 29, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  23. Marcy Heider

    When picking a person to be president of the United States – you look for the person who inspires, can unite, who is intelligent and competent. A person who you think has the best chance of being elected. That person to me – as a caucasian woman – is Obama.
    To vote for or endorse a woman just because of her gender is ridiculous. NOW's stance is as backwards as the "Good Old Boys Network" we have fought against all these years.

    January 29, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. Jo

    Hillary is the most qualified of the 2. Obama had his day, Let's get on with the issues

    January 29, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  25. MR

    Can it be that Kennedy simply perfers Obama over Clinton. Organizations like NOW do many good things, but when go after an individuals right to chose a candidate of their choice they look foolish.

    January 29, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
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