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. km

    The oppression of women and minorities is 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 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. rao

    We don't need an Oprah or Kennedy to try to convince us that Obama is the answere to our politcal dreams. I am a minority. I find it very insulting that Kennedy thinks his blessings on Obama will convince me to vote for somebosy who, so far, has talked big. Let the primaries play out and let us decide.
    Also, the sight of Obsama sitting like a tame puppy next to Kennedy during the president's State of the Union address was unpresidential. Obsama looked like a drooling sycophant trying to cash in on the fading Kennedy mantle that has been placed on him by the ice princess Caroline. Frankly, any endoresement from her, or any celebrity is a put off. Lastly, Obsama's flip-flopping on issuing driving licenes to illegal immigrants is a last-minute ditch effort to attarct minority votes. He is just another slick politician. He calls for change. He is living it with his changinging positions. Keep it up, Obsama, time will show your tru colors, hopefully before the Democratic nomination. I am a Democrat. But if you are the nominee, I will definitely vote for MCain or any Republican or Independent.

    January 29, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. James

    Has anyone who is posting on here has really looked at the agendas these candidates have put out there, because I sure havent seen anything from Obama, yes, nice speeches are great and change,change and change but when the speech is over what is he really offering us, hope is not a speech, please, you people need to wake up or we will get stuck with another republican in the white house, Obama is not ready to lead Hillary is

    January 29, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Jean ,NY, NY

    This is what is wrong with some, and I use the term some, women and women's organizations today – this election should be based on who each individual thinks is the best CANDIDATE not whether she/he is a man or a woman. This statement by NOW suggests Kennedy should have backed Clinton simply because she is a woman and since some women (I am not one of them) have been so supportive and forgiving of him in the past he "owes" it to the women to endorse the woman – this is ludicrous and makes NOW sound ridiculous and petty. Furthermore, as a woman and as an American, I am embarrased by Hillary Clinton and her husband, she will not make the best candidtae for Presaident and I won't say she will just because she is a woman. I have rarely if ever agreed with Senator Ted Kennedy but today I do – he picked the best candidtae to endorse for President – he did not pick the man or the woman – he picked the candidate.

    January 29, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. Susan

    I can't believe Kennedy made his decision to endorse Obama only after his unsuccessful attempt to tell Bill Clinton to stop talking. Becacuse Bill Clinton did not listen to him, then he went ahead to support Obama. Think about it, is Kennedy's endorsement based on his anger or does he really believe Obama is the right candidate?

    January 29, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  6. Judy Penn

    I thought Senator Obama campaign slogan to be "out with the old Washington, in with the new." Why then does he accept a endorsement from the oldest Senator? Kennedy is the old way of doing things as far as I can tell so what's the big deal? Ted Kennedy is no John or Robert Kennedy by a mile. John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy gave their lives for what the believed but "Ted" will always be remembered for taking a life.... So why does the media always walk lightly when it come to Obama?? He should be treated like any other politican. He should be slammed like everyone else. I wish the news would stop promoting him..

    January 29, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. Robert

    So when someone doesn't support Hillary, it has to be becuase she's a woman? Does NOW-NY think that we are all morons? This stance has become typical of the Clinton campain and her constituents, thus further proving the point that she is a "divider" and not a "uniter".
    Did NOW-NY think that they could simply disregard everthing that Clinton and company has done and expect us to just fall for the latest gender/race spin? I guess the new strategy is to make Obama look like Jesse Jackson and to make all men misogynist.

    January 29, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. Andy Mattson

    Wow, the only words that come to mind are "Grow the hell up."

    Is Obama somehow anti-woman? Do people only support him if they hate women or can't stand the idea of a woman in charge? Completely juvenile and condescending. This kind of rhetoric, no matter where it comes from in the political spectrum lowers the level of discourse, and only leaves us all that much dumber for having to read or listen to it.

    Good for NOW's national organization for distancing themselves from the third-grade comments of the New York chapter. Anyone can see those comments as motivated by the basest of politics, and having nothing to do with the laudable goals that NOW espouses.

    January 29, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. George Wu, A.I.A.

    You have got a very good point BH.(9:24am)

    January 29, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Shania

    As a woman I am appauled. "We don't like you anymore because you are backing the man instead of the woman"...are these women SERIOUS? How about voting for the candidate because you agree with their standing on the real issues. NOW is just showing the world that they are voting for Hillary simply because she is a woman, no matter that her husband is actually the one pulling the strings and she really has no backbone. Hillary Clinton is not ready to be our president. She is a woman, ok, thats fine and dandy but she is not the candidate for this job. I'm for OBAMA all day long. He has the vision and the most potential to really turn this country around.

    January 29, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Farju

    Go OBAMA GO, Your country needs you to reconcile it with the world.

    January 29, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. slash

    I'm glad that one organization had the courage to say it!!! I'll even go one further and say that Oprah sold out women too. She's only gotten as far as she has because she was a voice for women. I'm not saying that she shouldn't have her personal view point, but her coming out and supporting a junior senator over someone who is held in high regard throughout the world, has a wealth of experience, AND is a woman, just flies in the face of what she's always seemed to stand for. Anyway, I'm voting for Hillary and if she doesn't win the nomination, I'll vote for Barack because we need to change the Republican course of action. But, it's time for a strong, intelligent, and hardworking woman to show the world that men don't corner the market in those areas.

    January 29, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. Phil of Colorado

    I find it amazing that a Democratic Senator is chastized by Democratic women for supporting a Democratic Black. So much for supporting integrity over sexism.

    January 29, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |

    Not all Kennedys like Obama and back him. Other Kennedys don't. Obama will be waking up from his I have a dream sleep pretty soon. He is no way a John Kennedy. More like Hussain..... Clinton in 08

    January 29, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. Cindy, Manhattan

    What a bunch of circus clowns. How can they expect to be taken seriously when they're essentially saying that Carolyn is not a real woman because she doesn't think as they do.

    Next, they're going to be mailing out those deceptive mailers that Clinton used in New Hampshire claiming that Barack was against reproductive rights because of the "present" votes that PLANNED PARENTHOOD in Illinois had asked him to do.

    January 29, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. TL, Phila, PA

    What worries me about Obama is his lack of experience. And why that worries me is because I wonder who is going to be in his ear if he is elected president. When issues come up that he is unfamilar with, who will he turn to for direction? I guess the same thing can be said for Clinton. I am really not one to stand to much on who "endorses" a candidate, because people will endorse anyone that they can get a favor out of later. It's possible Kennedy endorsed Obama instead of Clinton because he figures Obama would be easier to steer if he was in Office.

    January 29, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Paul A.

    Obama is weak on issues. He has no plans. He talks change but he does not know what he wants to change.

    January 29, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  18. CANDY

    I agreed with AC. Senator Kennedy is endorsing someone who he think will lead the country to victory, not someone who has an ego because her husband was President and want to get in the White House again. Give us a break Hiliary, tell the your women group who support you, to stop acting little whinning kids who didn't get their candy and understand that you are pulling every dirty trick in the book to get what you want. If everything you do is all about Hiliary then the country is in a bad state. Remember how Bush's brother fix the ticket so he could win? Was Hiliary glad or was she sad. So Hiliary play fair and maybe everyone would judge you different. When a policy is written, pasted and voted No, then NO means NO and you should not try to presuade lawmaker to break that policy. You are telling the American people that if it AIN'T ABOUT HILIARY THEN NOTHING WILL BE DONE. HILIARY WRONG ANSWER AND GROW UP. This election is about the most grown up candiate and you seen to be a whimp. Take it for what it is worth, CHANGE, CHANGE, CHANGE,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    January 29, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. Dave C - NJ

    CNN posted a survey that asked if endorsements affect you. 90% of the answers were NO, so to those stating that we shouldn't listen to endorsements, you are preaching to the choir. But endorsments are photo-opps, good campaign strategy, and create airtime for candidates.

    January 29, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. Susan

    So many people think that Obama has vision. If he has vision, please tell me what he has done so far to prove that he has vision? Like Steve Job of Apple, he's vision because he created the Apple computer, IPOD, IPHONE... Bill Gate have proven himself by building a giant company named Microsoft. If I go around and tell people I have hope and I want to unify the country.. are you going to vote for me?

    January 29, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. nycvoter

    No the issue is that one candidate clearly has experience necessary to run the country and one doesn't and the fact that he made this endorsement shows him for the buffoon that he is. Just wait until McCain is put up against Obama, let's see what it means when a man like McCain says Obama doesn't have experience, then it will matter but by then it will be too late!

    January 29, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. Tigga

    I urge you all to contact national NOW about this. I spoke with a representative from NOW last night and she was absolutely wonderful about the whole mess. Trust me, this is a huge black eye for the national organization and they are appalled by it. The NY NOW person Marcia Pappas is way out in left field. There is an earlier press release by her talking about Hillary Clinton being "gang-raped" by the other candidates. It would be great to get NOW to publicly disavow the Clinton lies on Barack's record on women's reproductive rights and even better if they would withdraw their endorsement, but let's not tar the whole organization with the actions of one disturbed person.

    January 29, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  23. Chris

    Robert F. Kennedy Junior and his sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend are backing Hillary. Their endorsement means more to me than Teddy's, his son's, and Caroline (Do you know who I am?) Kennedy. I'm with them.

    January 29, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  24. Edward

    I am a Republican who has no problem with a black or woman as President. However, I do have a problem with Hillary Clinton and I do have a problem with NOW. But that doesn't make me sexist. Go Obama!! – Lest I be called a Racist by the other half of this all-star party.

    January 29, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  25. Christina Z

    I understand that Ted Kennedy has the right to support whichever candidate he prefers. I think that NOW NY took it a little over the edge with the letter – they come off sounding like rabid feminists instead of clear headed women – that's a shame, because of course people jump all over it & it ends up reflecting badly on the only female candidate.

    I STILL voting for Hillary.

    January 29, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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