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. Hope

    Kennedy made a serious mistake. His endorsement may or may not matter to some people, particularly younger voters. However, he has been led down the primrose path with all the other sheep bleating "Chaaaange...Chaaaange". Yes, we need change, but we need someone who is QUALIFIED to deliver it. We need concrete reasons to endorse a candidate, not the vague comparisons to JFK. JFK was Time Magazine and Obama is People Magazine. No comparison.

    January 29, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Eileen, Philadelphia Pennsylvania

    To me it's Democrats as usual. Hilary Clinton is leading in all the national polls, so what do Kerry, Kennedy, Richardson, etc do? They endorse the other guy. If Obama has to run agaisnt McCain or Roomney who would win? I think if it's McCain, Obama would lose. Why are so many estblishment Democrats not endorsing the person who is leading in the national polls? I like HiIlary's policy stands, the fact she would be the first woman president is – lets face it, kind of cool. The Democratic party leaders need to get on board.

    January 29, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  3. looking from the bahamas

    No i dont have a vote but as an observer NOW that is really low...Voting should be about choice...There is voting in your chapters for president and the election for president process is the same thing its about the Kennedy's choice. Dont take anyones choice away... An endorsement is almost like a vote and no one has the right to downgrade my or anyones choice.

    good luck usa/obama

    January 29, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. xavier


    January 29, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. Mcpoke

    What a shame NOW has opened up and accused Sen. Kennedy of
    being sexist. Whether or not he is, the point is not to vote for a Hillary
    because she is a woman or Barack because he is black, but to vote
    for the right person for the job. To suggest one should vote for
    Hillary because she is a woman seems rather ignorant of democracy
    and in itself, sexist – choose the woman over the man because she is
    a woman. It is like picking a football team to win because of the color of the uniform or the logo carries your favorite color – don't pick the team in orange to win
    because your favorite color and loylaty is to blue.
    If I could do so, I would like to ask the ladies of NOW why,
    if Hillary is a strong and impressive woman, why does Hillary need her
    husband to fight all of her battles for her? Wouldn't this work better for
    Hillary is Bill stayed home and stayed out of the picture?
    The NOW needs to rise above this petty talk from the 1950's and join the rest of
    us in 2008.

    January 29, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. teresa

    What really gets me is... if Kennedy's supported clinton, the media would probally not cover it as much. it would be no big deal, why is it a big deal because the "Kennedy's" supported Obama? the media picks and choose what they think is important.....also the media has and would have ripped ted kennedy apart and bring up all "HIS" previous problems if he was supporting hillary clinton.
    its like all of a sudden ted kennecy is god....help me understand that??????

    January 29, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  7. Roger

    Nice to see that the Hillaryjugend who run this site can't stand to hear the truth about her push for war against Iran, so they have to censor comments..

    January 29, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. Stephan

    Whiny, whiny NOW who can't see beyond their narrow focus. Kennedy backed the better, more progressive and future oriented candidate, duh. Just because Hillary can fight and throw dirt like a man, doesn't qualify her to be president, to the contrary. We're done with dirty, old-style politics.

    January 29, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. Dave

    NOW is becoming irrelevant. You want Ted to stand by you. Why? Because you stood by him. That is trading political favors based on the 'you owe me' principle of a compromised electorate. Just like any other special interest group.

    What this country needs today is a president that can paint a vision of a brighter future for our great nation, understands the mechanics of how to get it done, has the wisdom to pick expert advisors, and has the character to inspire us to make sacrifices that will lead to this future state. No candidated excells in all areas. Ignore all the endorsements and make up your own mind.

    January 29, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  10. Shannon Hardington

    Just as Obama's campaign should not be about race, Hillary's campaign should not be about gender. To each of their credit, they are running a campaign based on the belief that each feels that he or she is the best candidate. It belittles the achievements and the record of Hillary Clinton for NOW to criticize anyone for not choosing Hillary because of her gender. Get over yourself, NOW, and help our country to move beyond color and gender. Quit criticizing an endorsement simply because it didn't go your way. I think that is exactly why Kennedy DID choose Obama - he believes he is a transformational leader who can break these old barriers with which our country has struggled.

    January 29, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. norma

    I guess with the exerpt just stated about the seating and actions of Obama and Clinton at the State of the Union address; there it is in print – but anyone not having access to the Internet might not know of this. It seems that again, inexperience played a role – Obama didn't know how to be civil, but had to turn his head backwards to avoid looking at his contender. Is this what you do when you are aspiring to deal with leaders of the world? He's a big man with a big voice,
    when he can smile at all the pretty young ladies in the crowd, but in a situation among your peers – he wimped out.

    Hilary on the other hand has the savvy to go about business like she has always done as a part of the Senate ignoring the fact that Obama and Ted Kennedy are now brothers. Even under scrutinization – she knows how to present herself.

    Obama and Camelot!! Not on my watch. Like Bush, the Kennedy's have been able to sweep their scandalous doings under the rug – because of their wealth.
    The press was as loyal to John Kennedy as the press has been to George Bush –
    in that the scandals of womanizing going on in the White House with John and Marilyn Monroe and other movie stars were all hushed up, and even after the accusations of Robert and Peter Lawford being involved in her death – all this was laid to rest and forgotton.

    Hilary is being taunted and demeaned because of her husband's infidelity – and if family values are suppose to be the big "moral' priority – why not give her credit for not "cutting and running' from her husband in his time of infidelity but in keeping her family together and pursuing her aspirations and goals. She wasn't raised with a silver spoon in her mouth like the Kennedy's and Kerry's. The Pundants and media use the one thing Bill Clinton did during his presidency. They lie about all the good things he stood for and how this country revered him, even leaders all over the world who scoffed at the idea that an extramarital affair was even discussed – if i recall – many of them admitted that they themselves had mistresses. i don't condone this, for anyone, but, which "one" mishap will George Bush be remembered for? His boozing, his drugs, his lies, his tearing the country apart, his corruption, his war......................and the list goes on. Which "one" will you pick?? That he was a guy you could sit down and have a beer with?

    Bottom line – acting like you're at a sporting event whenever you speak, or having to scream over a microphone – is this what we want to have to watch on the tv every day? Keep cool Hilary – consistency will prevail.

    January 29, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  12. KAS

    I think the only ones who let America down are the Clintons themselves. They are the symbol of lies and deceit and I applaud Senator Kennedy for seeing past the distortion.

    January 29, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  13. Harry Minneapolis, MN

    You are amazing Edward Kennedy. Must be looking for a cabinet position . Tell the whole country whats REALLY behind your agenda of this "nomination". Talk about dividing the country. Maybe all these years you should of been cleaning up YOUR house before making suggestions for the WHITE HOUSE.

    January 29, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. Please

    It's not about all women, it's about that woman.

    You can dislike snickerdoodles without disrespecting cookies in general. You don't have to eat brusselsprouts to like vegetables. But, hey, let's not let a good prejudicial rant get in the way of facts.

    January 29, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. Greg D

    Interesting. This chapter of NOW suggests that only Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president and they imply to think otherwise makes you a misogynist. So using this logic does that mean NOW's decision not to endorse Obama makes them racist? Or perhaps do they simply believe that she is the better candidate? I hope it is the latter and will give them the benefit of the doubt. They should pay the same courtesy to other Americans exercising their right to consider and choose without coercion.

    January 29, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. jay

    Amazing how little their brains are, he betrayed women because he preferred Obama over Clinton! I guess Iowa and S.C. betrayed women as well. Idiots like them shouldn't have the right to vote, this is a major democracy downfall – giving idiots and experts same vote values. This is why America's laws are messed up; just gather some idiots to vote for a bad principle and it becomes an american law!

    January 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  17. Obamamania

    Just a guess here - but I'll bet Hillary is affiliated with this NY NOW group. In which case, this slam is no surprise. You see, it's the old "you're either for us or against us" politics that Obama (and others such as Ted Kennedy) want to move away from.

    pragmatist (Clintons) = "if it works then it's right."
    idealist (Obama) = "if it's right then it works."

    January 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  18. Susan

    Just ask any big corporations in America, will any of them hire any junior perosn with just a few years of experience to be the CEO of the company. Do you think running the country is easier than running a company?

    January 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  19. Marry Anderson

    Tell Kennedy that we don't listen to him anyway. he should stop making comments, leave Hillary alone. Obama is just a good talker, but he doesn't know what he was talking about. He doesn't know what he is doing.

    January 29, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. John in Columbus, OH

    So, Caroline Kennedy and Claire McCaskill have abandoned women. Obama's support is HIGHEST among young educated women. Like all those Black preachers trying to sway their flocks to Clinton, NOW seems to be very much out of touch with it's own constituents.

    January 29, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. Annie O

    This is why I've never been a NOW supporter. Not every female candidate is worthy of support, and that is certainly the case with Hillary Clinton, ESPECIALLY if one is a progressive.

    January 29, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. Bob

    To Slash,
    Its people like you that shouldnt vote. To base your nominee strictly on gender or race is pathetic. I by know means like Teddy Kennedy or Oprah Winfrey but they obviously know who is qualified and who isnt. Hillary is a lying, manipulative, polarizing woman face it. So to call Oprah a sell out because she has better taste then you and thinks Obama is a better person so what. Its ideas like yours that make have turned this whole thing into a gender/reace card.

    January 29, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  23. George Wu, A.I.A.

    The more I have seen her, the more I said to myself " I dont want to see this woman in my life every day for the next four years ." IT IS MY RIGHT TO SAY WHAT I DO NOT LIKE. DON'T FORCE ME TO ENDURE WHAT I DON'T LIKE! THIS IS THE U.S.A.! LET ME SAY WHOM I LIKE AND WHOM I DON'T LIKE! LET ME VOTE FOR WHOM I WANT TO VOTE FOR!

    January 29, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Kiki

    I am so sick and tired of people saying Hillary deserves to be president. Please explain why she does? I am a woman, and I support Barack Obama. I don't feel that anyone "deserves" to be president just because they're a woman. I guess I'm old fashioned, I think you should "earn" the right to be president based on your own merit, not you husband's.

    January 29, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. PH

    Speaking of Chaveznization of this country: How about HC wanting to freeze interest rates for 5 years, Mandating gov. controlled health care, takeover all the financial providers like Fanny. The list is endless. she is no more than a Chavez in female clothing!! What is pathetic is the world does not see her true agenda!

    January 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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