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. Sean

    What total and utter bull! The third-wave feminists who issued this statement need to re-evaluate their relationship with reality. There are lots of people who don't like the Clintons. I was not one of those people, until this campaign. Their racist comments, attempts at voter suppression in Nevada which I saw with my own eyes, the fact that Clinton campaign staffers were caught distributing the 'Barack Hussein Obama' emails along with her cowardly crony ex-Sen. Kerrey repeating the sentiment, all these things and more have confirmed to me that the Clintons are and have always been scoundrels. I am a loyal Democrat, but I will never vote for Clinton. Not now, and not in November. Full stop.

    January 29, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Ken

    Can these now women be so close-minded to suggest that there might be a better candidate out there than Hillary for a number of reasons. Give me a break and we should take this group seriously. Hillary Clinton (or should I say the Clinton's since they are running together as evidenced by Bill's use of the word "we") is the one legitmate candidate who will elevate the the level of discord in our government. I believe most Americans find that a problem. I am a lifelong Republican who will vote for Obama because he does have a vision. No other candiate has that power to reach across the aisle and get things done. Our NOW gang can continue to march lock-step into irrelevance.

    January 29, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. JB - California

    The news media have been biased against the Clintons since the 90's and many voters are buying into the news headlines without doing the research. When Hillary was blasted by Obama during the first debates and complained about "piling on", she was accused of trying to play the "victim" role. But when she returns fire on Obama, she gets accused of dirty politics and mud-slinging. Obama is running on the idea that he is somehow different from the typical Washington politician (even though he'll gratefully accept and get mileage out of the endorsements of those typical Washington politicians like Kennedy and Kerry). However, he is not as pure as he would like us to believe. No politician is. The news media has not gone into his past with the fine-tooth comb that has examined the Clintons. The media needs to be fair in their coverage and start REPORTING the news, not MAKING the news. When Bill Clinton made the remark about Jesse Jackson in South Carolina, the news media jumped all over him for bringing race into the elections. However, the media has done this themselves quite vigorously. In fact, when discussing the polling results in S. Carolina, the topic of "which race voted for which candidate" got lots of coverage. Bottom line, I agree with Gloria Steinem who endorses Hillary and would have liked to see Obama wait until 8 years from now to run Then he would have more experience and we could have had, between Hillary and himself, 16 years of good Democratic leadership.

    January 29, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. John Seattle, WA

    So tired of this kind of thinking. Some of us, including myself, don't like Hillary for reasons completely unrelated to her gender. These folks just can't conceive of such a person, which is sad.

    Can't I support the candidate whose policies, skills, judgment, and experience are most attractive to me without being called a racist of misogynist?

    This really is the kind of political bickering we have to move past–regardless of who you support.

    January 29, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. tracey

    It's always about Black Rights and racism...how about Woman's Rights...which should be equal if not greater.

    Go Hillary Go!

    If the Republicans get in they will tear Obama and his kumbia politics and rhetoric to shreads.

    Hillary is stronger and has more exerience.

    January 29, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Ed Dugan, Ocala, Florida

    Having lived in Arkansas with the Clintons I can tell you that they both are about a 1/4 inch deep when it comes to character. They will do or say anything to win. If NOW can't get beyond its gender blindness it simply establishes itself as another national organization with tunnel vision. Surprise, surprise.

    January 29, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. mary

    i am tired of all of this. i agree Hillary may not be perfict but Obama is not
    he stands up their pointing his finger and yelling. To compare Obama to
    eaither JFK or Martin Luter King is not right he could never walk in their shoes
    and the Kennedy should have never compared him to JFK. Kennedy endorsement I would not want it .How many reamber when Kennedy was in a accident and left a young lady to drown while he took off to save himself.
    He could of tried to save her but did not and jail time he did not get. I suggest
    you read about it . And about Obama and his dealings with Rezko who was
    indicted yesterday Obama said he onley did five hours of work for him give a
    break I would know who I was doing work for and he still has a 100,000
    dollars given by Rezko wife he has not returned and what about the house
    he bought from the slum loard the house was more then he paid for it . the next day Resko wife bought land next to him and sold part of it to him. Obama still calls
    him a friend. When asked about this they say no conment try and tell me they have nothing to hide. No one has every looked into his affairs like the Clintons
    if they did I am sure they would fine alot more their. Every one thinks he is a supper star thats what CNN calls him he is not he onley tells you what he
    wants you to hear. CHANGE George Bush was going CHANGE make us all
    come together YAH right we are worse off today. And as for Presadent Clinton
    the media twist everything around to make it worse then it was. When Obama
    says thing about them and calls them names the media dose not report that
    he is not perfect and as time gose on everyone will see what he is really like.
    When President Clinton took office he turn everything around those were good times for everyone and you know it. And what happened in the White House is their bussiness not any one eles he ran our countray like know has in a long time
    and I am greatfull for that I have never Voted for a President after JFK untill
    president Clinton came and I will probley not vote again if Obama is the one
    becouse I can see he will nver be a good presedent like you think he will be.
    please excuse the spelling I am not perfect eaither

    January 29, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Judy

    The Clinton's had my support for a very long time. But I have grown tired of their dirty tactics and can no longer support Hillary for President. It seems to me that women should be blamingSenator Clinton and the former president for their conduct during the campaign, rather than Senator Kennedy for endorsing Senator Obama. I want to be inspired by a candidate and president and not feel like divisive politics as usual is acceptable. It is time to leave the Clintons and Bushes to history.

    January 29, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Jim

    I'm a white male, and I've never voted Republican in a presidential election; I've voted either Democratic or Third Party. But if the general election were between Hillary Clinton and Condaleeza Rice, I'd vote for Rice without a moment's hesitation. She's got one thing a Clinton will never have; integrity.

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

    just because Mr. Kennedy supports Mr. Obama does not mean he don't support women's rights.

    I have been and continue to be a strong supporter of womens issues and I fully support Mr. Obama, I have been a Republician all my 75 years andt he is the best man for the job ahead.

    Mr. Obama will have as much knowledge about being a President as Bill Clinton had.

    January 29, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. Alice

    I agree with the local NOW chapter. Senator Kennedy should have given the voters a chance to decide. I remember how he sulked when he did not win the democratic primary against President Carter. His arrogance tilted the general election toward President Reagen . Senator Clinton is ahead in the polls because she is the best candidate. Unfortunately women have been discriminated against so much in this country that people accept it. If people think Senator Clinton is unladylike to fight back they can get over it . Times have changed. Does anyone think the Republicans will give Senator Obama a free ride. To Senator Clinton I say , You go girl!

    January 29, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. Nik, Houston, TX

    Watch the OBama campaign call NOW racist after this.

    January 29, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. darius

    I am upset by the response of these women. This is why i would hate to be in the position of men like Sen. Ted Kennedy. It is a win-loss situation to whomever they choose. To say that he leaned towards Sen. Obama because he is a man is whether numb. I don't see why these people can't see the candidates in our party as I see them. They all make a great case for the nominee for themselves. People like these women are , in my opinion, close-minded and there only interest is to put a women in the white house, not the best candidate. I understand that many may not view Obama as that man, but clearly I think when our country needs a great leader, we must broaden our minds and way of thinking.

    January 29, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. greg

    NOW is showing themselves to be hypocritical, as they want people to support Hilary because she is a woman, where all these years they have been fighting to achieve equality of women and an envirionment where women can succeed on their own merit. Hilary does not merit consideration, and nobody owes her anything.

    January 29, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. CRUZ



    January 29, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. john Aniemeke

    This is a keenly contested election process. Wisdom and sound judgement preceeds experience of any kind. Lets Vote Wisely!

    January 29, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. Fabian- NYC

    That we can disagree openly about our choices, make individual decisions about our hopes and futures . . . That is America! She's worth the fight and the dream !

    OBAMA "08 !

    January 29, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. rj

    What will NOW do when two or more women run for president? Will they endorse all of them? If they don't, does that mean they are opposed to women running for president? Or will they then have to endorse the one that they think will be best for the country? What a novel idea that would be. They have it easy now...just endorse the only woman running–it's a no brainer. That makes a lot of sense. About as much as voting for Hillary based on her vast experience as a first lady.

    January 29, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. Arica Underwood

    It just figures that the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women would object to Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama in such a vehement manner. Why would an organization who purports to fight for the right of women to have their own opinions, and the right of women to be respected because of those opinions respect the opinion of someone else? I suppose just as long as you agree with them all is well.

    January 29, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. An Independent Voter

    I feel that the Democrats best shot at taking the White House is an Edwards-Obama ticket. In that order. So does that make me anti-Black and anti-woman?

    (Before you answer, you should know I'm a Black female...)

    January 29, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  21. Sabrena

    NOW is an example of exactly why women were oppressed for so long. Men knew if they treated us as equals we to rule.

    January 29, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. bj ferguson

    well you finally woke up shame on you for all the years you supported the Kennedy group. As a 70 yr old women from the south i understood them years ago, also if you will look very closley at what is going on in our country you will see there are many groups trying to undermine the progress whomen have made in the past 50 years. No the establisment does not want women in power. Yes cultures that have moved into the US do not want women to have power or even rights of ANY kind. Read all the info on work, medical issues, child care attitude etc they do not reflect a respect or real concern for women. I am almost too old to make a difference but as a group who should be ever viligent and fair you can and should. Look deep into the culture evolving in this country and you will become wary. Good luck and keep trying

    January 29, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. Boxer3

    Doesn't a blast from an irrelevant extremest group like NOW drive more mainstream women to re-consider backing Hillary solely because she is a woman.

    January 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Jdd

    My comments will probably be blocked when I have anything to say about Hillary. Big Deal....about the Women's Group slamming Kennedy. I guess the campaign will be based on gender at this time. Hillary is an insult to any women's group. Where's the woman power with her....she can't stand on her own feet, but surely riding on the coat-tails of her husband's political power.

    January 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. looking from the bahamas

    if hillary is so strong why wont she tell bill be quiet and le her campaign he is everywhere on every channel

    January 29, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84