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. Susan

    Hillary Clinton is a a co-dependent, weak and hang'in on her man at all costs type of woman. Not the typical NOW prototype. If she has found her voice as she stated after New Hampshire..why does she still need Bill to speak for her?

    To the NOW organization..you need some chocolate and a Prozac. You have give a whole new meaning to the phrase "dumb blonde."

    January 29, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. carolyn connor


    I as a honduran I wish that all you americans somenday will learn to love each other so that maybe some day you could learn to like other people in the world
    it is so depresing to read all your coments you all should learn to get along with one another and stop the hate.

    January 29, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. neutralobserver

    Is Caroline a traitor too?

    January 29, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Oscar, Rio Vista, CA

    Mary Mary quite contrary. Please check your spelling and grammar before submitting such a long windful of nonsense. If you are submitting your opinion don't copy words you have heard on the TV and radio. Please form your own opinion based on what you actually know is the truth. Also, before ranting on about that devil Resko, please look at the photo of him seated between the Clintons. What should I make of that??? Also, I think you mean Bill Clinton when you talk about someone pointing their finger and yelling. I don't think I have ever heard Barack yelling. So please, once again stick to the facts.

    January 29, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. Becky

    The NOW does more harm than good for women. I am a woman and have worked hard my whole life. I have raised 2 independent strong daughters and a son who believes in womens rights, but Hillary is not and never will be a good choice for president and it has NOTHING to do with gender. If NOW keeps speaking out like this they will hurt their movement more then help. They will look like another RADICAL group.

    January 29, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  6. Mista Kennedy


    For many reasons... Barack is the underdog in this election. Hillary is the supposedly unbeatable Clinton. Barack just came off a landslide victory in SC... he's more news-worthy and what makes bigger, better headlines right now. Ted has historically been an enormous supporter of Hillary/Bill, so for him to throw his weight behind someone else is a relatively big deal. It shows that he believes Hillary is not electable (and he's right, she isn't). Those factors overshadow just about everything else. Had Hillary been endorsed by Ted they would've had to make it into a different story to make it news-worthy... "Will Ted help or hurt Hillary...?" etc, etc...

    January 29, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. I'm just saying

    Kathleen Sebelius, Democratic Governor of Kansas,
    After watching your response last night to the State of the Union, we were thrilled and we starting to think you would be an excellent Woman President.

    You just endorsed Barack Obama. We take it back. You are a traitor and are yet another woman who is not a real woman. You are just trying to keep women down and are a traitor.

    -Signed, NOW-NY and the Women who Blindly Trudge After Senator Clinton because that's what real women are supposed to do

    January 29, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. tom

    I have written several notes to this comment regarding the hypocrisy and amateurishness shown by NOW in this press release, and they each keep getting removed, yet I see some of the ridiculous diatribes and non sequiturs, not to mention horrific grammar, spelling, and hyperbole that makes the list. Can someone post a note explaining why my opinion is being censored? Does the moderator of this posting work for NOW New York?

    January 29, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. JarryHames

    This kind of crazy behavior may lead to the Dems not getting into the White House. I've never seen a party filled with more cry babies and "me" screamers. The Republicans will always be a more unified party. Dems need to get over the small stuff and keep their eyes on the White House '08. This is nothing and it sure isn't a male vs. female thing. Mr. Kennedy can support any DEMOCRAT! Let's get over ourselves and turn this country around in a positive direction.

    OBAMA '08!

    January 29, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Teresa

    I'm so tired of women turning this into a gender issue. Kennedy clearly stated his reason for supporting Obama, its really to provide a respected counterpart to Bill Clinton who has been saying all kinds of lies about Obama. Hilary has seriously damaged the Democratic Party and instigated Obama into attacking her. This is a BAD strategy for the PARTY, and for our COUNTRY. I admire Kennedy for stepping up and making his position clear, he is not just clearning the record for Obama, he is also trying to set a stage for the Democratic party to be civil, or more specifically Clinton.

    STOP making this into a GENDER ISSUE, I am not going to vote for a woman simply because I AM a woman. I UNDERSTAND THE OLD WHITE MEN issue we face, but lets be clear on what the issues are, and ADMIT that Clinton has been using OLD WHITE MEN TACTICS!! ..... and dont' use words like "ABANDON US" yall sound like weak, whinning women. Hilary should learn from the German Chancelor.

    January 29, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  11. Joe, Wilmington DE

    Would Sen. Kennedy be considered a racist if he supported Hillary instead?

    January 29, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. wayne

    Please note that Kennedy said he’d vigorously support the Democratic nominee. He simply feels Obama is the best candidate at this time. Why is judged to be a betrayal?

    January 29, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. Charlie

    Good gawd!! I am a strong supporter of women's rights, freedom of choice, affirmative action, and all the rest. And I am SO glad that I did not renew my NOW membership several years ago. They marginalized themselves long ago. And presidential politics? NOW endorsed Carol Moseley Braun for president in the 2004 election - a person whose principal qualification for the job was that she was a woman (which was apparently enough for NOW) and who was defeated for re-election to the Senate from Illinois after one undistinguished term.

    January 29, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Barbara Bates

    After last nights State of the Union message Senator Clinton was gracious enough to extend her hand to shake the hand of Ted Kennedy. He was facing her and completely ignored her. This was rude. No excuse can be given for this unforgivable act. Because of your actions Mr. Kennedy I have changed my mind and will not for Mr Obama. If he is nominated to run for the President I will not vote for him.

    I am also going to e-mail all my friends and family if they were going for Senator Obama to try to change their minds.

    January 29, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. DinahS

    People stop trying to take Obama's shine. He's the best candidate. PERIOD. And Tracey, "It's always about Black Rights and racism…how about Woman's Rights…which should be equal if not greater."...you can't be serious?! You must be a white woman, because that comment is absolutely absurd to say the least. And NOW is obviously promoting the type of thing we know longer need in this country–lobbying interest groups trying to whine and cry when things don't go their way.

    I am a BLACK WOMAN. And my decision is being made based on the platforms of these candidates. As well as the character exhibited throughout this race (which Hillary Clinton certainly seems to lack.) Seeing a woman as president would be empowering, but not that Clinton woman.

    But can someone please tell me what is all this "experience" that Hillary Clinton has. I mean, think about it. 35 years huh?! If that's the case she was only 25 years old when she started affecting all of this change. So what was she doing? Please someone tell me. I'm intrigued.

    Nonetheless, Obama is the candidate of CHANGE! And if you need to know what his positions are and his agenda is, please visit my.barackobama.com.

    BARACK the Vote! 2008

    January 29, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. Joanne

    Just I have discussed with my husband, my take is that we may be ready for a african-american man president, but I think that even older democrats men would never be ready for a woman to lead. Imagine that, a woman being the boss. The Kennedy's, by choosing Obama, confirmed just that for me.

    January 29, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. L.T.

    You have to be joking. The "ultimate betrayal"....that is ridiculous. That is like saying people should vote on the person who only looks good but has no intelligence to back up actions. The women's group comment was completely uncalled for; it is about what is best for the United States.

    January 29, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. Kris


    January 29, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. Karen, Des Moines

    NOW is so YESTERDAY! We will elect a woman President when we have a candidate who runs on her own record and her own credentials, and does her own attacking. "Don't cry for me, South Carolina" will never play in the States.

    January 29, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  20. Greg

    Sounds like women voting for Hilary because she's a woman. Gimme a break.

    January 29, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  21. Poli

    News flash!

    The Kennedy's have betrayed women since the 60's. NOW just realized that NOW? 🙂

    Me thinks the old ladies running NOW are starting to go senile too!? 🙂

    January 29, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. smm

    NOW has joined the list of progressive white people who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a black president who is Barack Obama.


    January 29, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. sm

    The person who wrote this news release should have deleted before sending.

    January 29, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |

    Sen. T. Kennedy has the right to endorse whoever he wants to endorse. Why is it NOW has to read something sinicle in his endoresment. Why can't the Sen. endorsement be from his heart and the best person (in his opinion) for the job. NOW should get a life and stop thinking an endorsement for Clinton means a rejection of women rights to the White House. I'm a women and I agree with Sen. Kennedy. Sen. Obama is the best person for the job. We had a Clinton and I really think one is enough. If you really want to get technical Sen. Clinton put women back in the dark ages with her response to the way her husband acted in the White House, so even though she is a woman, mabe just mabe women don't like her for not standing up like a real woman to her husband, remember there are some lines you just don't cross being married, especially the President of the United States and get caught. Pres. Clinton made his wife the laughing stock of all real women. Shame on you NOW!

    January 29, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. Mitt Romney

    Keep fracturing your party straight down the middle folks.

    This is going to be a Republican landslide. You cant even control your own party.

    This NOW group already endorsed Clinton a long time ago. What did you expect?

    A dozen roses for Kennedy choosing an inexperienced male over an experienced woman who Kennedy has known for decades? No wonder they are pissed off.

    Im lovin it.

    Vote Romney

    Romney 08

    January 29, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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