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. Research1

    Please note that it is the New York chapter of the group who reportedly said these things.
    What it actually says on the NOW national website is that while NOW supports Clinton they have a great deal or respect for Kennedy and encourage women to continue to pursue their right to chose by VOTING.

    January 29, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. A. Harrison

    First Oprah, now Ted Kennedy. I'm losing my respect for people who knowingly are "against Hillary". I say this because there is no way they can prove to me that Anyone but Clinton can bring the country back to prosperity and real hope for change with Action.

    January 29, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. tanner, ca

    I will repeat a sentiment I read earlier. Hillary Clinton is the second most devisive person in this country right behind George Bush. After such a bitter divide in this country for the last 8 years, why on earth would we want to put the next most reviled person in the country in office?

    I understand that those who love Hillary do so with great zeal and energy. But those who don't will never even consider voting for her. To the NY NOW, this has nothing to do with gender but rather character and the promise of better days to come. With Hillary as president better days will not come, it will be 4-8 more years of the same anger that we have now.

    January 29, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. David, Dallas Tx

    Sorry, National Organization for Women, but some of us think qualifications are more important than genitalia when picking the next president. 😉

    January 29, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. Erica, Atlanta

    Can anyone tell me how Hilary is so much more experience than Barack? She was the 1st Lady. Not the president. What experience is does she keep referring to. People are acting like Barack just graduated from college and decided to run for President. She was a lawyer whose husband was elected president. What else???????

    January 29, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. KD

    We should not have a female president simply for the fact that she is a woman just like we should not have a black president just for the fact that he or she is black. It boils down to the fact that Hillary is off-putting, arrogant, and divisive whereas Obama is inspirational and a has potential to unite. I agree with Hillary on many of her political beliefs but if she were a white or black man with the same air of superiority, I would be equally opposed to her election. Kennedy proved himself by NOT endorsing Clinton despite their long-time friendship because he knows that she is not now and would not be the best leader to ressurect this dying country.

    January 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Laura

    Dear National Organization for Women,

    Ever considered the notion that people are supporting Obama because they actually like him and NOT just because Clinton's a woman? Please stop pulling the "girl card." It doesn't lend your candidate credibility to whine that people won't vote for her because what's between her legs. *Most* people vote on their beliefs and not on the gender of the candidate. I am a woman and a registered democrat; however, you must provide me a far more compelling argument than, "She's a woman" for Senator Clinton to get my vote.


    January 29, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Not now NOW

    What about those Black Leaders including Andrew Young and John Lewis who have endorsed Hillary. This election is not about any two groups but the past and the future

    January 29, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  9. markus

    I guess men aren't entitled to our own opinion if it doesnt coincide with Now's opinions. I thought freedom of expression was a foundation of Now. Just vote for person. Get off the soap box. He endorced the best candidate who can cross party lines to get issuses addressed. Oh yeah, Bill clinton had a hand in the decision as well with his vulgor politics. Go Barack!

    January 29, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. Matty D

    This is just a dumb statement to make, and it shows that NOW doesn't care about the politics, all they care about is the gender of the candidate. Did they ever stop to think that Senator Obama's opinions and views may appeal more to Senator Kennedy? Just an idiot reverse gender discrimination group that would support any woman competing against a man, even if said woman was intent on detonating a nuclear bomb in times square. They stink.

    January 29, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. James Bligen

    I'm sorry, but isn't a woman still running for president? I'm not sure what this groups agenda is, to see a woman in the presidency at any cost? Regardless if she is ready to be president or not, regardless if she can carry out what is needed at this time? I'm not saying that Hillary isn't ready, but it seems to me that there is only one way this group wants this to go is for a woman to be president. Do they care whether she can actually help the american people? Aren't we all free Americans, free to choose who we want to endorse?

    I think today we have seen the real agenda of this woman's group. We don't care who is president as long as it's a woman.

    P.S. Let me say that I believe that a woman can be president and do an excellent job. Unfortunately that woman will not be Hillary Clinton. Maybe next time.

    January 29, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. ATLfemale

    I DO NOT appreciate NOW's use of the collective "we" in its statement. Just because I'm a female doesn't mean I lack the brains to vote for the Presidential Candidate that I believe is best to run the country. I had no idea that I abdicated my right to speak or think for myself to NOW because I was born a female. It's no wonder there is such a negative connotation to the term "feminist" if it continues to be connected to ignorant statements like these.

    January 29, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  13. Wilhemina

    Here we go with the "women's group", do they know that most women do not like them. There organization is the same as the men's "good ole bwoy" system, either you are or must become what they (women's group) dictate, or you are there enemy.

    Women who what to stay home raise their children, keep their husbands are not accepted in these women's groups. Having to chop my hair off, where business suits, polos, and loafers, always in pants, no make-up is not my CHOICE style,nor is it empowering to look like a little-dude.

    Where are they with women incarceration increasing, women on drugs, (look at Britany). Today's "Women's Groups" are phonies, out of touch, pompous, self absorbed , lack altruistism.

    January 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Dan - Austin,TX

    your wrong , if Obama was a woman speaking about hope and change , we'd all be laughing. Get over yourselves it is a very sexist/race thing going on.

    January 29, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Nan

    I have to wonder at Kennedy's wording. He seemed to mock Hillary. As far as the general election is concerned, I prefer Edwards, have no problem voting for Hillary, and will vote for Obama only to prevent the Republicans from getting back into the White House. They've done enough damage in the past (nearly) 8 years they've had control of this country. God help us if they continue their reign!

    January 29, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. AJ, IL

    NY-NOW should demand that the National Chapter of NOW follow suit. Condemn Ted Kennedy for endorsing a candidate he believes in! Down with Men! Viva la Hillary! Give rise to the "Amazon Women Nation"!

    This allegation against Ted is just so funny.

    Obama in '08!

    January 29, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Tina, Arizona

    I am a feminist and I am supporting Obama. AND I don't feel I am betraying my feminist stance. Hillary is not electable for a number of good reasons...She's too divisive and those that hate her, really, really hate her. They will do anything to oppose her. She's a policy wonk who fails to inspire. Now Bill was a policy wonk too BUT he could inspire....he is one of the best speakers we've ever had as a president...ranking right up there with Lincoln, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. But Hillary, just doesn't have it. Also, she's as stiff as Al Gore...don't let the tears in New Hampshire fool you. No one, and I mean no one, knows the true Hillary. She's got skin as thicker than an Elephan hide. Not that that is a bad thing...being woman of her generation to have reached the level of power that she has, she probably has to had to have that thick skin. Otherwise she would have given up a long time ago. Unfortunately, that stiffness, that cynicism, that barely contained sarcasm that you can see simmering beneath surface is her undoing. I think this is what we all see in her that we don't see in Obama. He is fresh, new, and in a way naive in a hopeful way that we can grab on to. He inspires us and he's smart enough and humble enough to admit when the opposition has a good idea. And that is why I'm voting for Obama in 2008.

    January 29, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. K

    Last time i checked, It's a man's world and will be until the end of days! I'm not against a woman president, just not Hillary Clinton.

    January 29, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Angie

    As a woman, I am not appalled with Senator Kennedy, but with the National Organization of Women.

    Do we truly believe that just becase Clinton is female that all women should select her as a candidate? Because Obama is a male, we should be against him? Stop the insanity!!

    As a woman who tried to live a good life where I make a difference in the world and to the people around me, I believe Obama is the better candidate for me, the human being and the woman! I resent NOW acting as if Kennedy betrayed women in general with his vote.

    Maybe if Hillary was a different sort of woman, more people would endorse her?

    January 29, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Max

    This was the state chapter of NOW, not the national chapter. Steve, thanks for your sexist use of "bimbos" to describe the women who champion gender equality–good one, really. Not proving their point at all. As for Kennedy endorsing Obama: Kerry already did so. Both senators from MA are endorsing Obama, get a clue, folks.

    Obama = Faith-based Initiative.

    January 29, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  21. Susan, NH

    After a campaign speech, Obama went off the stage and eagerly shook hands with his supporters. In the front, there stood patiently a 10-year old boy. He politely asked Obama if he could ask him 2 questions. Obama kept shaking hands with his supporters and without even looking at the little boy and plainly said that he didn't have time for 2 questions. So the little boy resolved by saying how about just one question. Then Obama agreed coldly. Guess what? The little kid is a reporter from the Scholastic News for Kids.
    The same kid went to McCain for an interview. McCain's gave the kid a warm welcome and even joked with him in a very friendly manner.
    The above scenes were caught on TV camera. Voters and medias are so caught up with issues that are important to them or just put their focus on race and genders. What about the true characters of the candiates who will one day become the next president of the United States.

    January 29, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. norb

    I'm surprised that a lot of people think Barack a one time Senator has so much exerience? Didn't the Repulican party bring in Alan Keys into Illinois for six months to establish residency so they could at least have some token opposition against Barack. That was no opposition as far as I'm concerned. Like em or not, when the Clinton's were in office we had a balance budget with a surplus. We didn't have a recession. We didn't dole out money to keep the economy afloat. We didn't have a war. The chalenges we have now and in the near future demand someone with exerience, someone who has been in the trenches. Peace brother and far out man, ain't gonna cut it.

    January 29, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. RD

    Only a sexist or racist votes for a candidate because of gender or race – that's true for any party. A vote should be entirely based upon leadership, honesty, capability, intelligence, and communication skills.

    January 29, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Nan

    BTW – my feelings about Obama are because of the arrogance of his inexperience. He seems to be trying to be all things to all people. And it's not possible. I wish people would stop putting him up on a pedestal! He's not perfect! He has feet of clay. God help us if we have to find out the hard way!

    January 29, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. JB Hull, IA

    wow. This is retarded. Kennedy is not a sexist becuase he didn't back your favorite candidate... you don't hear obama supporters calling black leaders who support hillary "traitors"... NOW is behaving really poorly

    January 29, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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