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. observer

    As a woman, I am totally disappointed with Ted Kennedy. I think the thoughts of a woman as President is too much for him. He has always been "late" on womens issues and also on the FMLA. Strange he would give his support on the same day Rezko was arrested, aman Obama wants to distance himself from. Why has CNN not made any reports on the Obama/ Rezko news today?

    January 28, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  2. Alan

    Is NOW clueless that Blacks have it even harder than women is this country? Their claim has no merit and makes them look very bad. What a bunch of whiners!!

    January 28, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  3. Dimma

    This chapter has been paid by Se. Clinton camp. They need to take a break and relax.

    January 28, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. Carmen

    I think it is ridiculous to for NOW to bash Sen Kennedy for his decision to choose Obama over Hillary. It just goes to show that women's groups are sometimes too radical and have lost touch. I too want better opportunities for women, since I am one. But I also feel that women should not be too critical of men. Just because Hillary is a women does not necesarily mean that she would always support women's issues. Let's keep an open mind.

    January 28, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  5. Tory

    I would love to see a woman as president...just not this woman. To attack a politician for endorsing a male candidate is simply ridiculous.

    January 28, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  6. Eric

    Is NOW so blind as to believe that the only reason why someone wouldn't vote for Clinton is because of her gender? It is exactly this lack of reasoning ability (and rabid genderism) that plays a large part in perpetuating the inequality of the sexes. When you reduce an issue or a person down to just their gender you demean them, and prevent the progression towards equality in our society. Isn't this exactly what they're trying to fight? Good for National NOW to show some rason and tact and distance itself from the comments of this obviously blind state chapter.

    January 28, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  7. Ted Laskaris

    NOW failed women many years ago. They want to be the only party that arbitrates what is right and what is wrong for all women in terms of positions on issues. Hold the door for me and be a gentleman. Don't hold the door for me – I can open it myself!!!

    They are confused and they are victims of their myopic and narrow definition of what a woman should be and how she should think. Their influence is waning precisely because they can't embrace women in an open and objective way.

    This would be silly and tragic – this statement – if it weren't so handily recognized as simply not representing how the majority of women feel.

    NOW is not now anymore.

    January 28, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  8. Angel, Frankfort IL

    I am shocked that NOW would make such outrageous comments regarding anyone who makes a choice regarding who they support for the Presidental race. Ted Kennedy's choice doesn't mean he is AGAINST women, it means he SUPPORTS Senator Barack Obama!

    January 28, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  9. Ada

    A transformatonal leader has the following characteristics: charisma, inspirational, vision, stimulate, morality and so on. Please tell me which one of these represent Hillary. After Hillary made that slum lord statement, I vowed that I will never be a Democrat. The so-called woman who want to be president, displayed a very low life personality. She also insulted those poor people living in lower income houses. I would not want a leader with such nasty character to represent me.

    January 28, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  10. GB

    I am an over-50 white female, which is the profile of a Hillary Clinton supporter. However, I am an AVID supporter of Barack Obama. I also think it would be great to have a female President, but I certainly wouldn't use being a female as criteria to vote for someone!! That's absurd! You have to look at the issues, the values, the demeanor. Barack IS a uniter, and I think Hillary is as a much of a divider as our current President. I'll admit that I supported Bill Clinton in his presidential runs and voted for him twice in the national elections. However, with his behavior over the past couple of weeks, I have lost virtually all respect for both Clintons.

    January 28, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  11. Scott

    Umm. check out the sign in the background: "59, white, female proud 2 B 4 Obama" Perfect.

    January 28, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  12. Paul, Ohio

    I'm really offended by that. Of course Sen. Kennedy isn't sexist. But the only two endorsements I care about are Dennis Kucinich and Russ Feingold, with the latter carrying more weight.

    January 28, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  13. Alan

    So would the NOW-NY chapter endorse a female Republican candidate simply on the basis of her gender? NFW – but they expect everyone to fall in line for Hillary simply based on her gender. I thought equality meant we don't use labels to pick a candidate or an employee or a friend.

    January 28, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  14. ck

    It's much more likely that the Kennedy's are like a lot of people do not like Hillary Clinton and not that they don't want to support a woman. I am a woman and would never vote for Hillary Clinton.

    January 28, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  15. Dan

    Did they ever stop to think..."Should we be voting for the right candidate, or just the one who happens to be a woman?"

    I am personally for Obama but I can respect anyone who likes Hillary for her stances. To like Hillary just for being a woman is not only terribly single minded, it also shows a total lack of respect for the process of democracy.

    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  16. McCoy

    poor ted kennedy, not even allowed to support the candidate he likes best... WE LIVE IN THE USA come on! Betrayal?! No. Opinion, choice, and rights, now there is some equality.

    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  17. allison

    Again the issue has come down to, we want a woman to be president. I'm a woman, but I REALLY don't want to hear this crap. I thought it was about the best person to lead.

    Get OVER yourselves. it sounds like a little kid crying cuz they didn't get picked for the soccer team. PULEEZE. Women don't NEED justification from the political arena to be have self worth and value. We already know who we are. Well some of us anyway. As if this is the only chance a woman has to run.

    It seems like if Hillary stood on her head and did the hula, woman who would vote for her because she's female. Which gives men even MORE reason to not trust in our ability to make SOUND decisions. Besides What does gender have to do with anything. The Clintons have been shady this whole campaign... Give me a break.

    A woman in B-More.

    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  18. independent for obama

    I could care less what any special interest group says of any endorser of any candadate. Give me a break! I am sure there was no sexism in Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama. To say so would be outright rediculous.

    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  19. AA

    This will only result in a backlash. NOW is saying that women should vote for Hillary simply because she is a woman...this only demeans the value of their vote. The right to vote is best used when it allows the participant to make up his/her mind. In this case Kennedy thought Obama was the better candidate. All of this behind the scene positioning is ridiculous!!!

    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  20. AJ, California

    To Vote for someone because they have a certain set of sex organs is beyond idiotic. Who's sexist now, NOW?

    Go to the UK to hail the Queen if your that frustrated with women rights. I mean C'mon. : /

    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  21. s.positive


    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. Mike

    Quit your crying. If the reason someone should be backed is because of gender, maybe there's some growing up to do.

    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  23. Lois

    Give me a break! What or who are the Kennedy's beholding to? Can't they have thoughts about anything other than NOW?

    January 28, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. Suzanne

    Are we sure that the Onion didn't put that statement out? That's so over the top and absurd that it can't be an official statement. It's the drunken rants of a 19 year old liberal arts student.

    January 28, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  25. Susan Yaruta-Young

    I am a 55 year old woman, mother, grandmother, professsional working in ministry with a liberal denomination and I back Obama all the way. I back him because I believe in him. I do not think SEX or gender choice should be a reason why we vote for a president., We choose who we believe in. I do not believe nor even like Clinton - nor have I ever. To say that Kennedy choosing to back Obama is going against NOW and women is stupid sexist stuff (actually were I not in ministry I'd pick another word that starts with a s and has 4 letters.
    I am a feminist but I do not allow that to get in the way of who I think is the right person for the presidency. I like Obama's statements. I have read one of his books his first on his early childhood - those are formative years. In that book I heard his respect and love of his family: men and women.
    As for Clinton. She's been in the political game too long . I like what Toni Morrison said today when she endorsed Obama - he is smart and creative and that adds up to wisdom. Clinton is slick and D.C. street wise - she's playing by a formula she thinks will win her votes and I don't see her heart or her wisdom. I see the same old stuff but in a woman's body. If Clinton was more like Obama then she might have had my vote but she isn't - she is a tough lawyer "let me win this case and let me sink in all the slick rhetoric and slander I can". Sorry. I don't trust her and I have encouraged my three daughters to also look beyond the fact she's a woman to who she is as a person. Let's quit the black/white; male/female divisions and go for the person.

    January 28, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
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