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. geoff - olywa

    Anyone else see the irony in NY NOW getting upset at Kennedy for not endorsing a woman, while remaining silent about HIllary staying with her husband despite his repeated womanizing? Where is the BIll condemnation by NOW?

    These folks give feminism a bad name, which is unfortunate because women need a powerful voice.

    January 29, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Susan, NH

    Ted Kennedy endorsed John Kerry in the last election and Kerry still lost. Does Kennedy's endorsement really matter?

    January 29, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. Joyce

    Get real all you NOW members!!

    What women's rights? The right to hide behind your "man"?????

    January 29, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Alex - New York, NY

    If you're for women's rights, support the candidate you think will best further that cause. Voting for Hillary because she's a woman and you just think it's time a woman had a chance to be president isn't furthering women's rights. The best way to combat any kind of prejudicial, lopsided system is to see beyond it. Racism is defeated when we don't even see color as an issue, one way or another. The fight for sexual equality means you should support Hillary because she's the best candidate, not because she's a woman.

    January 29, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. unknown

    I think we need to sit and remind ourselves who put us here and what he stood for. Each of us vote for who you believe will rebuild our great nation, not by who others endorse. God Bless America and God Bless All Nations

    January 29, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. LMH

    What a waste of a woman running for president. I'm much more proud of Geraldine Ferraro. At least she seemed trustworthy, isn't complicit in crimes of a prior administration, and didn't whine when she was hit hard in politics.

    January 29, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. Jim

    If Oprah had endorsed Hillary Clinton, the Clinton supporters would have toted that one to the moon and back, thrilled that their candidate received Oprah's support and ready to tell the world. However, she endorsed Obama. And all we heard from the Clinton crowd was, "Who cares what Oprah thinks?"

    Fast forward, had Ted Kennedy endorsed Clinton, the Clinton supporters would had howled with delight, and announced it to the country with pride. But Ted endorsed Obama. And all we hear from the Clinton crowd is, "What cares what Kennedy thinks?

    Are we seeing a pattern here?

    January 29, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. CHINO

    Are we voting because of this "CAUSE" ENDORSEMENTS? are we going to believe the outsiders (TED KENNEDY) of what he believes and what we do not? Are we going to be brained washed by this man who endorses Obama lately? If so, where did your beliefs stand from now on? where are your commitment to support a person from day "ONE" C'mon people stand where ever you are and whatever you believe on the candidate. Hilarry is the most qualified top notcher among DEMS, pls do think for our "CAUSE" and our childrens "CAUSE" show your support once and for all from "DAY ONE" this is not a game as she said this is not who's up nor who's down she just don't want us to fall backwards it's us who represent our children for their future.
    LET THE COMEBACKS UNITE AGAIN. BY VOTING WISELY for Our Kids sake and future and "CAUSE". Hillary is the best among the rest and that is my point of view.

    GO........HILLARY 08

    CHINO of Orlando, Florida

    January 29, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. RD

    Obama is an American, not black, not white. Judge your own racism when you focus on the origins of Obama's father, and not his mother.

    January 29, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. bb

    I respect Hillary's great intelligence and determination to help others. That is a great role model for young women. However, I do not respect her choice to remain with Bill after all he put her through. That is NOT a role model to emulate, calls into question her judgement , her own self-respect and negates her achievements. Their relationship and history together is her Achilles heel. She needs to stand on her own.

    January 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. nero

    Shame on Obama to accept Kennedy endorsment, and he talks about leaving old politics behind.

    January 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. Obamamania

    Would NOW support a woman who stayed with her husband after learning that he had multiple affairs?

    Would NOW support a woman who had her husband doing the dirty work of slinging mud for her?

    January 29, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. RCD WA

    What in God's name are they talking about? Since when does supporting Obama over Hillary make someone sexist? That's like saying someone who supports Hillary over Obama is racist. Why can't NOW come to the conclusion that Ted Kennedy supports Obama because he thinks he is the best candidate, not because of any sexism on Kennedy's part. And since when does Kennedy owe anything to NOW, there's nothing they've ever really done for him. If Hillary has any decency, she will disavow NOW.
    God, this makes me sick.

    January 29, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. BJ

    The Kennedy's have not been in the White House for years. What does Ted & Caroline know? Everyone needs to look at the candidates as individuals, what they stand for, their past experience, what their plans are for our country, etc. We need a strong leader!!! The Republican's have been in office for the last 8 years, and look at our economy. It is a mess! Our dollar is not worth a dollar. We are spending billions of dollars on a war that will never end on it's own. **Remember people, all the money wasted on the war and politics could help our economy right here in the USA. Possibly even help Universal healthcare! Let's help the American people for a change. We need change . . . we need a Democrat as President. I truly don't think we need Obama. Hillary or Edwards has my vote!!!!

    January 29, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. AJ, IL


    Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who gave the Democratic response to Bush's State of the Union address, is endorsing Obama.

    Go ahead NOW! Bash Gov. Sebelius as betraying women everywhere.

    January 29, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. carmela

    Another contrived attack from the BILLARY camp. Ridiculous to suggest that Senator Kennedy should have considered nothing more than gender in his endorsement of a presidential candidate. By this group's standard, all white guys should be offended on John Edwards' behalf. Look to character and history people! Let's make history in 2008! We would do well to follow Senator Kennedy's example and support Obama.

    January 29, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Dan - Austin,TX

    "why should the state chapter of the National Organization for Women be upset for Sen Kenndy onhis decision to back Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton"

    Well apparently you guys have no clue what WOW has done for Kennedy and what he had promised them in return. But hey why do we care what the kennedy's think any way , I mean JFK had a sex life like Bill .

    January 29, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. DH

    So Ted Kennedy endorses Obama – sort of like an endorsement from Scott Peterson. Kennedy is a pathetic joke but he is right on selecting Obama over Hillary. She would be the worst possible thing that could happen to this country. Realistically they are are both losers. She is a power hungry socialist and he will be steam-rolled by Congress. NY NOW has proven it is irrelevent as an intelligent womans org.

    January 29, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. Tim, Seattle

    Past vs Future

    Hillary = Past
    Obama = Future

    January 29, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. Ronnie Ruff DC

    I don't know of many men more supportive of women's rights than myself. I have defended clinics and marched side by side with women for various causes but I am voting for Obama not because he is a man but because I am so tired of the Bush Clinton dynasty.. Enough is enough and shame on anyone who pulls the race or gender card.

    January 29, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Randy S.

    So a bunch of feminazis are whining because Kennedy believes Obama will do a better job and is more electable than Hillary. It's NOT all about you ladies. Half the Democratic electorate has come to the same conclusion to the point of threatening to crossover party lines or not vote.

    January 29, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. dee

    Hillary Pimping the Vote again.

    She never thanked SC 130,000 for voting for her.

    Face the music, Hillary and machine may have split the party

    We may have to face a major defecto of many to another party as happened to the GOP in 1960.

    if she is nominated,

    Change is needed Fast

    Howard Dean, need to be replaced

    January 29, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. MT

    Oh spare me! If Hillary is such a powerful woman, why did she need Bill to do her dirty work for her? And for NOW to accuse Ted Kennedy of "the ultimate betrayal"? Puhleeze!! Gender and race entered the discourse only when Hillary started losing. Give us some credit, Billary... we *can* actually think for ourselves and see through sad, desperate maneuverings.

    Go Obama!!!

    January 29, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. Marge, Vermont

    I am shocked at the outrageous remarks from NOW! Have they forgotten their efforts to champion "choice" decisions for WOMEN and ALL people? Have they forgotten the importance of knowledge, behavior, and talent alignment? As a professional woman closely aligned with NOW's mission, I would answer, YES -They have responded to Kennedy's endorsement of Obama as an "entitlement for Hillary Clinton" rather than respecting and acknowledging that Barack Obama earned the "right choice" from Ted Kennedy and family. EVERYONE has a right to choose and proclaim their opinion and decision!!!!

    January 29, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Latez

    Last night I went through my phone book and sent over 126 people text messages to support Barack Obama in their state Feb 5. I also encourage them to send it to 10 different people to spread the word on the importance of voting on Feb 5. I think supports on this site should do the same thing as well. Make a comment about why you support Obama and send to everyone in your phone book. We all can do something to keep the REVOLUTION alive.

    OBAMA 08

    January 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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