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. therealist

    Never thought I'd see the day that NOW would be supporting a "Tammy Wynette" candidate..

    Might I suggest a new theme song..
    Sometimes it's hard to be a woman
    Giving all your love to just one man
    You'll have bad times And he'll have good times
    Doin things that you don't understand
    But if you love him You'll forgive him
    Even though he's hard to understand
    And if you love him Oh, be proud of him
    Cause after all he's just a man

    Stand by your man
    Give him two arms to cling to
    And something warm to come to
    when nights are cold and lonely

    Stand by your man
    And show the world you love him
    Keep giving all the love you can
    Stand by your man

    Stand by your man
    And show the world you love him
    Keep giving all the love you can
    Stand by your man

    January 29, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Judy - CA

    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 same politicians like Kennedy and Kerry). However, he is not as untainted by politics as he would like us to believe. But the media doesn't seem to give him the same intense scrutiny which they seem to reserve for the Clintons. When Hillary was blasted by Obama during the first debates and complained about "piling on", the media portrayed her as trying to play the "victim". But when she returned fire on Obama, she got accused of dirty politics and mud-slinging. 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.

    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 would have known if he is anywhere close to what he portrays himself to be. And as far as having the endorsement of Ted Kennedy..... that's not necessarily a good thing and what political deals will Ted be expecting should Obama get into office?

    January 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. RealityKing

    Barefoot and pregnant vs old and lonely;

    You made the choice, NOW live with it..

    January 29, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Stacy

    I have a uterus and I also support Barrack Obama. HRC is the last person I would want my daughter to grow up and emulate.
    Let's not forget that her experience is that of being married to a sucessful man.
    Let's not forget that she stood by her man and demonized the women he dilly-dallied.
    Let's not forget that she takes credit for her husbands achievments but not his failures.
    The Clinton's are a team....a dysfunctional team and both are demeaning to women.

    January 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Dan, NJ

    Is this obvious or what:

    Bill Clinton's mud slinging had a negative effect in S.C. so the campaign has turned to surrogates a little further removed to sling some dirt at Ted Kennedy. This is patently offensive to men and women alike and this organizaton and the Clinton campaigns should be ashamed of themselves.

    January 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. Ben Palmer

    You don't see the NAACP or some organization like that for African Americans calling people who endorse Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, etc. traitors and accusing them of joining a list of people unable to handle an African American as president, now do you? This is utterly childish, just because Ted Kennedy chooses to pick a candidate other than Hillary Clinton does NOT say anything about whether or not he's against having a woman as president. Equal rights for women does not mean we pick the woman candidate in a presidential election just because she is a woman. I want to see us have president of every race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or whatever the hell as long as they do whats right for our country.

    January 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    OMG......you women should stop crying!!! Geez! HRC was endorsed by Maxine Waters today...so you all can stop crying about how much Obama won SC because of the "black vote" (which is such an incredibly naive thing to believe anyway)......

    I am laughing at all the HRC supporters hanging onto the thin thread of hope (irony that) that HRC will somehow "crush" Obama come Feb 5th……since none of you is the least bit politically savvy….let me "break it down" for you poor saps….

    Feb 5th will come and go…HRC will probably garner the majority of votes but the DELEGATES will be split 3 ways between HRC, Obama and Edwards….Edwards doesn't have a chance but you are crazy if you think he's going to drop out! EDWARDS IS GOING TO DELIVER HIS DELEGATES TO OBAMA IN EXCHANGE FOR EITHER A VICE PRESIDENCY OR PLATFORM COMMITMENT. He'll blackmail Obama into actively pursing one of Edwards' platform agendas…..

    Ted Kennedy just crowned Obama King…….you all should just sit back and enjoy the ride….!


    January 29, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. Doris

    It is known that the Kennedy men have always thought of women........ Who cares. His endorsement has done nothing except alot of blogs. Clinton continue to climb in the polls. Yeah Clinton

    January 29, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. Matt

    Tracey, a vote for Obama is a vote for McCain...my vote. I won't trust a neophyte with zero foreign policy experience to ensure the safety and security of this country, let alone manage the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If Democrats screw this up and side with the Obama/Kennedy vision of idealism and vague promises of "hope" and "change" over the Clinton pragmatism that actually wins elections, we will find ourselves on the sidelines for the next 8 years.

    Clinton '08!

    January 29, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. sharon walker

    Dear Friends:

    What would kennedy know about woman! Remember the unborn child!
    Catholic! Remember the Florida incident. Remember that equality from Senator John F Kennedy meant womans vote and equality on the job.
    Unlike Edward! In your mind!

    Woman of America get out the vote! Who amoung you will endorse Hillary Clinton! Make a page full!!!!!!!! Photos and comments put it on the blog and in the news paper.

    January 29, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |


    January 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. Judith Ferren Errol NH

    excuse me, I'm a woman and over 60 years old, I support Obama for president as well..... I do not vote by race or gender, I vote and support Whom I believe to be the right person to run the country. I have four daughters and have always taught them to be what ever they wish to be and go as far as they can in life. I believe in womens rights, but I will not vote for someone I do not trust or want as president no matter what gender they are. I am also an American of mix heritage ( Irish. english, American Indian, Scots and German). I will not vote for any one based on race issues either, because above all I am an AMERICAN.

    Frankly I think that NOW, is really backing Clinton just because she is a woman, and this is about our country not weather we wear a skirt or pants. SHAME ON NOW....

    January 29, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Bene`

    Oscar- I agree w/you on your comments to Mary-she can't even spell correctly and has the audacity to try and write a dissertation on something she knows absolutely nothing about. Mary, what else can you say about Obama besides his alleged dealings w/Rezko? Nothing, because you don't know what you are talking about. Please don't take my word for it, but research Hillary and all of the scandals she was apart of from the 90's until present. The information is out there for you to read, just search. You are completely clueless on what Hillary stands for or is about. You are voting for her based on the sole purpose that she is a woman, and that is not wise.

    January 29, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Susan, NH

    What's the deal between Obama and his friend for 15 years, Rezko, the Chicago developer who got arrested and is under criminal investigation? He bought his house $300,000 under its market value. I am not sure I can trust his judement in making the right choices. I also can't see what kind of change he will bring with him to the White House. But I don't mind if he can teach me how I can buy a house for $300,000 less its market price.

    January 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. Mary, Jacksonville, FL

    Who did he betray? We live in a free country with the priviledge of freedom of speech and choice – he's entitled to back whomever he pleases. Do you want Clinton as President just because she's a woman – now I would say that's very lame.

    January 29, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  16. Nicole

    I agree with Christine above!!!!!!!!!! Give me a break. If Hillary Clinton is not qualified enough (much more so than Obama), then what woman or PERSON ever could be? Does any of Obama's supporters have any idea at all about who Hillary really is? Really? Read up on facts and the past 30+ years and then tell me who you really support.

    Hillary has my 100% support and it has NOTHING to do with her gender. It has everything to do with her entire life and how she has dedicated it to people in need. She is smart, she is dedicated, and she is 100% committed to making a real difference in this country which needs help! Hillary can and will do it. Obama is a nice guy but does that make him better qualified? You look at records, compare the two and tell me he is a better candidate. I think not!!

    January 29, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Eric

    There are countless silly comments on this silly thread.

    One that I find exceptionally lacking thought is the "Well, Kennedy endorsed Kerry and he lost, so it doesn't matter."

    Actually, Kerry won the nomination, and the Kennedy endorsement helped. You people do realize that we are still in the primaries right?

    January 29, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. Irene Beaulieu

    I think it has gotten crazy! I am for Hillary Clinton ...I am deeply saddened at the attacks of Hillary, she is a woman and I am a woman.....I debated for a long time thinking are we ready for a female President? yes I do and I think she can do the job....Senator Obama I think needs a little more experience, he is not a pastor he is a politition...it scares me to think people, especially Carolyn Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy whom I deeply respect for thinking Barack Hussain Obama would be our savour.......anyway I am very excited for the fact that we are making history! this day!
    Barack Obama needs to learn more about change, himself......we are in a mess if someone gets in office that has only been Senator for just 2 years and where was he before, I am sorry we are in trouble we need someone that needs to know something about what he or her is doing.

    Thank you! Irene Beaulieu from Florida!

    January 29, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. jnan

    I suspect the only reason Kennedy turned his back on Hillary is because he wants to show Bill who the boss is! Bill must have told him where to go after Kennedy tried to strong arm him into shutting up during the slugfest right before the NH caucus. I can just hear Bill tell him he was not going to back down because the slugfest went both ways It was not a one sided fight like the media made it out to be. Obama gave more than his share of bob, weave and suker punch too. Funny how Kennedy was neutral up to this point.

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. Nikki

    Joanna and Claustro,

    I respect your opinions. This is America and you are certainly entitled to them. That said, I still stand by what I stated earlier. She is not my choice for president.

    January 29, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. Melanie

    This is the kind of crap that gives feminists a bad name!

    January 29, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Jim

    They can complain all they want. A man as a right to endorse whomever he chooses regardless of any affliations. Personally I have no problem with a woman president as long it is not Hillary Clinton.

    January 29, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. jackmack

    Looks like snow white is romancing the stone. Oh well politics make strange bed fellows

    January 29, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. Jimmy, Oklahoma Feb. 5th

    The ALL Boy's Club otherwise known as the ESTABLISHMENT, yea you know who I am talking about, Kerry, Daschle, Leahy, and now Kennedy. The very men that Obama was campaigning against. I guess one will say or do anything to become President. You do not get those four with out giving something up. Sure they do not want to work for any women either.

    Senator Clinton my first Choice, Senator McCain my second. Sorry Obama, men like the ones above make me want to change parties. Not issue's but parties. I thought better of you then to go down this road. DESPERATION.

    January 29, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. opal

    It feels like sour grapes from Ted Kennedy,this may be the closest he will ever get to being president and we all know nothing is free. what is the problem with CNN an their claim of being "fair and balanced." This does not seem to apply to Hilary Clinton. When was the last time CNN presented her in a positive light. You certainly seemed to get excited when Obama was ahead by a few votes anywhere. As for Bill being supportive,why shouldn't he? With minimal reseach I realized Obama's family ties on his mothers' side are never discussed. Why is he not proud of those roots as well? His father basically abandoned him as a child and he was raised seemingly by his mother and devoted maternal grandparents. His father received a scholarship to go to Harvard and after getting a degree,the father returned to Kenya where he later died in an automobile accident. Obama's mother died in 1992 years after her second marriage to an Indonesian gentleman. That marriage produced a half-sister to Obama,why have we heard nothing about her? The grandparents lived in Hawaii apparently where they died,but were from Kansas. Are there no relatives living other than his sister? Where is his pride in his white relatives? After graduating high school,he apparently went on to a college prior to being acceptrd at Harvard. Was his education paid for by his white grandparents;there is no data in reference to employment after leaving Harvard. Another question arises in regard to his voting record,or should I say the lack of;just being "present " does not seem like he was earning his money. Playing it safe doesn't usually pay off either unless one has larger political ideas than just being a junior senator. Always seeing both sides of the coin is a standard psychology trick if you will. True,Mr Obama is a great orator,one is drawn to listen to what he says but then so was the effect of the pied piper on the town's herd of rats. No pun intended,since humans repotedly are able to listen in between the tune for the sour notes,but not everyone hears the same music or at least not clearly. The informed voter is needed more than ever at this time,one who has truly researched the records of each candidate before voting. To the uninformed this entire comment might seem like its tinged with racist thought,so let me add that I am the mother of mixed-race children and I belive they are proud of both the black and white ancestry. I have a daughter the same age as Mr Obama. However,racism has been present since the beginning of this run for president,although subtle most of the time. Do you think when Mr Obama made statements of,"They sais it couldn't be done." that he was referring to a junior senator "besting" several seasoned senator and politician? Wake up. I am a democrat but will not vote for Obama even if that means Ivote republican.

    January 29, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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