January 29th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: I didn't snub Clinton


The moment: Obama looks toward Sen. Clair McCaskill as Kennedy and Clinton shake hands. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

(CNN) - It seems a snub is in the eye of the beholder.

The question swirling around Barack Obama Tuesday: did he, or didn’t he, deliberately snub presidential rival Hillary Clinton at the State of the Union speech?

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the Illinois senator said all the talk swirling around the moment the two crossed paths Monday night is much ado about nothing. (Watch Obama comment on the moment.)

"I was surprised by sort of the reports this morning," Obama told reporters. "You know there was the photograph in the Times about, sort of, me turning away. I was turning away because [Sen.] Claire [McCaskill] asked me a question as Sen. [Ted] Kennedy was reaching for her."

"Sen. Clinton and I have very cordial relations off the floor and on the floor. I waved at her as we were coming into the Senate chamber before we walked over last night," he continued. "I think that there's just a lot more tea leaf reading going on here than I think people are suggesting."

The moment came at Monday's speech when Clinton headed to shake hands with a congressman seated in front of Obama. CNN's Jessica Yellin reports that Kennedy, seated directly next to Obama, then moved to shake Clinton's hand. As the two senators spoke, Obama turned to look at the back of the room. It was only after Obama turned away, Yellin reports, that McCaskill struck up a conversation with Obama.

McCaskill also commented on the incident Tuesday, calling it "one of those accidents that just happened and got caught on film."

"There was a wave and there was a friendly moment," she said at an Obama campaign press availability. "And I think that, as somebody who watched the whole thing, I was amazed when I woke up this morning and I was part of it, I didn’t even realize. I mean, it was one of those things that all of a sudden it's being blown into something that it frankly just wasn’t."

- CNN's Chris Welch and Alexander Mooney

soundoff (2,059 Responses)
  1. Todd

    So we're going to decide who the president is over what might happen on an episode of "The Real World"? My party should be ashamed of ourselves over how we've fawned over these two cowards while John Edwards tried to talk about ISSUES and was ignored.

    January 30, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. John

    Let's take a realistic view here... this isn't even news-worthy. Obama said it wasn't a snub, Hillary says she doesn't consider it one. Regardless of what it was, we should have the same decency the candidates have to put it behind them, and discuss things that actually matter.

    It's a sad commentary on the state of society when people choose their vote over something like this, rather than stances on real issues, ability to lead, willingness to work with both parties to get things done.

    Shame on the news agencies for making an issue out of something that shouldn't be, and shame on all the citizens of this country that care about something so unimportant relative to actual issues.

    January 30, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. Lisa, Texas

    Who cares how people perceived a situation. I do not have the time to acknowledge every single people everyday. That others do, is simply surprising to me.

    People get so crazy when someone does not speak to them. what is that all about?

    If one feels that bad about someone not acknowledging them, then stay home, never leave the house. Then your feeling will not be hurt.

    Grow up-grown-ups!

    January 30, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. LL

    J. McKinney SW MO writes:
    LL says: "As was stated previously, Hillary was leaning forward to say something to Sen Kennedy. She wasn't speaking to Barack. Regardless, does this really matter in the scheme of things? Let's look at their individual records or what they believe in. That's what is important to make sure we make the best choice for the next president."

    Yes, it DOES matter in the scheme of things — let's do look at their records. And when we do, we already know that Clinton has more experience, and that she actually has posted her plan to pay for everything She has suggested. Obama just talks the talk–he doesn't walk the walk. He can't tell you how he will accomplish any of his "hopes and dreams and choices". Add to that the fact that he is ON VIDEO where it is obvious he is snubbing Clinton, and we see that in addition to being too inexperienced, he is also sullen and pouty. Something we sure don't need in a president. He needs to be capable of handling himself in awkward situations with other world leaders whom he also may not like. We need Clinton!

    JW: You weren't there. You were watching a video. You do not know specifically what happened moment by moment. You do not know what happened before or after the speech. Also, have you read every single article written by or about Obama? Believe what you want because I really don't care. The point of what I wrote earlier is that there is this much interest over a handshake when there are many more important world issues going on in the world. Vote for whatever candidate you feel would best represent the country. Do you personally know Obama? How do you know how he handles himself in any situation except this one random moment? Were you this hard on Hillary when she cried over losing a primary election? People are people. We are all human beings. Again, vote for whoever you believe would be the best candidate. I personally like them both and think they would be an amazing powerhouse if they could work together. However, I think there is too much negativity coming out in this campaign that can divide people over minute and inconsequential things rather than focusing on the bigger and much more important issues. I have no intention of getting into an argument with some stranger on the internet and someone whose opinion is not going to affect mine. I am merely trying to get people to focus on more important issues. Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion and have a wonderful day!

    January 30, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. Bryce

    This is the most ridiculous thing yet. Grow up people. This isn't a reality show. This isn't President IDOL. The media is playing you like a fiddle. Anyone who has EVER used a camera can tell you that a moment frozen in time can be interpreted in a plethora of ways depending on the angle of the shot. Come on you guys. Get serious and stop injecting gossip and things that have nothing to do with the ISSUES into the campaign. We're talking about presidential campaigns not the next Britney Spears breakdown. Separate your tabloid fix from electing our next president please. Don't take something idiotic and use that as your excuse for voting for or against someone because you're too lazy to really give your time and energy to studying the issues. You're acting like high schoolers who really want to not like the new girl but don't have a reason so they use something insignificant. "Did you see what she was wearing today!?!? I knew there was a reason why I didn't like her!!" You're just using this to exercise your personal prejudices whatever the true nature of that is. There are people paid to inject this type of stupidity into the process because basically they think that public is one step above retarded. There are people on this site right now leaving comments that they don't even believe because they're trying to use this as a way of swaying your opinion one way or another. If you allow THIS to influence your vote you are pathetically gullible and displaying the same intelligence as a dog being tossed a bone in order to keep him from barking at you.

    January 30, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  6. michael

    It doesn't matter that a possible future president can't look adversaries in the face!! IObama would be a disaster as president. Imagine Obama snubbing leaders from around the world? Yes!!

    January 30, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  7. H Arnold

    I am a 53 year old Hispanic woman and a Clinton supporter, but I had been thinking that I really needed to tune into what Obama had to say and make my judgement fairly. But on Tuesday when I saw Obama turn away when Hillary came over to shake hands which I took as a show of unity for the Democrates. This made me realize that he is splitting the Democrates. To me this was important to show that they are united as a political party but he showed that he is willing to show disunity.
    HIS ADVISORS ADVISED HIM WRONG. He knew what he was doing.
    Because of his show of disunity I will not be taking another look at him as president.

    January 31, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Joni

    Funny how this photo makes news but no one notes when Barack pulls out Clinton's chair prior to the debate. America, America.

    January 31, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  9. Emily

    You people are sick and really don't have much to do. To the person who left the comment about we should have a nice President, as of today, we don't even have a smart President! Let's not forget about the President who had sexual relations with an intern! What's the character in that compared to Barack? For all of Hillary's supporters, do you really think she cares about the " may have been a snub". Speaking of growing up, how immature is it to leave comments based on a picture that says nothing.

    February 1, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
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