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. Eric

    So Obama, Axelrod, and McCaskill all say that Obama did not snub Hillary. Do you expect them to say anything else? The media and voters will have to decide what this snub looked like to them. It is also obvious if you look at the video that Claire tapped Obama AFTER he turned his shoulder to Hillary not before. Obama could have also reached out to Hillary even if he had been talking to Claire but he did not.

    And here is another couple questions: If Hillary had done this to Obama would the media and blogs be treating her with kids gloves over this? NO. And if her high level endorsers had stated she had not snubbed Obama would they have been believed? No.

    As for people saying that Hillary is trying to use this to her advantage...did she say anything about this today? Why is the Obama camp trying to act as if she did?

    January 29, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. Vince, Arizona

    THIS..... IS..... NOT..... AN..... ISSUE.......

    January 29, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Ben

    Obama, I believe you. I don't know if I would if Clinton said the same thing.

    January 29, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. Helen


    January 29, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. Bob

    Once again Obama does something arguably unbecoming and he claims he was misunderstood or that there was something else behind it. This reminds me of his "Hillary you're likeable enough" comment at the debate. Why isn't what Obama says and does subject to same attacks when Hillary (or Bill) does something?

    January 29, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Chris

    I bet a lot of people are feeling a little bit silly of themselves at this moment...

    January 29, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. caesar

    People who try to analyze human behavior like this in a snap shot of an instant in time are perpetuating prejudice and are being judgemental in their interpretation of a human behavioral/phenomonological events.
    I don't get it, when even anthropologists and sociologists have trouble doing this.
    Read Clifford Geertz 1978 or Pierre Bourdieu 1989 if you really and trully would like to understand how difficult it actually is to make interpretations based on observations of human behavior.
    Why do people jump to, and are so fickle to change their minds based on a single interpretation made by the Media giants?
    Ahh, long live the power of the Media.

    January 29, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Nik, Houston, TX

    Obama, Obama... why are you LYING? Even Sen McKaskill says that she struck up a conversation AFTER you stood there with your back turned to Hillary. There are precious moments like this that remind the public that you're not only a sore loser, but also a sore winner. How can people believe that you want to "unite" when in the purest political forum such as a SOTU address, you clearly choose to ignore and then deny making a truce with your fellow Dem opponent? Are you going to turn your back on the Russian, Chinese, Korean leaders too if they don't agree with you?

    January 29, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Hillbilly for Hillbilly

    Yeah, right. Last time I believed Obama I thought he was running for the Senate to represent Illinois!

    January 29, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. John

    American needs a polite president.

    January 29, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Mimi

    We have the video, Liar!
    And don't forget "you are likable enough."

    January 29, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. Ed

    It is the afternoon the day after. If this is not scripted, I do not know what is. Why did it take Senator Obama this long to come up with a statement. This statement from Barack also undoes the damage control done by David Axelrod on his behalf early this morning when he stated Senator Obama was allowing Clinton and Kennedy to have a private moment. These type of contradictions are simply left to rookies. We want this bufoon to be our next president? What a joke!!!

    January 29, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. john17

    you definitely snubbed her dude. Don't deny it

    January 29, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Clintonhater

    Ok lets see what kind of Spin the Clinton Supporters try and put on this now..they been posting up bullcrap all day about how Immature Obama was for not shaking her hand and now the man himself said he didn't shun her...enough of this bull....this is worse then a episode of the real world...

    January 29, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. JimS.

    I am so sick of news networks trying to make the news rather than just report it. From obsessing about race/gender to non-issues like a non-snub. Will you people just quit dwelling on stupid junk and report real issues? Or is that "too hard"?

    January 29, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Tom

    Nice try.
    It certainly doesn't convince me.
    Sad really.
    He can't be cordial to his opposing candidate whom he's had a little spat with yet he says he can talk to his enemies abroad.
    I hear that giant sucking sound coming out of the Obama camp.

    January 29, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  17. glory brandl

    Obama's behavior and body language was there for the whole world to see. A month ago I would have voted for him, but his body language in the last month has showed me that he is still immature to be president. Body language is usually much more honest than words.

    January 29, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  18. Frank

    What a shame; these two are both brillian people that could do so much for our country if they work together! I am a Hillary supporter since I don't think Obama has enough experience to run this country yet, and we have had enough of having an incapable President. Or in light of the other article here, perhaps I should say "incapacitated President"?

    January 29, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. OBAMA 08

    So now CNN can we switch to the issues.

    Hillary would also show the "grace" her supporters say she has, by responding as well.

    January 29, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. MaryJo

    I certainly hope Obama would not do something like snubbing another canidate. That would not be very appropriate. They are in this together. If it is true, then sorry for him. Woudn't want someone like that representing me. And I'm not a Dem.
    Wouldn't appreciate a Rep either doing that.

    January 29, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  21. joe








    January 29, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. Barbara Cross

    I was very upset that Mr,Obama , acted as if he was too good to shake the hand of Mrs ,Clinton ,It really shows me now that men like that have no respect for women . an Cnn shows me also they have who they want to win already its very plain.

    January 29, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. Tim

    Yea,Right. Always an excuse, never wrong.

    January 29, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. boynla, LA, CA

    obama is a baby. i cant wait for hillary to whip him on feb 5 and put an end to this thing.

    January 29, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. Matt

    Politcs of hope and change at work. Obama is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    January 29, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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