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

Obama: I didn't snub Clinton

ALT TEXT

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. Ray, Guyana

    How can Obama want to be president when he cannot work with his own party rival, Clinton, Will he simply turn away from the GOP?

    January 29, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. Wayne

    Obama is such a spoiled baby! I hope Hillary trounces him on Super Tuesday (and I hope there are video cameras around to capture Obama's temper tantrum when it happens).

    January 29, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  3. BOO-BAMA

    It's a man's club.

    He couldn't have missed her she was wearing RED.

    He shook BUSH's hand but not Hillary's.

    Brat.

    January 29, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  4. suzy

    TO BEN – IF YOU ACTUALLY WATCH THE FOOTAGE, YOU WILL SEE THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS.
    BUT, AS MANY OTHERS, YOU ARE BLINDLY TAKING THE MEDIA'S WORD.
    I WATCHED THE ENTIRE SOTU, INCLUDING THE SNUB – IT CAN'T BE DENIED.
    IS OBAMA LYING? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE.......

    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    CALIFORNIA IS WAITING FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  5. pat

    you can blast bill all you want but hes only sticking up for his wife, good for you bill, but she is very capitable of taking care of herself. there a lot of what bill says that is true,i dont think so carolina was a big win he was expected to win that state lets see what happens on super tuesday.

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. John Wakefield, Essex, NY

    So now that Bill and Hillary have been called out for distorting his record, they have hired the Clinton News Network (CNN) to distort his character and body language. If this trend continues, Haiti will have a stronger economy than the United States.

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. TJ

    First of all this isn't newsworthy. Second, I wouldn't have shaken her hand either!
    Obama '08

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Miles

    Time and Time again Obama shows his true colors, but only the smart are listening, only the intelligent thinkers can read between the lines and see his lies.

    Obama, you have shown you have a bad excuse for everything...And you want to be president after hitting the wrong button over and over again...I am happy to see more people are beginning to pay attention!

    Obama is a Wolf in Sheep's clothing...the only person he cares about is himself, not the American Public, not the poor, not the blacks, not the whites, not the hispanics, not the women and not the children!!

    Wake Up America!!

    Hillary Clinton President 2008...Wonder Woman to the Rescue, NO ONE LEFT BEHIND!!!

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. KM

    It is interesting to see how things are shaping up with these candidates. I am getting excited by the day at the same time worried about how this will all end. Being a US resident and not a citizen yet, I do not have the right to vote in this upcoming election, but I am very eager about the outcome since its an important milestone because of all the crisis this country is in at this point of time.

    I find Obama to be so immature, lack of ability to run this country and his speeches lack content. I am totally surprised by the way people back him just because of his skin color and sometimes I feel just because he is a minority of the whole lot.

    American did the same mistake when it came to Bush. Look what has become to this country. Can we avoid a similar mistake by not choosing Obama. He will not be good for this country for sure. I see how stupid Americans voters can be when it comes to choosing their leaders!!.

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. TN

    Here we go again. Look at that glorious picture from CNN. Huger than Yellin's first report of course. And you had to go out of your way to report Obama in a favorable light. It wasn't even a big deal what really took place either way, but CNN has to give Obama the benefit of the doubt as well as air time. I'm sure in the debate this week CNN will not hold Obama accountable for avoiding answering any questions directly, but they will for sure drudge up South Carolina and Jesse Jackson and everything about Bill Clinton. Why don't you report that Jesse Jackson was not offended by the comment from Bill Clinton in SC last week? Why don't you report that three of RFK's children have endorsed Hillary Clinton? I love how you had to mention Maxine Waters' endorsement of Hillary. The bottom two lines your article after all your fluff on Obama's latest endorsements.

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. Christian, Tampa FL

    Frankly, it's wishful thinking on the part of the media to make SUCH a big deal out of this.

    I am very tired of scrutinizing every single little action that a politician makes. They do it with every presidential candidate, and they do it with sitting office holders and celebrities.

    We all know that the media was looking for some kind of "tension" at the State of the Union speech, and unfortunately so were most of us.

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. zieras

    Plz give me the URL showing the video of the Obama snub.

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  13. Jason

    Let's face it, Obama is on a roll. With the Kennedy endorsement the sky is the limit.
    He no longer needs Michelle, Oprah, Jesse, Al, Rezko or even Mayor Daley.
    However, with the Kennedy connection in place he will have a new set of handlers.
    They are commited to win the presidency and will have a very active roll in the
    Obama administration. Also, they will have the option of running Patrick Kennedy
    for president in 2016.

    LET THE GAMES BEGIN !!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. Jack, Greenville, SC

    He didn't do anything. If Clinton really wants to rise above, the way others claim that she does and has, she will come out and state that they exchanged greetings before entering the chamber and she was not "snubbed".

    But it helps her. She doesn't have much else to hit him on. She lies about him, creates dirty rumors, then she finds some traction with a thing he didn't do that some eager journalist decided to interpret a certain way.

    Sad thing is, some people are influenced by this stuff.

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. Doris

    "It was only after Obama turned away, Yellin reports, that McCaskill struck up a conversation with Obama."

    I believe it. We saw it on the debate. "you're like enough" This reporter isn't lying. What would she gain from this. We know who isn't telling the truth.

    January 29, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    For those of you who think a picture says a thousand words, what about the picture of the Clintons with Rezko?

    Or, does the rule only apply when it favors your candidate?

    January 29, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. Matt

    Who cares!! I'm sure neither one of them noticed. They have more important things to deal with than petty junior high school drama. If this is what people consider important in regards to the upcoming election, then we as a country are in a very sad state of affairs.

    Anyone with a grain of intelligence and empathy for president in '08.

    January 29, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. Council

    I think the press sometimes report whatever available when they go short on news. When Obama won the South Carolina and Iowa primaries, Hillary didn't congratulate him in either her speech. I didn't hear anything about these issues in the press, therefore, the idea to say that Obama didn't aknowledge Hillary, at the State of the Union address, just another way by the Press and Hillary supporters trying to demonous Obama. We are tire with these old tricks, if I was sitting in a hall before my opponent enter, why cant she be the one to speak? Its the same old ideas of trying to hand deliver the democratic nomination in the hands of the Clintons that had been so difficult to archieved. Stop the old tricks because they are not working.

    January 29, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Stephina

    Obama definitely snubbed Hillary. There is no denying that fact. This man is not a uniter!!!

    January 29, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. brad winkler

    WHO CARES if he did or if he didn't. If he says he didn't then that should be good enough for anyone. Can we please move on?

    January 29, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. shame on america

    WHEN DOES THE WAY YOU LOOK AT A PERSON MAKES YOU WHAT YOU ARE? I THINK YOU PEOPLE HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM AND THE UNITED STATES HAS A EVEN BIGGER PROBLEM FINDING OUT WHAT IS WORTH REPORTING AND WHY DO YOU LET THE MEDIA FILL THE AIR WAY WITH FOOLISHNESS? YES THE ONLY COUNTRY RUN BY THE MEDIA NOW THATS SAD REPORTERS ARENT REPORTING NEWS BUT THE WAY A PERSON LOOK AT SOMEONE. OBAMA YOUR RIGHT WE DO NEEDCHANGE........

    January 29, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. B, Gainesville, FL

    You are kidding that this is being discussed. Why on EARTH would Obama stand there while Hillary and Ted exchanged greetings? Wouldn't that be kind of rude? Then it would be all over the papers: "Obama flaunts his endorsement by being Kennedy's shadow". Come on folks–you can't tell me that you think this is a real issue? How do we take one picture and make conjectures about a person's character and actions? Good gracious...

    January 29, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Kobe, LA

    People...people – come on! A snub is when someone extends their hand and you refuse to shake it. I know because I have snubbed many people in my day.

    Dispense with all this nonsense - after someone lies about you, misrepresents your record, slings mud, and race baits: do they deserve the honor of your recognition? I would think not. The Clintons are trying to destroy Mr. Obama - why should he appear to show them any grace in public?

    January 29, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  24. Yannos

    Who cares if he snubbed her or not?

    January 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. nannette

    Who cares if Barack Obama snubbed Mrs. Clinton? We need to focus on the important issues. Maybe he has a reason to snub Mrs. Clinton. Need I say more?

    January 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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