January 29th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 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. Kate

    why doesn't CNN post the other pictures circulating from another angle .. com'on now ... journalistic integrity - most trusted news ... remember???

    January 29, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. Alfredo

    Also, there is nothing wrong when Bill commented that Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina but did not win the nomination. He is just justifying that Hilalry can still win even though Barach in case win the South Carolina caucus.

    January 29, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  3. Darell

    I laugh, Hill supporters have been looking for an excuse to bash Obama. If this is all you guys got, then you are just like her. Spinning words and actions to your advantage. If you think this will slow his momentum, you're on medication. I feel bad for you guys.

    January 29, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  4. hmg

    the news media needs to quit distorting things period.....!!!!!!!...any thing said.to try to make ....barack obama...look bad.......all of the distortions....are not going to work....he will be the next president..........simply because he has included ....all people of all races....in this united states.....

    we need fresh faces in washington....in the supreme court...also...i am disgusted at the clintons...for some of the things they were wrongly saying about mr...obama...when all of this old way of thinking leaves this planet............and all of the predjudice.....leaves ........then and only ...then will the world be a better place...to live in....

    January 29, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  5. d

    If its stupid news, then why are you reading the blogs !

    January 29, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  6. TheBus

    The MSM keeps pressing the "SOTU Photo" issue. Did Barack snub Hills? Is that presidential? BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

    I'm reminded of an article in The Onion last month that talked about how much Bullsh– will the MSM cover this election year. Well, it's obvious that it has already started. Oh, and Sen. McCaskill has already said that she was asking Obama a question at that moment.


    Again, if Hills becomes prez, will she fight for more NAFTA-like trade pacts? Will she fight for more flag burning amendments? Will she fight for another 1996 Welfare Reform Bill that hurt millions of poor families? Will she bring Dick Morris back? Will she fight for another Telecommunications Act of 1996-like bills that allowed major corporations to buy up smaller stations across the U.S., and thereby giving Hannity, Ingrahm, and Beck more exposure? Will she fight for more school uniforms again?

    What a bore.

    Bush + Clinton= Same hypocrisy.

    What a bore.

    She will not get my vote. Please Dems, wake up!

    January 29, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  7. Russ

    This goes to the heart of Mr Obama claim that is is a uniter not a divider. Hum...didn't we hear that before?
    If he can not shake the hand of a fellow Dem how the hell
    is he going to shake the hand of the Repulicans who will
    throw him under the bus?
    It looked childish and petty at best.
    Hopes and Dreams are not actions, and his actions in the senate
    over the last two years show no sign of him being what he preaches about on the stump.
    Bad mouthing Clinton and her supporters will not get you their votes if you were to happen to win this, in fact I think you might just lose because of this effort.
    Mr Obama your hands are not clean comming out of SC, you pushed the narrative that the media was eating up and tried to make Clinton look like the bad guy (gal).
    I did not buy it nor do I think alot of Americans either, Kennedy's are not typical. Besides the whole family did not support you only two did.
    Stop telling us about your hopes and dreams and fairytales and give us the details of what you will really do, Clinton has, now it is your turn.
    Where's the BEEF?

    January 29, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. Randal, Birmingham, AL

    Rude Obama, very rude!!!
    He seems to be on cloud nine! He seems to think he is the king now after winning SC (backed by a HUGE HUGE African American vote ofcourse). I hope reality brings him to the ground on Feb 5th!!!
    Yeah Obama, just turn your backs on the world leaders too when you don't like them after you become the President. That will sure increase our reputation further across the world!! Grow up and learn some etiquette, please.

    January 29, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. dee

    Though the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee has proudly endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, we respect Sen. Kennedy's endorsement. We continue to encourage women everywhere to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote.

    This is what OBama is trying to change

    Americans should matter more than special interest

    Obama 08

    A Uniter

    not a special interest magnifyer

    Hillary needs all DEMS to become president

    January 29, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. stan pitts pa

    On the Senate Floor all last year Hillary Avoided Obama, i didnt see the out cry then, she treated him, like he was nothing, and she carried herself like the frontrunner, almost dismissing him as the competition!

    January 29, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. robert

    it does clearly prove what hillary has been saying...obama will do or say something and then turn around and say it wasn't true or that wasn't what he meant...fool me once shame on you...fool me twice shame on me....i'm voting for the package deal....billary08.....

    January 29, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Robert Bell

    More utter BS from the Hillary campaign. Obama is a bad man because a picture snapped by a photographer shows him with his back toward Hillary Clinton.

    Are these the "burning issues" the Clinton campaign wants us to focus on?

    THIS is the best they can get for "dirt" on Obama? Who in the Hillary campaign sat up all night reviewing photos and videos to find this? Why?

    In England, one should never turn their back on the Queen, and even leave the room walking backwards, in a bow, to show your respect to the soverign.

    However, this ain't England, and Hillary ain't the Queen.

    Hillybots, GET OVER IT!

    January 29, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Janice, Palo Alto CA

    Don't we have anything more interesting to worry about? Iraq, the economy, global warming, for examples? Not to mention in November that we either have to run against a guy who wants to escalate the war, a guy who changes his position every other week, or a creationist who makes an issue out of taking the skin off of fried chicken?

    January 29, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. Mary, Jacksonville, FL

    I can't believe I'm even wasting my time commenting on such silly nonsense created by the media. You all refer to yourselves as professionals – then get a life and act like professionals. It's absolutely stupid and childish reporting. Do you realize that there is a war in Iraq?

    January 29, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Steve

    Vince, I totally agree with you. Where the hell have arguments gone? And I'm saying that as Clinton supporter.

    January 29, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. Best Laid Plans

    It was all so perfect and well organized.
    First Arkansas followed by two terms in the White
    House. Then the move to NY and the election to the Senate.
    With a clear road ahead, you declare your candidacy for
    president. Then along comes Obama and the rural caucuses in Iowa.
    As he gains steam he attracts the attention of the Kennedys
    and your carefully designed matrix is suddenly jolted out of alignment.

    January 29, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. Al in Wpg


    You have the responsibility to pick the best person for the job, this is not American Idol. Grow the ef up. If America is not able to be mature enough to put careful thought into who they ellect, then America does not deserve the power and prosperity it has. You have earned your recession, keep it up and you will earn your depression.

    Seriously, grow up. accept your responsibility. Is this what your grandparents fought for?

    January 29, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. KAS

    Hillary Clinton is a disgrace to all women! To stand by Bill Clinton after he cheated her numerous times, to have her husband campaign for her because she can't stand on her own....who needs some pushy, fake excuse of a woman to be president? All you can do is trash Obama because Hillary lives a disgraceful life (lie) with Bill.

    January 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Alice in Florida

    He's a lying loser. Period. He looks more and more like Bush to me by the second.

    I find it hilarious that the Clinton attackers are now suddenly interested in "the issues." LOL – what issues has your crybaby Obama discussed? I'd be interested to know what he thinks about the issues myself if I were one of you, since nobody seems to be sure. All we know is that he is "for change." Maybe he's talking about his diaper. Who knows?

    My vote has already been cast. HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT!!!!

    January 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Tracy, Texas

    So, I guess I shouldn’t vote for Obama now because he may have accidentally or purposefully ignored Mrs. Clinton???

    Why is this even an issue? If he didn’t do it, so what; And if he did, so what? On the grand scheme of things, this little incident doesn’t hold a candle to the both implicit and explicit (or should I say accidental) snubs that the Clintons have thrown Obama's way. Which brings me to my last point, in light of all the dirty tricks they've thrown his way, I frankly wouldn’t be quick to acknowledge her presence either.

    January 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Don, Rochester, NY

    Thank you, CNN. For once, you are reporting something that happened between the candidates and just telling it like it is...that is your job and that is what we expect. THANK YOU!

    I have to be honest, I'm not so sure he snubbed her. I have said it before and I'll say it again. Barack Obama in all likelihood has a personality disorder. I would bet he turned away because he was mentally and emotionally UNABLE to greet her in a cordial manner. This simply reinforces what myself and others have said all along. If this were an isolated incident, fine. I wouldn't even bother to comment. It has happened in one way or another time and time again and it's time he's called out on it! America, is this what you want in a President? I certainly hope not.

    January 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Bryce

    To those saying it was just a picture. I saw the video.

    To Stan Pitts, PA
    I've seen you post here a lot in the past few weeks. You are a HATFUL person aren't you? I'm kida wondering why?

    Did Bill or Chelsey break into your house one night and kill your fish? I'm just wondering because people normally have to have a reason to hate that much and unless you know the Clintons personally I don't see how your opinion about them can possible be justified.

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

    ok....cnn.......lets stop all of the bull crap....there are more important issues than this stupid analysis.....

    find something worthwhile to talk about.........p l e a s e !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Eric, California

    This is disappointing! Maybe the "change" Obama should be more interested in is telling the truth when you've been caught instead of making excuses!

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

    I really don't understand... we are freaking out over a POSSIBLE snub... give me a break cnn and come up with something that matters, and since you are a news channel it shouldn't be hard...

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