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. Dem08

    I am a Hillary supporter. I did watch the State of the Union. Obama did snub Hillary. Now is this a story? For CNN. This is the same media hype crap that they have played on Clinton for months, derailing her campaign and causing much strife in the democratic party. Is it fair? No. However, one needs to take issue with Jessica Yellen and CNN for they way they report news. Yellen created much media hype last week when she mislead the public about Bill Clinton lashing out. This is only one example of CNN spinning stories. The more interesting fact here, is that Obama supporters who had no problem with the CNN love affair with Obama are up in arms over this. Why didn't you srceam out last week that we needed to talk issues.

    Obama is not king, yet. People have been nasty to Hillary, calling her everything under the sun. You were not talking issues then. Yellen is hypocritical on this story and so are Obama supporters who are outraged that their hero got caught engaging in bad behavior.

    You dont want to talk about issues really. If so, Clinton will trump Obama every time.

    January 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. m.

    This kind of coverage is National Enquireresque BS. The media obviously is looking for a cat fight and wants to promote one at every turn. Once again, CNN puts its best journalists out there to find a story filled with integrity. Pathetic.

    January 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  3. Robert

    Obama and the rest of the hysterical Obama followers are simply liars. He's a snob and he snubbed Hillary.
    Is he the "uppity" one now? If she had done this to him, how the so-called unbiased press would have crowed.
    It's time for the American people to start to snub this fake phenomena called Obama, and join together and elect the only capable democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Surely the average Americans as a group can defeat this biased press-core., who salivate at the name Obama.
    Rather they should read Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes".. Go Hillary!

    January 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. why

    If there ever was a question it should be, why did Hillary "HAVE" to speak to the person just in front of Obamma???????

    ........another snake move!

    January 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. robert

    john g wrote: January 29, 2008 3:51 pm ET

    It baffles the mind that anyone would give half a thought to this complete non-event. The only reason any of the sheep on here are debating the deeper meanings of a crowded room is because the media is telling you to. It's good to see the nation is in the hands of such informed and intelligent voters who truly will pick the best candidate based on factual, objective information……sigh.
    well john g...you sound like someone who voted for Bush – TWICE....so don't lecture anyone about how voters are supposed to be informed, intelligent, and pick candidates based on facts.......let's practice what we preach............

    January 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. JohnS

    Gosh, what people DO NOT understand about the Clintons is that they like to set people up for "awkward" situations, only to get snubby responses back, period!

    What Hillary did during the State of the Union address was to put Obama in such an awkward situation that the media would get DISTRACTED about Obama's wide sweep or win in SC.

    This style of relating to people is exactly WHY THE REPUBLICANS HATE the GUTS of the CLINTONS; I do not blame Clinton haters.

    For the UNEDUCATED, please read several BOOKS out there by prominent writers (e.g., KB), who know Hillary VERY WELL ,and have written extensively about her style of relating to people. Part of the problem with this NATION is that people simply DO NOT READ, PEOPLE DO NOT READ, PEOPLE DO NOT READ!!!!!! OMG!

    January 29, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Mitt Romney

    I have no idea why you ladies like Obama. Sources indicate he has a 'little' one.

    January 29, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. Lillian, Des Moines, IA

    Obama's always got an excuse for every tacky little thing he does. Oh, saying Reagan was "transcendant" didn't mean he was good; oh, saying the Republicans were the "party of ideas for the past 10 to 15 years" wasn't a slam at Bill Clinton.

    Get honest, Barack. And mean what you say, or pipe down!

    January 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Alex Smith

    Yeah right didn't look like she was even attempting to ask him a question. What was the question is a better question, he is just a whinning brat. GEt over your high horse. You have already flip flopped to the politices of now and now you have the politices of old in Ted Kennedy. Great speeches that motivate, but it stops there.

    January 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. AJ, IL

    Great Hillary and Obama got endorsements today!

    Obama got highly sought after Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, the person who gave the Democratic response after Bush's State of the Union address.

    Hillary got California Rep. Maxine Waters, named in 2005 and 2006 as one of the "most corrupt" members of congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

    Good endorsement Hillary. Heh Heh Heh!

    Obama in '08!

    January 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Laurie, Vancouver, Canada

    What is the essence of a man? Is he defined by his moments of glory and success, when in full flight he seems immortal, capable of the improbable? Or, is he defined by those split-second moments, when his inhumanity illustrates his colder heart, turning a shoulder when a hand of friendship is extended by a foe? Twice now, Barack Obama has revealed that he may not be all he seems. Earlier this month, his snide remark that Hilary was 'likeable enough' during the New Hampshire debate sowed a seed of doubt about his true nature in many voters' minds. Yesterday, in blanking Senator Clinton as she greeted Senator Kennedy, he fed those doubts. One senses that Obama is only confortable when he is holding court over those who idolise him. But Americans require more of their future President, epecially one who claims to be a unifier. Obama, I fear, will fall short of what is required.

    January 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Kyle

    This is newsworthy? Really? Come on. It's really getting ridiculous.

    January 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  13. Mae

    If you watched the state of address last evening, it was apparent that BO turned your back on Mrs. Clinton, but that' s okay, BO just own it stop always saying that you did not mean any harm.

    January 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. nathan

    How is this a snub when Hillary was talking to......Kennedy not Obama?? It isn't. Did she try to talk to Obama? No. They had already waved at each other in greeting. So why should Obama stand there and listen in while Kennedy and Hillary talk? He shouldn't. That would have been a little awkward considering what had happened earlier in the day.

    The Hillary people are grasping at straws. This is not a story.

    January 29, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Come on

    Give me a real issue that is worth being in the news... come on a POSSIBLE sunb... I just had first graders today that gave me better news than this CNN!

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

    Sure looks like a solid snub. Not very grown-up – in my eyes.

    January 29, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Most of you are idiots.

    This is irrelevant.

    January 29, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. ramno

    all those people saying it's no big deal , imagine this. if the headline were to say
    "Hillary snubbed Obama", the whole media would have gone crazy with blaming Clintons of racists. The same rule should apply to both

    January 29, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. Natasha

    OMG – Are we serious? This has been all over the news and online media sites and I think the fact that everyone ismaking an issue of it is absolutely childish. He did not intentionally turn away from her (that would be foolish knowing that all of the world is watching the two of you. Let's at least give him that much credit for being intelligent).

    There is not a one of us that has not missed someone saying something to us, or turned just as someone was moving in. Have none of us ever waved at someone and missed thier attention (only to move our hand back down lest anyone notice lol).

    It is not like Hillary was coming over to him, she was shaking hands with Ted Kennedy. If he had stayed and hovered at that moment the media would have turned it into him lording his big endorsement over her. People come on we have a presidential race that is set to historically change our nation – Let;s focus on the issues.

    If we want to make an issue why is not more being made of the fact the Clinton PR machine is set to spin her win in uncontested Florida today. I voted in today's primary for Barack and even though I made my mind up weeks ago who I was voting for many of my co-workers were still torn. Ultimately many people looked at the way Hillary is now speaking out on Florida and rather then rallying behind her actually feel she is exposing her much talked about character flaws. Many of those I know said they wanted a President that "can keep a promise". Making all this hoopla about Florida mught as well been campainging (sp much for her pledge). Should the nomination come down to the convention it would be wrong to seat eith Michigan or Florida's delegates to decide on the nomination sice the rules did not allow an even playing field.

    Well back to lurking – thanks for reading my two cents.

    January 29, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Charles

    Obama is not ready to be President. He is a good talker and very inexperienced to lead this great nation. He does not have a good grasp of the issues as Hillary does. I will vote for Hillary and I hope this Obama guy is stopped before we committ another unpardonable sin of electing a buffon to the White House.
    The incdent yesterday is proof that this Obama guy is a child.
    So much for unity.

    January 29, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Tatiana

    Woah, why does the ticker say "I didn't mean to snub Clinton" on CNN's main page and "I didn't snub Clinton" here? CNN, what is going on?

    The gal who broke this amazing story, Jessica Yellin, was the one who started something awhile back with Bill Clinton right? Smearing him in order to make a good story, something like that? Well, Jessica Yellin is retarded and so are you CNN. Stop this nonsense right now or I'm watching MSNBC. Chrissss Maaathews where you at

    January 29, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Ito, Yokosuka Japan

    I wouldn't shake that woman's hand either. How can she play nasty politics and then run around shaking people's hand as if what she does on the campaign trail stays on the campaign trail. She is a pure hypocrite.

    You should not be able to run around making a fool of yourself and spitting venom at other candidates, then go back to the house and pretend everything is warm and cozy.


    It seem politicians do this all the time. They fight and make a mockery of our political system, then go back to work like nothing happened. If you are going to be civil in the chamber, you aught to feel an obligation to be civil on the campaign trail...otherwise you are just a hypocrite.

    Obama was right to snub her. She should be snubbed by everyone in that chamber.

    January 29, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. Pinga


    January 29, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Jack in MA

    Obama, I thought you were an inclusive leader? I dont want you teaching our kids these kinds of manner as much as I dont want you teaching how to smoke POTS!

    January 29, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. Hillbilly for Hillbilly

    As a Hillary supporter, I do not hate Obama so much as relish the opportunities to laugh at his gaffes. It's funny to see how the man who claimed he would run an uplifting campaign could not resist the chance to act like a typical politician. But I don't hate him for it, because he is a politician just like everyone else–the kind of politician that he said he would not be. Maybe he was too quick to make that claim, or too naive.
    I do not hate Obama, but I cannot stand some of his supporters who seem to be supporting him only because they hate Hillary Clinton for some personal reasons or supposed scandals that could not be proven. They are the ones who start their post off sounding reasonable, then all of a sudden call Hillary a "beast". And no one bats an eye. But if someone starts calling Obama a monster there would be loud cries of racism.
    Someone calls Obama a liar and people start writing Hillary off because her supporters are hateful. Have you been blindfolded? This is NOTHING compared to the treatment Hillary has been getting. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but your man is not perfect.

    January 29, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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