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. Tammy

    OK. Enough is enough. I really wish we would stick to the important topics during this race. Who cares if he happened to turn his back when she walked up? We have all done that at some point in time and didn't realize until someone mentioned it. When you are surrounded by lots of people and everyone is trying to get your attention at the sametime, things like this happen. As often as the two are together at debates and interviews I am sure they are sick of each other anyway. Let's look at the issues not whether someone spoke to another person or not. That is so childish and something I expect my 10 year old to be worried about.

    January 29, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Natasha

    almost forgot I am one of those Democrats that did not hold disdain for Hilliary although I was supporting Barack, however her campaign tactics have turne me so far against her that if she gets the nomination I like many others will ultimately stay home. We are tired of deciding between the lesser of the two evils.

    January 29, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. nic

    I believe Obama. Besides, what does it matter? After all the dirt she's thrown in his direction, I wouldn't shake her hand either.

    January 29, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Youth Supporter

    Liars are caught when they give different excuses. Axelrod said something, Obama said something else. Whom should we believe?

    And of course, there is a huge gap on the right of Kennedy which means Obama snubbed Hillary, moved away, looked past McCaskill and then McCaskill tapped him to strike a conversation.

    The picture seen one by one prove that. Why is Obama lying?

    January 29, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. mike

    This is what's wrong with our country... We spend all of our time worrying about who shook hands with who like the election is a red carpet walk. Why is this a story? Why does it matter whether Clinton can cry? Just another E!Hollywood moment as we get more shallow by the minute.

    January 29, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. Dane Herndon

    Some people really need to understand how a person can practice his "front" so

    well that it takes one to know & recognize one. I've said in the beginning when

    Senator Obama through his hat in this race, that his front would show up. Boy,

    was that a knock on the door or what. Believe this FRONTER

    January 29, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. BRR

    6 months from now no one will care whether he snubbed her or not. There's an awful lot of hot air over this fluff topic.

    January 29, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. D-MT

    I am tired of hearing him talk already. He always has an excuse for everything he does, didn't do, has yet to do, or possibly do, etc. To hear him speak he doesn't make mistakes and walks on water. He has no lengthy political history to see how his ship would hold water, and I am tired of hearing him talk, talk, talk and make excuses. That's all he seems to be full of, talk, excuses, and now perhaps bad manners.

    January 29, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Dudley Fernandez

    It is unforntunate that we Americans need the Kennedy's, Kerry or anyone to tell us who to vote for and who inspires them. We are capable of making our own decisions and do need your endorsments.
    I would hope that all Senators, Unions and the news media would stop this garbage of endorsements. Let the voters make up their own mind on whom to vote for. Let DEMOCRACY work

    January 29, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. Brandon

    I think John G said it best at 3:51 ET. This is a total and complete non-issue.

    January 29, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. Susan, Denver, Co

    The fact is that Obama is a bag of hot air. The media loves the popularity contest and insecure politicians are jumping on the bandwagon so people think that they're "cool" too. All I can do is hope that that someone yells from the crowd that the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

    January 29, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. chris

    I second you vince...shame on you media

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

    This is how he treats his opponents. How will he treat other heads of state?

    January 29, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. Amy in Iowa

    More last minute dirty politics? Poor Hillary is the supposed victim again. What a gender play. Reminds me of the tears incident. The Clinton campaign is REALLY grasping at straws now.

    January 29, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. K

    I'm more an Obama supporter than a clinton supporter but on this one he's lying. be a man and say you didn't want to speak to clinton and tell us why. or say something like "i didn't see her", or "i didn't believe i should be smiling at a woman who hates me", or ... anything other than a lie. minus 1 point from obama. now i'm beginning to think how it's going to be like when he meets the president of iran, north korea or cuba.

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. Pat

    It seems to me that Senator Obama is engaging in Gender Baiting by calling Senator Clinton's trip to Florida a "Beauty Pageant".

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. Jason

    Who freaking cares? This is ridiculous.

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Brandon

    You cant be serious..... This is the most stupid piece of news I have ever seen on "the most trusted name in news." For all you idiots that say this is news, please do the country a favor and dont vote. If this in any way influences for opinion.....do not vote. For If this is what it takes to get the vote of anyone of you idots that even care about this... this coountry would be alot better if you stayed away from any voting booth..... "hey Im not going to vote for him cause he brushes his hair to the back, that must mean he is for higher taxes!!!!!!!!!!" Lord help us for we know not what we do!!!!

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. roberto

    Yeah yeah yeah!, just like 'Hilary your'e likeable enough' meant well....this is an insecure man who gives a good speech but is totally out of his depth!...but don't worry CNN's 'fair panel' of the channell 4 newsreader, the odious Cafferty and ms Borger[stick a B.O. button on your chest] will spin it as always....this bunch make O'Reilley and Hannity seem enlightened!!

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. Renee

    People are looking for anything to start confusing. People need to STOP, STOP because this is why our country is in a big MESS. Making something out of NOTHING, STUIPID, STUIPID

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Cindy Jacob

    If in fact Obama did not intend to snub Hillary but was turning away to speak with Claire McCaskill, nothing would have stopped him from later acknowledging Mrs. Clinton, now would have it?

    I expect my president to act presidential. Clearly, Hillary's presence made him uncomfortable.

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Terry

    Folks please....Let's stick to real issues.

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. PJ

    This is a nothing. Why do people make nothing into something. Who cares if he did snub her? How does that really matter? Welcome to tabloid news!

    January 29, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. E, Freiburg Germany

    If I may say, those whining about this "Rude Incident" need to get out more. I'm sorry, but when you go to a public gathering and sit for a while, you don't need to constantly engage in happy smiley conversation with everyone around you. Peel your eyes of a snapshot or short video clip! A lot more happens in 10 minutes than is portrayed by a little media-coverage.

    Am I rude, disrepectful and hate my wife because we don't actively engage in sappy conversation every second we're waiting when we sit down for a concert, church meeting, whatever, when we get there 30 minutes ahead of time??

    Come on people... Don't judge an event from one perspective... I don't hear Hillary complaining about being "Snubbed". It's a non-issue... life in an audience.

    "Good grief" – Charlie Brown

    January 29, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. Ashraf

    Its funny how the title of the link on the main page is "I didn't mean to snub Clinton", and the actual title on the Blog is " I didn't snub Clinton"

    One would think there is a big difference between the two. So what is it?
    Stop playing GAMES, CNN!!

    January 29, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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