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. Definitely Hillary

    Hillary shows her strength on that picture (imagine, after SC primary and endorsements of her rival!)
    Obama shows his lack of strength and lack of courtesy.
    No explanation needed.

    Definitely Hillary!

    January 29, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. Jessi, Fl

    Allowing insignificant moments like this become big news stories is the equivalent of judging a candidate's policy from ten second soundbites. It's irresponsible to use this snapshot as a way to judge a candidate's character. Regardless of whether Obama was snubbing Clinton because he dislikes her, or instead simply felt the awkwardness of Clinton meeting Kennedy the day after he endorsed Obama over her, this shouldn't be a highlight of the primary season. I will be truly disappointed if this trivial instance plays a role in anyone's decision about the election.

    January 29, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Tracey

    I find something interesting....I feel like this campaign had more credibility and was much more interesting before Obama won Iowa. Ever since it has been smear tactics and full-speed-ahead underhanded politics from the Clinton campaign, which in turn Obama has to react to because he's probably advised to do so, so the back and forth never ends.

    Obama should have stopped responding to Hillary's mess after that crying episode. Even with the race card thing, he should have ignored it. After Iowa her campaign realized he really had a chance and have not stopped since trying to distract Americans from the actual campaign issues. And CNN is not helping at all by perpetuating petty articles like this.

    And technically, to snub someone they would have to extend their hand first, which she did not, so WHY is this even a subject line on the ticker?

    January 29, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. 18, white, male

    Yeah, yeah. And OJ was innocent. OH NO! I compared Obama to another black man, I'm racially insensitive. Seriously though, why is this even news? But why is it when CNN actually put an article that may be in the slightest bit negative to Obama, it's a smear campaign. Yet almost every other article involved with these two are bashing Clinton.

    January 29, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Michael


    But he didn't really mean to snub her. And the different spin stories coming from his camp prove it.

    1. I was giving Kennedy and Clinton a moment to themselves.
    2. No wait, that's not what I meant. What happened was it was just an accidental gaze away at that exact moment.
    3. Wait, what I meant to say was that I was answering a question from McCaskill.

    I'm sure he didn't mean to snub her, after all "she's likeable enough."

    January 29, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. Kate

    Sen. McCaskill doesn't look like she just posed a question...

    January 29, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. Drew

    Why is this news?! This is juvenile! Surely people don't actually care about this garbage!

    January 29, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. Tam/Stone Mountain

    Hey, wrong picture CNN???. The one with Obama sitting next to Kennedy and Hillary reaching to shake the hand of Kennedy. CNN you should be ashamed!!!!

    January 29, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. J Lee

    Lies, all lies!!! All he does is bash the Clintons and act like a victim. I don't see any inspiration, Demo need to be untied, I am still for Hillary!!!

    January 29, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. Independent Voice

    YUP – WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE?????????



    January 29, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Denise

    CNN this is a non-issue. Surely there must be something more important and substantive that you can report on.

    January 29, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. Adam - Milwaukee, WI

    I'm quite disappointed that the MEDIA is making this a story. My God CNN you love looking for stories...how unprofessional. If you wouldn't have reported on this, I doubt that either candidate would have even thought twice about this. I'm for Obama, but this story proves how the media tries to control every aspect. This isn't TMZ...its CNN.

    One more thing.. I see a lot of hatred and mean comments flying between the supporters of the two candidates.....me included at times. This has to stop! We are democrats/liberals and want the country not be polarized nation anymore. We should think before...we the people…start ripping on either one.


    January 29, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. Christy

    how stupid and how dumb that this is becoming a issue... CNN should be ashamed!!!

    January 29, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. judy

    Amazing dialogue. If you were not there, do not comment. One frame of a photo does not tell the story.

    Barack should be polite? Barack is lying? Barack is a wolf in sheep's clothing?

    Please! Hillary and Bill have spent weeks lying and distorting Senator Obama's record and positions on the issues that face us. Hillary is in sheep's clothing while Bill is the wolf who attacks. People! Do your homework!

    January 29, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Dave

    Obama definitely ignored Hillary, he is too immature to become our next president.
    I believe we are all above being fooled by you.

    Obama you made things crystal clear for me.

    Go Hillary!

    January 29, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. nannette

    Maybe Mr. Obama was concerned as where President's Clinton hands had been. After all, Hillary is probably holding Bill's hand alot these days. What he touches, she touches! We certainly need a sense of humor in all of this.

    How about Bush looking into Putin's heart? What about Bush holding the Saudi Prince's hand? Do we really want a rerun of THAT!!


    January 29, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. goldeneye

    Are they in high-school? Is this TMZ or CNN??? Who cares? America is facing a recession, and among other 3 trillion things going on.....Focus on the I-S-S-U-E-S!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Obama, once again, has indicated his disdain for women. He has never fought for women, their rights, or their needs. review his facial gestures and body language in various debates when Hillary is speaking. He is always warmer and more respectful to men.

    As a male who has worked for equal rights for the women I believe in and work with, starting with the ERA in the 1970s, I find Obama a horrible option. McCain is better than Obama.

    January 29, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. Scott, Royal Oak, MI

    Much more "newsworthy" with regard to Clinton/Obama interaction last night is this, found on "The Hill" this morning:

    "In one instance Clinton appeared to gauge Obama’s response before showing her own.

    When Bush warned the Iranian government that “America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf” Obama jumped up to applaud. Clinton leaned across Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), seated to her left, to look in Obama’s direction before slowly standing.

    Now that's the kind of bold leadership we need in a president! Watch someone else and follow whatever they do!

    January 29, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. NOT funny

    Hey CNN-
    What is your true agenda and why would you post this kind of trash?

    January 29, 2008 4:07 pm ET
    I have no idea why you ladies like Obama. Sources indicate he has a 'little' one.

    This person is obviously a nut , what's your excuse?

    January 29, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. tracey

    We're not twelve years old as Steve Clemmons has suggested...but Obama sure seems to be acting that age!

    January 29, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. Rosemary

    I'll repeat what a previous writer said - THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE.

    Like words, you can make a photo say anything you want it to say.

    If Sen. Clinton was trying to get the attention of Sen. Kennedy, why would Sen. Obama respond?

    January 29, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Ann Kuminns

    Can we get off all this stupidity and focus on what is best for our country?? shouldn't we be asking all candidates the tough questions about what they can and will do for us and our country, rather than trying to read what is not there?? No wonde this country is not moving ahead – we are paying too much attention on what's unimportant and not focusing on the tough road ahead. Let's talk about jobs, health care, vets, education and not try to put a thousand words on a non-existance. The media has to take a large portion of the blame as they are milking everything (in fact, dishonesty and misrepresentation!) they can just to get the ratings. Let us get to the real substance.

    January 29, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  24. Mariah

    I am going to play the "devil's advocate" concerning the Democratic party's primaries and the media. The fight is not about race and gender as it is being portrayed by the news media. It is a coverup for the major split in the Democratic
    party for the heart and soul of the party between the Liberal and Centrist factions.
    Remember truth can be stranger than fiction.

    January 29, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  25. tami

    Bravo CNN for sticking to the issues...NOT.

    January 29, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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