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. Liam

    Was Hillary in the group. Did she approach Senator Obama and offer her hand. Of course not, so why is she not being accused of snubbing Senator Obama. What is Hillary; a strong independent woman who sticks her hand out to thousands of people each day, or some timid Victorian era maiden who must wait on the gentleman to call.

    Looks like a lot of Clintonites are trying to build a feminist bridge back to the eighteenth century.

    January 29, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. ke, GA

    Ruuuuuuuude. This is the same guy who says he will bring in Republicans (ouch!) and Independents to vote for Dem. He even can't shake hand with his colleague. Leader?

    P.S. We know why the Republicans are voting for Obama....don't we? November is approaching.

    January 29, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Nap time... Cookies later.

    "I didn't have snubbing relations with that woman"

    January 29, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Ray

    There are pics and play by play by people around him and the people who took the pics. Come on dude..grow up.!!!!

    January 29, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. California voter

    Obama can try and spin this one as much as he wants. Each of us can make our own conclusions using our own eyes and heads. To me it's just a continuation of a pattern that he is not really the uniter he says he is. Look at the Trinity Church of Christ website (his church) which has now been updated by the campaign to include a u-tube testimony of a white minister to show that the church he goes to is not separatist. Sounds like more of smack down Chicago politics to me.

    January 29, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. Sue

    America needs a President, who can unite all people....NOT a KID!

    January 29, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. DC, SD

    like John17 says.....you snubbed her. Why can't you be honest about it?

    January 29, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. Matt

    Until they can show it on tape, why would you believe this so-called snub ever took place?

    Yellin may not have seen Clair ask the question that caused Barack to turn, and instead saw the conversation that took place afterwards. Both Hillary and Obama had to know that cameras would be on them as they made their rounds, so why would anyone believe either of them would've been dumb enough to do something that would been like an obvious snub?

    They're too smart for that. Unfortunately, a lot of people aren't smart enough to avoid letting the media blow things up for them.

    January 29, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. CJ, Albany, NY

    Just as I thought..as usual the picture that everyone was getting all hyped up about dosn't even tell the real story. That picture was a single moment in time, and the mediawants to spin it in all directions saying "O it means this, or this or this!". From the looks of it Obama was talking to McCaskill, while right behind him Clinton came over to shake Kennedy's hand...what's all the uproar about????????

    OBAMA '08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. joe




    HILLARY 08...

    January 29, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. John, CT

    Who cares!?!?!?

    January 29, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. D.G.

    Since Hillary Clinton's supporters hate Obama so much, I don't feel I should vote for Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination.

    I know she is going to win the nomination because I can feel the hatred for Obama. That's a shame that her supporters are as nasty as she is.

    I am not going to vote for Hillary Clinton in November. I hope McCain kicks her big wide butt.

    January 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Tom, PA

    O B Quiet obama

    January 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Mike

    Thats so immature he is. He even never call to Hillary when she won NH and Nevada. On his speech in NH, he just said I congratulated her.... It was so different when he won, Hillary said on her speech, I called Obama to....

    January 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  15. BCNU purple state, usa

    That explanation of his is a LOT more plausible than many I've heard out of the Clinons for years and years concerning their numerous scandals.

    January 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. DJ, Philadelphia

    This pic demonstrates that both Obama and McCaskill have lied.

    January 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. Dave

    Quoting Bob (above):

    "Once again Obama does something arguably unbecoming and he claims he was misunderstood or that there was something else behind it. This reminds me of his "Hillary you're likeable enough" comment at the debate. Why isn't what Obama says and does subject to same attacks when Hillary (or Bill) does something?"

    You capture the dilemma so succinctly, why is it that Obama is always having to explain what he does or says? I've had it with a President and his staff always having to dismiss conduct and what he says... with Obama are we going to have 4 or 8 years of what we just went through with Mr. Bush?

    I believe all the hair-splitting and explaining he has to do whenever someone brings up his record reminds me all too much of what W. Bush has subjected us to these past 8 years. I for one am fed-up with it.

    January 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. Tim

    What happened to our uniter? He didn't even have the courtesy to shake hands with his opponent. It becomes clear that he is a liar instead of a uniter when he "accidentally" got caught... Of course, he is again misundertood and he is the victim of the camera...

    January 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. dan

    anyone who dares criticize st barack is clearly a pagan and deserves to be burned at the stake. long live the cult!

    but in all seriousness, despite the silliness of the argument it's refreshing to see an article not 100% pro obama from the msm.

    January 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. Cindy

    Liar, liar, pants on fire!!!

    January 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  21. JAB

    Wow Mr. Obama – you need to get your story straight – you and Senator McCaskill – she tells a different story as does one your own people that said you were snubbing the past – not Hillary. Where is this CHANGE you have been talking about? Just talk right?

    January 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. No more Clinton Doublespeak

    And so what if he did. He had talked to earlier before he was seated. Does he need to fall all over her every time he sees her.
    Please stop this CRAP CNN and try some issue based stories.

    January 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. Ike

    Who cares!?

    January 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. CMA

    This article is trying to make something out of nothing. Purely ridiculous. I am by no means a Hillary or Obama supporter...not even close

    January 29, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. New York City

    Why is CNN making such a big deal about this? Who cares whether they spoke or not. Don't you think that Sen. Clinton's campaign have done enough to make anyone not want to speak to them? Cheap shot, CNN. Why don't you just ask her to start crying again? This way, maybe she'll win Florida. They both mean as much as the delegates she'll receive.

    January 29, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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