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. N.King - Lake Jackson, TX

    The absolutely perfect example of the media gone bad! WHAT is WRONG with you people? We're trying to sort through a political maze and you are nit-picking the crap out of NOTHING! GROW UP!! And PLEASE – try to be more professional – geez!!

    January 29, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. Matthew G. Saroff

    Well, it's better than the Republicans, who are arguing about skin on chicken.

    January 29, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Nancy

    Here he goes again! "I didn't do it"! WHAT??? He needs to pratice another response. This one is getting very tiring. One is these days more people will pay attention to what he says and doesn't say. What he is unabe to say is why we need 'not' to let this man in the White House or we will have another inexperienced President. Is this really what people want. I know it's tempting to have a really new experience, but come on, John Edwards has more experience and he is running 3rd.
    The American people seem to get side tracted emotionally with things and that's when we end up screwed. Look, We got screwed with 2 bushes and it hurt! Is it that we like to complain about our mistakes without remembering that we reep what we sow.
    I have been out of school for a very long time. But when I was in school we leaned that "ILLEGAL" was bad and that you could go to jail. What part of that word doesn't our politicians know?

    January 29, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Kiki

    Hillary supporters:

    Your time will come when the Obama supporters gloat. If Hillary gets in the White house, we can guarantee Bill having more affairs, and the Clintons getting richer from their interests in Dubai. I wonder where Hillary will stand where the war in Iraq is concerned if she has to choose between fattening her and Slick Willy's bank account, or ordering that the troops be brought home?? Hmmmmm, decisions, decisions...

    January 29, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. wER

    You know why we had 8 years of Bush aka chimp-boy?? People let stupid fabricated stories like this influence them someway. Remember "I want to vote for someone I'd like to have a beer with"??

    How about this radical thought – Let the actual statements by the candidates regarding foreign and domestic policy determine who to vote for instead of this trash

    HEY CNN – YOU are perpetuating this trash! Write real stories or SHUT UP!!

    January 29, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. twan

    this is the saddest news reporting I've seen in my life.

    Is this all the media's got against Obama?

    After all, only the media will make this news..I wonder who they are secretly wanting to win.

    So, what..he didn't shake her hand...I've been so mad at the Clintons I don't think even I could look them in the eye.

    Only a hypocrite can smile and shake your hand and at the same time...."distort your words" and try to ruin your chances of becoming President.


    January 29, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. scgail

    We certainly do need change in this country. Read all this discourse.
    But it is clear that Sen. Obama turned his back and then Sen. McCaskill rescued him by asking him a question. Okay, fine that is not earthshaking but just admit that he did it and move on.
    As for as I have read or heard Sen Clinton had not made anything out of the incident. She knows that the minute she says anything it will be misconstrued. See examples above particularly Jennifer Lee who sees a whole conspiracy that Sen Clinton staged this.
    This cannot compete with our poor economy and the many issues the candidates need to address. All of them need to stop attacking one another and discuss HOW they can implement the needed changes.
    I am proud to support HRC

    January 29, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Mel

    This is another example of a reporter who doesn't have the IQ to report something more substantial.

    January 29, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. Martin

    Iraq? Who cares. The economy? Boring. Immigration? So what. This issue is much more important.

    January 29, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. tracy

    So proud to be an Obama supporter when this is the "negative" that the media is running with on Obama. Come on people this is a silly, contrived story with the only possible out come being to forget about the issues of the campaign.

    Media must be bored after the fun times Bill gave them last week so now they are looking for something that just is not there with Obama.

    January 29, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. Dan

    I can't believe that voters actually change their minds because of what the Media says. Stupid people whould not vote.

    January 29, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. Mike818

    Has anyone been looking on cnn and seeing whats going on in kenya with all the killings...lets not forget he(obama) has 50% genes from his father which is from kenya. I believe this shouldn't be a black or white campaign ...and its not, and it should be a kenya citizen and an American campaign. I think his foreign policy should scare Americans, because his going to send Aid to Kenya and other countries.

    January 29, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Tou

    What kind of news is this? Ridiculous. Can we please have some content?

    January 29, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Eva

    Yeah right. Lame attempt at recovery, Obama. I saw the footage, and you did snub her, in that imature signature way of yours. If you're not whining, you're ignoring. Grow up!

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Mike

    You people are still looking for a reason not to vote for OBAMA!

    Get over it!! Don't vote for Him. But please stop with the stupid reasons for not voting for him and why you are supporting BILLARY!!

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. James V. Cater

    Obama and McCaskill are not talking in the picture. Obama is watching Mrs. Clinton, out of the corner of his right eye, to see when she moves on. He does not tell the truth and all of the news media need to look into his backround as cloce as they have looked into the Clinton's. The news media has interjected race into the campaign and all day, today, have been attempting to pit Black voters against Hispanic. Who owns the media networks? They are Republicans and their ilk benefit from dividing the Democrats.

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Myk

    Guess like they say, some people will say and do anything to be elected. How could this be an issue. that BO has no right to turn around. HRC did not say she was trying to talk to BO so why the big deal. Why would HC go over OB, ignoring him to greet someone and yet he is expected sit back and applaud them.
    Like Ghandi said "first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you then you win. And that's what is going to happen. the Clintons are running scared.

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. jean

    State of the Union Address last night
    The snub to Hillary from Obama reminded me of a small child who is angry and going to pout because she was mean to him. Hopefully we will put an adult in as the president next Nov.

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  19. Sue

    For all those people insisting that this is irrelevant.....not important...etc, etc.....
    Then what do you think it's important? I believe this is VERY VERY important for a President, who needs to unite the country.
    Think VERY VERY CAREFULLY before you vote! Your decision is for a LONG LONG 8 years...............

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  20. Amand Wright

    All the Billary-supporting boneheads have is a picture. They know America clearly sees Billary a deceitful dirtbags and as a Bush Jr. clone. They know Obama has all the answers and they're desperately hoping a picture will win it for them. Billary's even stealing Obama's words(unitiy, youth, etc.), positions(We've always been against Iraq), and mannerisms on stage. Billary's as vile and contemptible as Bush Jr. and Karl Rove. Vote for a real leader and real change – vote Obama.

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. John

    Obama definitely snubbed Hillary. This man is not a uniter, he is divider.

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. Truth Anyone?

    The photo doesn't tell the whole story. I saw it live and a snub it was. How immature. Hillary has my vote.

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Texas

    Go Obama!

    Love that whitey political correctness..
    Can't wait until you are president and GIVE ALL OF WHITEY's MONEY TO SOUTH AFRICA and pay the whites back....

    See his racist church affilates and really make HIM RESPOND to the tough questions (Mr. OBAMA DO YOU THINK IF YOU WERE WHITE AND HAD THESE RACIST AFFILATES, WOULD YOU BE ALLOWED TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT?)

    Political correctness, gotta love it!

    January 29, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. Kathy

    I am dismayed at the Democratic Party that the party that protest that every vote counts and you take away two states right to send delegates to have a say in the democratic nomonie. I live in Washington state and feel like my vote doesn.t matter why don't we all vote on the same day so that every vote in all states have equal say. I don't blame states trying to move and have an equal say in the democratic election be apart deciding who the Democratic or Republican presidential nominie.

    January 29, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. ps

    O B A M A

    Go back to Kennya where your route belongs. You don't belong to civilized nation like USA

    January 29, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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