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. Getalife

    Who Cares!!!! So what...Stop trying to critique his every move...Stop fearing CHANGE!!!

    January 29, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. arvind chhabra


    January 29, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Mike

    I don't know why Obama just won't acknowledge that he turned away. Sen. McCaskill obviously didn't ask him any question. Now, can I really believe him that he can unite the country? He seems to have lied about this incident so he can look nice.

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. John

    hillary is the one for president. she will get things done , she the experience, obama does not have what it takes to run as president of these united states.

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. Joe C

    Thank you, CNN, and the general news media for distracting us once again from the fact our country is heading down the drain, our current leader is so incompetent that he is giving out money to keep us from revolting, and making it THAT much harder to actually read about NEWS. This entire election has been turned into the "What was Britney Thinking?" media tag line. Come on and give us some real news, like the Democrats being snubbed in Florida, REAL facts about our failing economy, any concrete plans on ending the war. Something. Anything. But once again I look at the front page and the only thing that really has a headline is a misinterpretation of a paparazzi photo. Shame on you for feeding this garbage to us and raising yet another generation of sheep.

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Nate

    So what if he did. after "fairytale" and "false hopes" I'd snub her too.

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. ChrisB GA

    Did someone just compare Clinton to an international dignitary?

    They must be cringing right now at the comparison.

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. SunGod

    Ted Kennedy’s support to Obama may boomerang. If he supported Hillary it would have been taken in the stride. No one would have stopped to think about Ted K. But now with this strange twist people would start thinking who this Ted Kennedy is and recapitulate all his misdeeds and foils. They will realize that all his Credentials are that he happened to be a Brother! It is also amusing that Caroline non-chalantly declared the reason she declared her support to Obama is that her daughter voting first time is fascinated by Obama and declared she is voting for him!! Good reason.

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Rex

    Obama came across "Immature" and "Childish" last night. Its sad that Ted Kennedy would abuse his family name to equate Obama with JFK. JFK was charming, intelligent, mature and ready to lead. Obama, I am sorry, is NOT.

    I see this pattern over and pver again about his immaturity. his famous comment "Hillary, you are likeable enough" to his pouting and sombre look after the New Hampshire primary are reflections of a very young and immature individual. And I am no ways ready to hand over the state of the union to him. Have we all forgotten the big gamble that US took with George Bush?

    Why do we need motivational speeched and inspiration from a candidate? Are we all doomed? Are we not intelligent enough to self motivate ourselves?

    Lets be fair to Hillary and stop this Hillary and Bill Hate campaign by the media !!! Give her due where it counts !!!

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. Marie

    CNN - catty non-news network. Is this what the media consultants tell you we want to read abotut?

    Can you use some of this cyberspace for discussion of issues instead?

    January 29, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Bryce

    anon January 29, 2008 5:13 pm ET

    "Hillary and Bill Clinton are the most polarizing figures in American politics today. They turned the entire Conservative half of the country against them in the 90s. And they turned half of the Democratic Party against them in this Primary. Tell me how Hillary Clinton plans to win the General election when only 25% of the country would vote for her under any circumstances?"

    Anon –

    Current national polls show HRC in the lead by 17 points.....

    Kinda makes what you just wrote sound... Misinformed.

    January 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. W

    This is not the first or even the second time Obama has been rude to the other candidates. Sure we all were taken aback by his condescending remark to Hillary that she is "likable enough"...did others notice when he walked out at the beginning of that debate he strolled out like he was the big man on campus...totally snubbed Edwards and the moderator? Edwards, first to walk out, pleasantly greeted the moderator; Hillary who came out last, warmly greeted her competitors and the moderator. But no...not Obama...oh, but he's so wonderful we should all just be in awe of him and ignore that he treats other people like dirt.

    January 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. Proud Liberal

    Wow, Obama 'snubs' Billary, I mean Hillary, but NO ONE said anything about the Clintons running out of South Carolina even before the polls closed on Saturday. While they were counting votes on Saturday, Hill was in another state acting as if there was not a primary. So she snubs a whole state and not one word! And how many of us have been in a crowded room and not actively sought out colleagues, let alone people who with reckless abandon seek to minimize your very importance? Let's be real and adults people!

    January 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. TK

    Is there end to this stupidity? Why is this an issue? Had he shook Hillary's hand the media would be spinning it as "Obama gloating over Clinton." After a day like yesterday, no matter what he did would have somehow rubbed wrong the media or the Hillary supporters. My message to both: get a life!

    January 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Bill

    Honestly who cares... who would want to shake Hillary's hand anyways...? Not I, give the guy a freakin' break, stop overanalayzing every single thing someone does... if we wanted to do that I'm sure we could find tons of things wrong with every person in the world

    January 29, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. annette powe

    I am not a clinton supporter, but just giving her some credit, I do think clinton has far more reaching/important things on her mind/agenda. I certainly think this is just Media gobblie -gook.
    My suggestion would be to cut this 24hr so -call up to the minute,balanced news to maybe 4hours a day, maybe we could get more legit news coverage.
    As we try to get to important things,such as the economy rolling in the right direction,education agenda,health insurance, social security, security,greenliving, etc; ( do you get the point?). Otherwise stop calling yourselves journalists, and media experts, better you just call yourselves trouble makers or crap-shooters.

    January 29, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Julia

    You or the media are making a mountain out of a molehill. You want to discredit Obama, so anything you can find that seems display him in a negative light, you will. This is one of the reasons why you can't get good people to run for high office. You shed a person to pieces until no one wants to be put out to dry.

    Be positive. Everything is not always as it seems.

    January 29, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. stan pitts pa

    Bush never snobbed obama, they never came close, he did ignore HRC tho, get your facts right!

    January 29, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. Proud Liberal

    Well, if he snubbed her, she'd cry...so it must not have been too bad!

    January 29, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. malaika

    Please let us stop behaving like kids and focus on the real issue. I love both of the candidates. History is in the making!

    January 29, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Your Daddy

    PS - Speaking of stupid, it's too bad the Democratic Party decided to punish MI and FL by forbidding its delegates to cast votes there after the state moved to primary dates without the Big Machine's permission.

    MI and FL aren't important enough to campaign in? STUPID move, Democratic Party! Why don't the Demos just conceed those states now to the GOP! FL has never been important to the Democrats in a national election anyway... uh.. wait a minute, Gore v. Bush in 2000 I guess.

    January 29, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. DEPP

    Nobody blame CNN.

    This "snubbing" news is all over the internet , news channels and will be all over tomorrows newspaper.

    Its never obamas fault huh? . He clearly intended to snub her. Why lie?

    hilary 08

    January 29, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. gggrrr

    Obama how can you become president when you are not man enough to face a woman and shake her hand in public. You are indecent. I won't vote for you. Is this how you treat the ladies around you. I hope you are treating your wife well even if she disagrees with you on some occasion.

    January 29, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. John

    Barack Obama 2008: I did not snub Clinton

    Bill Clinton 1992: I did not inhale

    January 29, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. Nathan,

    This story is important because Obama is running on changing the atmosphere and bringing civility to Washington. Do you actually believe that he would have done that to another man. At the very least he would have acknowledged his presence. The digust on his face was obvious when she came over. All woman should be ofended by his actions. I think it said a lot about Hillary to go over and shake that turncoat Kennedy's hand. She was gracious enough to allow him to disagree with her without being disagreeable. How would Obama react in the onslaught that would come from the Republicans in the general election if he gets the nomination? What the Clintons and Obama have gone thru is nothing compared to what Bush and his people did to Kerry. Is this how he's going to react with world leaders he disagrees with?

    January 29, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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