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. joy

    economy--obama you can't handle this,
    hillary can handle this.

    foreign policy
    --obama you can't handle this,
    hillary can handle this.

    --obama you can't handle this,
    hillary can handle this.

    January 29, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. sam

    I do not believe him, nor his purchase of a 3/4 of a million dollar house for 300,000 from an indicted Chicago Crook was just an accident. This man is corrupt.

    January 29, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Don

    How is it that you can take Barack's bad behavior and blame it on Hillary. Also, anyone who supports Clinton is not beaten down over SC. I live in SC. We never expected to win here after the media distorted the Clinton Camapign's message. Hillary has always been respectful of Obama, as she was last night when she tried to be gracious. Hillary Clinton is not the monster you people make her out to be and Obama is not the God you all want to worship. He will never be another JFK. Its amzing how Obama supporters want to compare Obama and JFK. JFK was also cheating on his wide while in the White House. You guys would have hung him out to dry today.

    Hilary Clinton will win the nomination because she has the best plan for the American people, all of them, even the ones who do not like her. She has proven for years that she can walk the walk and talk the talk.

    That said, I like Obama, but feel that he needs some time. Its showing more and more that he is not prepared to be the canidate of change. If he wants to move forward, why jump in bed with a Kennedy, who many know to be one of the most divisive politicians in our history.

    January 29, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  4. Amy, Kazoo

    Does everyone remember what was being said here when Clinton "cried" (ie. showed emotion) in NH? The Obama supporters were calling it proof that she wouldn't be able to handle the tough road ahead and the problems that would come her way in the White House. The critics said it was a plant and that it was an act.

    My point is each side is going to paint each report to their advantage. Clinton supporters here will site this "snub" as evidence that Obama is not the uniter he claims to be. (i tend to believe that but that's neither here nor there...) Obama supporters are calling BS on CNN, saying this is not newsworthy and that if any person uses this to help them determine who to support, they're essentially an idiot.

    There's name calling on both sides, accusations are flying, people are getting on their soap boxes....all the more proof to me that both Obama and Clinton have already divided their party, that people who call themselves democrats are carrying on this negative, nasty fight on their own. In the end, it wouldn't matter if Clinton and Obama walked through the rest of this race holding hands and singing camp fire songs. We're all going to find something to complain about regarding each of them.

    January 29, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  5. Bob

    I suppose most of you have forgotten Hillary really did snub Obama last year in the Senate chamber right after he announced he was running for President - this was about a year ago. He reached out to shake her hand and she walked away. It was hardly noticed in the media. Double standards indeed.

    January 29, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. Alice

    Good point Robert

    Come to think of it, why ISN'T Al Sharpton getting into the fray? He usually can't keep his nose out of supposed racial slurs. Could it be he makes African-Americans look like idiots over and over again?

    Then again, the crybaby doesn't need any help being made to look like an idiot. Idiocy rules in Obamaland. All his frantic followers' illiterate postings are proof of that.

    January 29, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. Happy Conservative

    Are Hillary's feelings hurt again? He was trying to be polite by allowing Hill and Ted speak without listening in. It's called manners, something that has fallen out of common behavior in our country. Now I'm trying to wonder what all the Clinton supporters were saying to excuse her poor attitude when she lost in South Carolina?... HillBilly fan club, grow up and be consistent, even if your leader can't.

    January 29, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. Fred

    ENOUGH PEOPLE! I hope you all realize that Senator Obama's action was not a snub. This was not intentional, give him or anybody more credit than that. And as for him having a lack of respect for Women. You would have to be pretty STUPID to believe this. This is a man that has a mother, sister, wife and two beautiful daughters. And I'm not voting for him just because he's a man, I have a wife and four beautiful daughters and I care about them more than anything in this world, and the best thing for their future is to have Senator Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.

    January 29, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. Hilary, Rochester NY

    I watched the SOTU last night. That hall is cram-jam full of people all trying to shake hands because they know the cameras are watching and that George Stephanopolous is intoning "and here we have Sen. Collins of Maine enaged in conversation with Sen. Landrieu of Louisiana, while Congressman Tancredo of Colorado and Senator Ensign of Nevada play "Rock, Paper, Scissors."
    Then there are the rows and aisles of seats, which some people have already taken, others not. Getting to your seat must be a gauntlet.

    So Sen. Clinton is chatting with some colleagues, she sees Sen. Kennedy and heads over to give him a "no-hard-feelings" handshake. Obama's already in place and sees her coming he's probably like, whoa, awkward...what do I do? I already waved to Hillary on the way in, so that's cool, but now she's headed over to talk to Ted and I don't know what to do...Of course the cameras are all on us, what will George Stephanopolous say? Just play it cool, act like you are totally unaware of any awkwardness here, she's still talking to Ted so look around the room and...Oh thank God, it's Sen. McCaskill, everyone likes her, nobody will think I'm a loser if I'm talking to Claire. After all, our states do share a border.

    And Hillary's probably like, gotta shake hands with Ted, show everyone I'm not on the outs with the Kennedys just because Ted is for Barack...where is Kennedy anyway?...oh MAN, right next to Obama...O.K., swallow hard, they've both seen you and George Stephanopolous is watching so just get on with it, you waved to Barack coming in so that's cool, now here's Ted...hey Ted, nice to see you at this incredibly lame event blah blah I can't even focus on what I'm saying because this is so awkward...hmm Barack looks kind of uncomfortable too, he's squirming around and...Oh thank God, it's Sen. McCaskill, everyone likes her, nobody will think it's even slightly odd that he started talking to Claire while I was chatting with Ted. After all, their states do share a border.

    You're right, CNN, this is absolutely crucial news material.

    January 29, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  10. Xavier

    Cracks me up to read people won't vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination but will easily vote for whichever Republican that does get the nomination. That to me is stupid.

    As for Obama, must he always answer a question by saying, "The question is..." Can't he just answer the question rather than beating around the bush and not answer at all? I believe Obama would be great as an inspirational speaker but he doesn't have what it takes to lead this country.

    Clinton has and always will have my vote.

    January 29, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  11. Diane

    THIS IS NOT NEWS, it is childish tit-for-tat. If we base our votes on this kind of stuff, we deserve what we get for president. God help us!

    January 29, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. kerry

    Stop trippin' He was talking to someone else. He didn't see her! If he was going to hit below the belt he would've done so durning their last debate. Hillary was obviously upset and he was as coolas a cucumber!

    January 29, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  13. Yolanda

    To all the people that scream THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE, I beg to differ. A president must be able to contraol his temper (you are nice enough, Hillary), and be able to be tactful to all kinds of people he may not particularly like. His behaviour was childish and turned a day that was all about Obama (Kennedy endorsement) to a day, that he may rather forget.

    January 29, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. AH

    Bill Clinton rightly says to teh CNN reporter, Shame on you!!! this news does not worth anything, yet, CNN is trying to make this a big deal...I ditto w/Billy: SHAME on YOU, CNN!!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. aware

    Your story isn't how the photographer saw it Barack. Clair McCaskill tapped you on the shoulder after you turned to avoid Hillary. The look on your face is a story in itself. You were caught being ungracious again Barack! 🙁

    Hillary 08

    January 29, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  16. WilliamG

    More rude behavior and more shucking and jiving when he's called on it.

    January 29, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. mike818

    Why we even arguing about hillary and obama....mccain is half democratic and have republican and think he'll be the best choice to led the country and finish the war in iraq with grace and not hurt american influence around the world.

    January 29, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  18. dan, Nigeria

    how jobless is the american media?

    January 29, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. jay

    At the end of the day.....who cares? This is something that you people are trying to create. If someone continues to lie about your record distort the truth would you want to shake thier hand? This is clearly a non issue. Give it a break

    January 29, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  20. Bob

    This really shows the desperation of the Clinton supporters. Trying to invent a scandal that does not exist. This is the type deceptive attack-dog "clinton-esk" politics that Ted Kennedy was talking about yesterday that this country needs to move away from.

    January 29, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  21. TEXAN for Hillary

    Obama followers–how does it feel when the tables are turned? Suddenly, when it's about Obama it's petty. He was caught on camera so it is a "matter of public opinion."
    Besides, pictures don't lie no matter how you try to justify it.

    And, he wants to win the nomination and face the Reps? HA! HA! You gotta have guts and enough backbone to stand up to the Reps.–Teddy & the other senators won't be standing next to him at the debates nor will they be on hand on a daily basis to help him dodge the tide of public opinion.

    January 29, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. JB Boston MA

    Why is it, Obama snubbing her. She snubbed him as well. This is stupid. Hilliots will try to grasp onto anything!

    January 29, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  23. ABB

    I wonder if any of these posters have the "manners' to just show their support for their candidate, be it Clinton or Obama,without having to resort to attacks, insults, and name calling. Then you turn around and attack the other side's supporters for "picking on" your candidate....seriously JUVENILE, but......'round and 'round we go...

    January 29, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  24. Brian

    Why on earth is this an issue? Are you suggesting that he should have gone out of his way to speak to her? Why is it such a big deal? Silly things like this are the reason that we have people like G.W. Bush in office today. People care more about who was more social at an event than who is best qualified to run the country.

    Focus on the bigger issue at hand people!

    January 29, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  25. Chelsea

    I still have not decided who I will be voting for when my state has it's primary. But I have to admit that little things like this can make me think differently about a candidate. There were little signs like this before Bush was elected that showed who he truly was. I'll bet there are a lot of people who wish they would have payed more attention. This could be a huge clue as to who Obama really is. How do you really think someone who acts like this to a fellow democratic senator, will TRULY do when it comes to uniting our country.

    January 29, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
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