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. Clintons are DONE

    Is personable a good quality for a leader?

    January 29, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  2. Harry (Netherlands)

    As a dutch reader I follow the elections with interest. One thing that always strike me is how much attention is focused on minor details that seem irrelevant. I wouldn't dare to say that this incident will tell the voters anything meaningful about the character of a possible future president. So...why care?

    January 29, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. Marie

    THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!! I am amazed at this latest round of fantastic reporting. I do believe that the objective is to instigate infighting among the Democrats. Just as I think too much is made of President and Senator's Clinton actions or remarks, I think that too much is made of Senator Obama's actions or remarks.
    Please believe me when I say that most Democrats do not buy this garbage. We are focused on what's most important--Democrat as president! How about reporting on something worthwhile for a change. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES!!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  4. Tarc

    Bull. Obama showed that he lacks the decorum and professionalism to be president with that snub last night; this smacks of Cheney's f-bomb directed to Senator Leahy a few years back.

    We've already had 8 years of this emperor-has-no-clothes nonsense. Don't elect another one, please.

    January 29, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. Andy

    Of course it was a Snub. He turned away precisely when she approached. Coincidence? Get real. Don't you have to talk to your "enemies" in politics? Otherwise you would get nothing done. Whatever happened to bringing people together? How will Obama as President get votes from the Republicans for his bills (instead of filibusters) after they call him in the election a liberal, inexperienced politician without the substance to accomplish change.

    January 29, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  6. Mark

    OMG how lucky can obama be-Ted Kennedy. What a joke! Jackie is roling over in her frave. Ted is the most un-honest politician ever. Remember the girl friend he had and let her drown-nice role model. Wake up america, Obama is no john kennedy either unless he likes woman like Monroe. Get real!!! Go hillary!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. tomdavie

    Does it even matter if Obama 'snubbed' Clinton. Pretty softball stuff folks.

    January 29, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  8. Ms. Rene Freeman

    For heaven's sake, take a valium. So someone asks Obama a question and has the bad timing of answering. You are fabricating a situation and my only conclusion is that you are attempting to present him in a bad light in order to bolster Clinton. One needs to ask are you trying to garner sympathy for her from those that did not buy into her tears. This would not have been an issue if the same situtation had occured with Edwards. Clinton does not need any help pulling the gender card, she is doing quite well on her own.

    January 29, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  9. j.r.

    The look on Obama's face in the pic looked just like my teenagers when they didn't get their way....I was leaning toward him, but these last few weeks, every since the debate "your likeable enough" I've turned toward Hillary....This thing of Hillary calling for FL and MI delegates to be seated and counted, and Obama saying no, HIllary just wants to win at any cost, because she won, then he just wants to win at the cost of not having millions of votes counted...I'll take Hillary any day, more gown up, not acting like a baby....

    January 29, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  10. Jack, Greenville, SC

    Anyone who claims to have "seen the film" or some such claim is lying. THERE IS NO FILM, there are only these snapshots that people can interpret as they like.

    January 29, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. Kim

    What's even more ridiculous that this is even news is the fact that there are 800 comments about this ridiculous story. Insane!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  12. Terry

    CNN, you are Cable News Network, not Childish News Network.
    There are more important issues in this nation we need to debate than reporting this nonsense stuff.

    January 29, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  13. john wayne

    Hi clintons supporters you r really drowning n clutching at straws,I'll tell my presidential candidate sen.Obama to threat her like a queen next time he sees her,all u people just stop begging for her now!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  14. kelley

    I think you should pull the "Iraq connections" off of this blog. It is an inappropriate comment and should not be made under any circumstances without some sort of proof. In this electronic age – anyone can say anything (ie Obama was sworn in with the Koran) blast it out to lots of e-mail and before you know it – it becomes fact in someone's mind.

    I am all for free speech – but this is irrespondable speech!!!! CNN PLEASE REMOVE!!!!!.

    January 29, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  15. pam Eugene OR

    I am with Nick on this A great big SO WHAT!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |

    Hillary has 35 years experience of snubbing!

    January 29, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. Dave

    The funniest thing about all the comments saying Obama is not a uniter is that you are contending hillary is. Hillary Clinton is probably the most divisive person running for president right now. You're telling me Republicans would rather work with Hillary than with Obama?!? GET REAL! After the start of terribly partisan and divided politics with the first installment of the Clintons and the continued trend in the 2nd installment of the Bushs we have had enough of this 2 family back and forth. No more Hillary, no more Clintons. She is not the person to unite this country, she is not the person to inspire change and she is NOT the person that wants to be president to bring change. She IS the person that wants to be president so that she can say she was the first woman to be president.

    January 29, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  18. Katie

    Fact is, HE COULD'VE AT LEAST ACKNOWLEDGED HER FIRST BEFORE TURNING AWAY to give her & Kennedy privacy, but he didn't. HE TURNED HIS BACK and pretended not to see her, and then he struck up a conversation with someone else. HE LIED when he said McCaskill asked him something that's why he turned away because HE TURNED AWAY FIRST before McCaskill asked him something.

    January 29, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Jose from NY.

    This election is unique in so many ways and the recent debates did have a lot of substance. Senator Obama deserves credit for all that he has said and done so far. He has been more than gracious to his opponents on numerous occations. There has been a consistent effort in some sections of the media to change the tone of this great election to some mean fight between races and colors. If the media sensationalizes points like these, we will continue lose focus and the ultimate losers will be us, the American people. Let the media focus on the real issues that people care about.

    January 29, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  20. David

    How can people call Obama childish for how he handled the situation. HIllary wasn't coming over to shake his hand, she wanted to say hello to Senator Kennedy. This situation would naturally be awkward, so Barack simply found someone else to talk to and let two friends chat. This is no big deal. They even waved at each other earlier that day in the Senate chamber, and they great each other at every single debate with a handshake. So, it doesn't even make sense that he would "snub" her, so it probably didn't happen. Don't let the media hoodwink you, people.

    CNN is what is behaving childishly. This is yet another non-issue blown way out of proportion by the media. We need to focus on the politics of this campaign, not the showmanship, the petty things, or the random mistakes of each other's past (WalMart, Rezko, etc). I do not specifically support either candidate yet, however, I do support the Democratic Party, and the US, and such stories as this are not helping.

    January 29, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. Bob, DC

    On a related subject - Why did Hillary cancel her scheculed interviews last night with Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN? They were to be conducted after the President's State of the Union address. After wrapping an interview with Sen. Obama, CNN's Anderson Cooper said, "Senator Clinton agreed to talk with us. At the last minute she canceled. Her campaign is offering no explanation." MSNBC and FNC confirm with TVNewser that Clinton canceled her appearances on those networks as well.


    This is "real" scandal from last night. Any comment from the Hillary-philes on this story?

    January 29, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  22. Patrick

    Obama handled the situation properly... I was gonna vote for Hillary, after this.. I'm going to vote for Obama.

    January 29, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. realworld

    "So Obama, Axelrod, and McCaskill all say that Obama did not snub Hillary. Do you expect them to say anything else? The media and voters will have to decide what this snub looked like to them. It is also obvious if you look at the video that Claire tapped Obama AFTER he turned his shoulder to Hillary not before. Obama could have also reached out to Hillary even if he had been talking to Claire but he did not.

    And here is another couple questions: If Hillary had done this to Obama would the media and blogs be treating her with kids gloves over this? NO. And if her high level endorsers had stated she had not snubbed Obama would they have been believed? No.

    As for people saying that Hillary is trying to use this to her advantage…did she say anything about this today? Why is the Obama camp trying to act as if she did?"


    Sometimes, I can't stand when people are so dumb with their comments. what has this got to do with the way you vote. looking for ways to rally support for clintons? this certainly is not the way. give me a big break!!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  24. Isabella

    This is why the picture was put on the cutting block, America. CNN are staunch Republicans. As a Hillary supporter, if Obama won the primary, I have stated that I would vote Republican. So have Obama supporters, if Hillary wins. Therefore, as we all are turning on each other, CNN and the Republicans win!!!

    January 29, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  25. stan pitts pa

    at least he obama respects his wife and doesnt cheat on her! he is a man of great integrity and hope for America to move beyond petty partisan bickering!

    January 29, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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