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. alexis

    WOW, who cares. Does our news media really have nothing better to do than to report on something as trivial as this?

    January 29, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  2. Erick in Fort Lauderdale

    This is coming from someone that is supposed to be a uniter? An inspirational leader? I am sooo dissappointed that he would act like a 1st grader instead of a candidate for President. The scene clearly shows he didn't strike a conversation with Senator McCaskill until AFTER he turned, but nice try on his part.

    January 29, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  3. Nap time... Cookies later.

    Depends on what the definition of "snub" actually is.

    January 29, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. GM

    Untrue! You snubbed her! We have all seen the video. The whole world saw it! Snub her first and then talked Claire.

    One would think that you would conceive a more believable statement!

    A man of ‘change’ – ? Your political campaign doesn’t seem like anything new to me.
    Also, how can Obama be a man of change when he allies himself / accepts endorsement from a political dynasty like the Kennedys?? How long have they been around and how much change have they provided??? More like an endorsement for the status quo. Quid Pro Quo.

    ‘ClintonHater’ – real mature. Nice to see you follow Obama’s approach.

    I used to believe in Obama and I was going to vote for him, but with the continuation of the campaign has shown me that Obama isn’t all he claims he is.

    Change. Right I have more change in my glove compartment.

    January 29, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  5. NYC, New Yorker, NY

    Clintons are DONE

    Yes Personable is a quality for a leader. I don't want another GWB in the White House. BTW he Hugged GWB yesterday.Last person all of you treated like was GWB haven't learned our lession.

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

    yes, being personable 'is' a good quality. Would Obama do that to foreign leaders if he didn't want to talk to them?

    January 29, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Seth McFarlane

    Get on with the show already and get Hilary in office. Obama is just plain old rude.

    January 29, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  8. Edward

    Barack is obviously the best candidate, but he has had to navigate a minefield of American racial and gender sensibilities, especially in this Democratic primary campaign. There is a long history of over-protectiveness of white women from black men in this country. How many black men were beaten or lynched in the South for just looking at a white woman the wrong way? After the New Hampshire debate, when Hillary said her feelings were hurt because of not being liked, Barack actually came to her rescue by saying, “You’re likeable enough.” And Hillary immediately responded appropriately by saying she appreciated that. But right after the debate, George Stephanopoulos misinterpreted what Barack had said and called it, “Not his finest moment.” It’s true Barack hadn’t gone over the top with phony compliments, but he had responded to the moment in a decent, appropriate way. Time permitting, his more complete response would probably have gone like this: “You’re likeable enough, Hillary, but that’s not the point. It’s not about us. It’s about who can do the best job for the American people at this critical moment in our country’s history. I don’t expect to be elected on likeability. I want to be elected because I think I can do the best job.”

    January 29, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  9. tc

    He definitely snubbed her and has shown himself to be petty and small before... such as his comments about "Likeable enough" and taking her advise when he is the president.

    This is the guy that will "bridge the partisan divide".?!..nice rhetoric, but peel back the angelic veneer (that the media has been completely involved in creating) and it is not connected to reality. The fact is that he has demonized Hillary in the mind of his followers and in their minds she is the equal of Bush and Cheney.

    His explanation for this definite snub doesn't fly factually, and was contradicted by Axelrod's earlier statement, which was probably closer to the truth.

    Keep lying BO abut tstuff like this and eventually you'll get to see the old DC adage that "the cover-up is worse than the crime".

    Just imagine of Al Gore or Hillary had done a similar thing.

    January 29, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. kelley

    For all of you who want to vote for Hillary – please do so – then we will end up with McCain in the white house. Haven't you figured out – many people DO NOT like Hillary!!!! It may not be fair but it is true.

    The replublicans are licking their chops...

    January 29, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. Jim

    The level of scrutiny for presidency is justified by your reactions. I'm looking for a competent leader who can manage the government to protect and meet the people's needs. It would be great if the media did a better job of flushing out the differences between candidates based on campaign platform, proposed solutions, voting record, and past accomplishments!

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

    Hillary Clinton did not come over to talk to Obama, she went over there to talk to Kennedy. Why would Obama be standing there listening to their conversation if she didn't come over there to talk to Obama in the first place.

    I don't know how you all were raised but I know if I'm talking to someone and someone else comes up to talk to them, I would OUT OF RESPECT step aside and let them talk. He was giving them some privacy, what's wrong with that.

    I don't get it, she didn't extend her hand to Obama, she extended it to Kennedy. Do you speak to everyone you work with, I bet there are some co-workers that you don't talk right.

    Obama said he had already spoke to Clinton earlier, so he has to shake her hand everytime she is around.

    You can't take a photo and make judgement. Bill Clinton broke one of the 10 commandments and you all are blasting Obama for not participating in a conversation that had nothing to do with him.

    January 29, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Kay Slack

    Has CNN endorsed Obama? He has more face time than Wolf Blitzer! I'd like to hear more of the other candidates. The rest haven't dropped out, have they?

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

    I think people just want an excuse to have a go at Obama. This was an akward situation.. Ted has endorsed Obama...Hilary moves across to say hello to Ted...to avoid any akwardness Obama moves away. Anyone would do that..All u Obama bashers...You just dislike Obama!!!! How many of you wld not of avoided such an akward position

    January 29, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. Christine, Burke, VA

    This sounds like the kind of drama my 8th graders create. Way to go, CNN! You've advanced to the middle school level in your reporting.

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


    January 29, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. Faiza, Los Angeles, CA

    omg finally some common sense is seeping in, geez. Nothing happened, just because you see someone that you know doesn't mean you always have to greet them every time you see them. Even though he turned away, what did you expect him to do, waiting around for them to finish talking, he's allowed not to talk to people doesn't mean he is snubbing them.

    This is a non-issue, end of story. Start reporting on stories not creating them.

    January 29, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. Breaking News

    KENNEDYS Change their mind and backing themselves now.
    Caroline Kennedy will run as an independent.

    Do you support KENNEDYS???

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

    I see, CNN is trying to help us here, but the new picture doesn't help at all.

    Senator whoever-that-woman-is was clapping her hands, she wasn't engaged in a conversation with Saint Obama. And it is so obvious that Obama was snuuuuuuuuuubing Hillary.

    No More Liars from Obamania!

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

    the entire incident is rediculous and immature. Reality is had Hillary done the same mistake it would be on every tv station and radio....I find that for some reason Obama tends to always have an excuse for his conduct and yet people always jump to defend his actions. He's not a child...For God sake I pray that whomever becomes the next President of the United States has better conduct and holds theirself accountable for their actions! Grow UP.

    What all Democrats (including me, because I am one) should be upset about is that not one of our Democrats stood when President Bush spoke about the progress our troops have made in Iraq. I don't agree with the war either...I've had 7 family members do several tours there, and my husband and 18 year old nephew are getting ready to head there. That was not about whether you agree with the war or with Bush it was about supporting our troops and they deserve our support. You want important issues and news, that is it. Grow up people and start focusing on what is really important.

    January 29, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  21. Barack Oprahma

    Hillary showed a lot of guts by greeting Kennedy.

    If Oprahma wins, he will be SNUBBED by FOREIGN COUNTRIES
    No more presidential Faux pas!

    January 29, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  22. Lilly

    FYI to Obama supporters: Clinton is not putting up a smear campaign with this whole Obama snubbing "event". The Clinton campaign has not even discussed it publicly, or have extended on the matter. She is not trying to capitalize on this at all. So, I ask from the Obama supporters, will you please stop making Clinton out to be some angry, malicious person?

    Clearly, I believe the Clinton campaign wants to get back to the issues as I believe the Obama campaign wants to get back to the issues as well.

    January 29, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  23. Joke of the day....

    Please......is dirty politics a good quality for a leader and the ex-prez?

    January 29, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  24. Danny, CA

    This is another reason for American people to re-think. This guy is a liar and he has excuse for everything. He is always right. I am sorry there is no candidate now to vote for. Both Obama and Hillary are disqualified. Go away....

    January 29, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  25. Jeremy, Jacksonville Fl

    Obama was very smart to turn away. HIllary wanted to have a picture with him and Ted and make it seem as if they are all friends. She is so calculating in is not even funny. Its over for her.... Up with obama

    January 29, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
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