January 29th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: I didn't snub Clinton

ALT TEXT

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. Kathy

    Sen. Claire McCaskill D of Missouri defending Barrack Obama reminds me of Bush with his arm around an uncomfortable Sen McCain of Arizona posing together on the steps of Air Force 1 after Kerry stated that he could work with Republican party members like John McCain.

    Just be honest the truth it will set you free.

    January 29, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. Politics-Schmoliticks

    HEY PEOPLE, this is all politics.

    So what if Obama definitely snubbed her.
    So what if the Clinton's were twisting peoples' words last week.
    and so what that Edwards extra-whitens his teeth!

    When watching the political-ring you have to keep those things in mind that none of this means squat and won't make a bit of difference what kind of President any of them would be.

    So chill-out folks....

    There's plenty more snubbing to come from all the candidates.

    January 29, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  3. randy1

    Where is the press?All those so called loud mouths? IF hillary had done a similar thing, much noise would be made, I am a man ,but cannot understand how she is being hatered,even by some women,.the American people are stooping low,maybe one day become like people from Kenya,we should sit up and stop being snobbs.

    January 29, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. Alise

    When I read these comments it seems that Barak has Mrs. Bill Clinton supporters nervous, about the only way you would explain these comments that have such venom over a nothing incident that the media is loving getting all this attention on. Ah...politics at its finest.

    January 29, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  5. Leonardo

    Yeah he snubbed her, but not as an insult. More like snubbing a friend who hurts your feelings. No big deal.

    I bet that he voted for Clinton 8 years ago. I think the Clintons have been his political role models, and he thought he was in a friendly rivalry with them.
    When he met the full force of the Clinton political machine, I bet it hurt his feelings.

    January 29, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  6. stan pitts pa

    HRC and her supporters will PAY a big price on Super Tuesday for making this none issue an iSSUE, instead of dealing with the problems facing this nation, HRC supporters and campaign staffers who post on this BLOG seem to think Americans are stupid or idiots! You will find out otherwise and the hard way on Feb 5th, obama 08!

    January 29, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  7. Jay

    The proof is in the pudding. Period.

    You would think that Obama would have a bit more heightened awareness that he was seated close to Clinton and that every move would be scrutinized. So for him to turn away pretty much sealed the fact that he IN FACT was snubbing her.

    HECK, I'm not even voting for either one of them but am just going by the straight up facts.

    January 29, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  8. Glenn, Cary, NC

    WHO FREAKING CARES? The only problem I have with all of this is the media will not accept Obama's explanation any more than they accepted the Clintons' explanations for simple statements of fact or observations that make perfect sense in context. GROW UP, CNN.

    January 29, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. Alice

    It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings

    Oprah, that's your cue! Sing the crybaby's swan song, please

    Thank you – Chappaquiddick Ted can sing harmony – he ought to be drunk enough

    January 29, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  10. Jason

    So Hillary's pilloried for every hard-ball comment she (or her husband, or her staffers, etc.) make, but Obama gets off with a nice fluff piece when he behaves like a snotty kid? Another transparent piece of work by CNN, or is that ONN (Obama News Network).

    Ultimately it's not really an issue, is it? Now if you'd just treat all non-issues like the non-issues they are, perhaps your coverage would be seen as fair and not fawning.

    January 29, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. tracey

    Since

    when

    did

    Character

    not

    become

    an

    ISSUE!

    Go Hillary!

    January 29, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. Carol, La.

    A point to make regarding Caroline Kennedy's endorsement of Obama. She feels he reminds her of her father. Caroline was about 6 years old when her father was killed. He was hero to many of us and some of us are old enough to remember him. For those who do not remember him or were not even here when Kennedy was alive, please go to Wikipedia and read his biography.

    Kennedy was a war hero. He even joined the service in spite of a bad back. He served his country in the House/Senate from 1947 to 1961 before he ran for president. He wasn't just a lot of inspiring speeches with not much to back them up. I am sure the Clintons can't mention this without being beaten up by the media.

    I hope Obama does turn out to be the man Kennedy was. I think he just might but I think he needs to pay a little more dues before he takes on a job as big and as serious as the one that the next president will face.

    January 29, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  13. Whatever

    Someone commented on the saying that " A picture is worth a million words". I thought that was funny because thats about how many different words will be used to describe the picture and still we will have about another million thoughts on what really happened.

    Obama 08'

    January 29, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  14. Jonathan

    Gee, Sen. McCaskill doesn't LOOK like she's asking a question, in fact, she appears to be looking at Sen. Clinton... What a dissapointment Obama is turning out to be, really no difference, no change.

    January 29, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  15. Khwaty

    You'll know a person's character in little things a person doesn't know is shown to a lot of people.

    This is not the first time Obama did this to Hillary.

    I'm a man, Obama has a dismissive attitude towards women.

    January 29, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  16. Leslie Somerville, Seattle, Washington

    OBAMA IS LIKE A LITTLE BOY TRYING TO AVOID GOING TO BED EARLY WHEN MOMMY COMES TO GET HIM. MORE POWER TO YOU HILLARY-YOU ARE GRACIOUS AND NON-DISCRIMINATORY. YOU ARE BRINGING THE PARTY TOGETHER AS YOU WILL THE NATION.
    A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, AND THIS ONE WILL BE BOUGHT ON EBAY FOR A LOT MORE.

    January 29, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. Howard

    I DON'T CARE that Obama snubbed Hillary. I DO CARE that he prevaricated about it.

    January 29, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  18. tracey

    What more of an "ISSUE" is there than a persons CHARACTER. The man is running for PRESIDENT..you think you might be somewhat concerned about His behavior which reflects His CHARACTER!

    January 29, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  19. Jonathan

    He totally snubbed her.... THIS IS AN ISSUE!

    January 29, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  20. Nirav

    What are we in high school? Grow up and stop reporting garbage like this.

    January 29, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  21. Carol Owen

    Are we all to believe that Hillary Rodham is actually HAPPY to see Sentator Kennedy...the same Senator Kennedy who just stabbed her in the back by endorsing Senator Obama? It is so blatant to me that the picture says a thousand words. Hillary is as two-faced as they come. If I were Senator Obama, I wouldn't have given her the time of day either.

    January 29, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. steve

    O.K, CNN, this is what Bill Clinton was talking about. Here you are focusing on some perceived slight instead of focusing on the issues. Get back to it, please.

    January 29, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  23. THIS IS INSANE

    STOP THIS INSANITY. SERIOUSLY. I CANT BELIEVE THIS GETS SO MUCH COMMENT. DONT YOU PEOPLE HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO??? IS THIS THE BEST THING YOU CAN FIND TO TALK ABOUT?? GOD HELP US... THIS COUNTRY IS A LOT MORE SCREWED UP THAN I EVER FEARED.

    January 29, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  24. Bryce

    Are you people 12 or what?? This is the most ridiculous thing yet. Grow up people. This isn't a reality show. This isn't President IDOL. The media is playing you like a fiddle. Anyone who has EVER used a camera can tell you that a moment frozen in time can be interpreted in a plethora of ways depending on the angle of the shot. When I first saw the original photo I said that someone else got his attention from the other direction. Come on you guys. Get serious and stop injecting gossip and things that have nothing to do with the ISSUES into the campaign. We're talking about presidential campaigns not the next Britney Spears breakdown. Separate your tabloid fix from electing our next president please. Don't take something idiotic and use that as your excuse for voting for or against someone because you're too lazy to really give your time and energy to studying the issues. You're acting like high schoolers who really want to not like the new girl but don't have a reason so they use something insignificant. "Did you see what she was wearing today!?!? I knew there was a reason why I didn't like her!!" You're just using this to exercise your personal prejudices whatever the true nature of that is. There are people paid to inject this type of stupidity into the process because basically they think that public is one step above retarded. There are people on this site right now leaving comments that they don't even believe because they're trying to use this as a way of swaying your opinion one way or another. If you allow THIS to influence your vote you are pathetically gullible and displaying the same intelligence as a dog being tossed a bone in order to keep him from barking at you.

    January 29, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. Young Liberal

    Wow, you people call yourself Americans yet you won't vote for someone because it appereared that they snubbed their rival. It scares me that you are allowed to vote.

    Obama 08

    January 29, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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