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. karenSub

    I agree with you Bob. I see a pattern here. More worrisome is that the press is giving him a wide berth. I think Hillary is being held to a far higher standard. But unfortunately women always are.

    January 29, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Scott

    Boo friggin' hoo. I wish Obama would just apologize to all of the Clinton supporters for stealing her inevitability. I guess no one told him it was her turn to be president. Maybe he didn't shake her hand because he didn't want any of the Clinton grime to rub off. I can't tell if you people really buy into her crap or if Obama touches some sort of deep-seeded hatred.

    January 29, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Nell

    Wake up,American.It's rare occasion that you caught the true color of Obama. Don't be deceived by someone who is very sweet talk and manipulating the facts. Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama because he was angry at Bill for not listening to him. I do not ant purest CHNAGE & UNITY in their fake campaign.

    January 29, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Liz

    Puh-leeze. Obama has been nothing but a stand up man throughout all of this. Bill makes an off the cuff comment about Jesse Jackson and everyone says it wasn't meant to be a race issue. All is forgiven on his part, right? Now Obama says it wasn't an intentional snub and everyone jumps all over him saying he's lying and such. I don't get it.

    Obama in '08!

    January 29, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Latina Voter in CA

    Hillary said it best: OBAMA NEVER takes RESPONSIBILITY for ANYTHING!

    He always has an excuse to coward away from admitting the truth. This is not mere, this is a BIG deal, since he speeches and preaches on 'Unity'.

    O yea, and the talk about his so called 'speech' after his SC win..1st, he did NOT write it himself 2nd. He uses TeLe Prompter. He is non original, and sad that he has 'Used' some of one of my great Admirers : MLK to try to serve his cause. Shame, shame, shame..Shame on SC voters-You used Race to get this man to win. Sad, but true. No matter his color nor Hillary's, bottom line: he is a man, and his message is not that Hillary is not qualified..He does not want to lose to a Woman..So of course, in SC he had to use the Race card to divide the voters, not unite them.

    January 29, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. Mike G

    Everyone's true colors seem to be coming to surface lately....all starting with WE ARE WOMAN , Oprah !

    Obama is a phony...if he was so against the war, why did he keep voting to fund the troops, just like Hillary? .....whatever......

    January 29, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. Michael, Columbus, IN

    Interestingly enough...people are basing their opinions on photographs on the web and in newspapers because as far as I can tell....hardly anyone watched the state of the union live.

    people who aren't supporting obama will look for anything to overcome his appeal.

    can we NOT act like 1st graders?

    January 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. mary

    Obama behavior during the state of the union address towards Hillary Clinton just gave us a glimpse us his true character. all his politics of ?, change messages. Obama is phony! he said he is not perfect. TOO MANY IMPERFECTIONS. Look at goerge bush..what he brought us. do the analogy.

    by the way, CNN seems to me is playing as media vehicle to beautify obama.

    January 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    You people are bloody ridiculous. Are Clinton supporters really so desparate to trash Obama that they need to keep this nonsense up? Grow up, people. You wouldn't be commenting on this crap if it had been Clinton. Besides, what effort did she make to approach him?

    Also, isn't it her campaign that tried to make him into the black candidate just to make white people less likely to vote for him? Geez, even if it were a snub, I do believe it would be well deserved.

    January 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. George from Minneapolis

    This is so dumb.. Anything to try and get him off his incredible message. Nice try, not really though.

    Lets talk about why Obama is the best candidate for America. Thats what the people want to hear. This did he snub her or not conversation is for dimwits.

    Stay focused people.

    January 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Rodney Dallas, TX

    Who cares? I don't care if he shakes her hand. Grow up people! The comments on this post seem to be from kids.

    January 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Deezer

    I agree with all the Hillary supporters. Obama should have politely extended his hand and introduced himself to her as the "young man" in the "fairy tale" who's just like Jesse Jackson. We should all be very polite to people who vilify and insult us.

    January 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Jeffery, New Orleans

    That's not what I meant. I mean I didn't mean to snub her. I'm the victim here. There you go being mean to me again.

    January 29, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  14. Cindy

    Can we say "junior high school?"

    January 29, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  15. BO

    Obama and his campaign has exhibited a degree of arrogance from the beginning. Hopefully this candid moment will expose Obama's true character to America. Obama exhibited poor judgement in running for president so early in his career. It is an insult to America's intelligence that Obama's greatest weakness, his inexperience, is spun as one of his strengths. America doesn't need a motivational speaker as their president. America needs someone that has made the personal sacrifice to be as prepared as they possibly can be for the presidency, for that is the true meaning of experience. That is what is good for this country. That is what America deserves.

    Hillary '08

    January 29, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. Joseph

    People please...






    I think that there are more important things to worry about than this sort of reality TV show drama. I don't care if they hate eachother, never shake hands, smile at eachother, whatever.

    They need to work together. Period. End of story. It's not a dating show, this is real life.

    January 29, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. Geri Sacramento

    You absolutely did snub her. No use trying to weasel out of it. If you were running for high school studentbody president, it would have been one thing. However, in this case, your rude, boorish behavior only shows that you are in no way ready to engage in presidential politics, let alone occupy the seat in the Oval Office.

    January 29, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Joyce Mosier

    So much for bringing civility back to Washington! Come on, Obama, grow up!! A snub is a snub is a snub, and you sure don't practice what you preach.

    As to the "all-inspiring speeches," that's all it is...a speech. No experience and no real concrete ideas. Come back in a few years and give it a whirl.

    As to the comparison to JFK: You are no JFK and never could be. Besides being a statesman, he was a war hero. And he definitely never was close to being a drug addict as you profess you were as a young man!

    Pretty speeches don't make policies.

    As to "did not vote for the war," you weren't in a position to vote yea or nay, so just drop that claim to fame.

    January 29, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Patriot

    So, how many brave American lives have been lost this past week in George Bush's/Clinton-authorized war in Iraq?

    The ticker is more concerned with glances and handshakes.

    January 29, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Joel

    Could we please stop sensationalizing the minutia? For potential Leaders of our Nation, these people are pretty much the most overly sensitive prom kings and queens I've ever seen. Toughen up guys and gals. One of you pansies is going to be in charge of our nation. I expect you to be a little tougher than that.

    January 29, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  21. Tom

    What about Hillary's snub of SC? She fled that state and didn't have the courtesy to thank them for there hard work. It was shameful the way she took off and not even an concession speech when she got trounced. More of the do anything, say anything to get elected.

    January 29, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. cadem22

    Are you kidding me CNN??? this is the most pointless news story of this entire election...and HRC supporters need to relax and get a life if this is a big deal to you I feel sorry for you

    January 29, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Rob

    wow look at the Clinton Pitty party in this blog...why don't you finsih reportign that the other senator said...."People are making this to be bigger then it really is"...people will see what they want if he says he didn't Snub her then I'll take his word for it..I love how Obama has to explain every move he makes to these Clinton Fanatics...cause thats what you are...your like some mindless drones powered by the straight up BS that she spews out her mouth..

    January 29, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Daniel Hall

    I am sorry but WHO CARES?

    Is this photo relevant to the campaign? Does anybody think that they are buddy buddy after the punches that have been thrown by both sides. Both candidates are well liked by a majority of the party, and both would support the other if they are the eventual nominee. Besides I am sure there were a lot of people in that chamber that were trying to say hello to both of them, since they both have strong chances for the nomination. Let's stay focused on what is actually said and not try and infer things from a photo.

    Tempe, AZ

    January 29, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. Paul in Kissimmee

    I don't know if he snubbed her or not without seeing video. But if he did, could you blame him? Maybe she marched over there to break up a conversation to show her power. Could you blame her? The gloves came off a long time ago. I just wonder if they realize that whoever doesn't win the nomination, they would not be able to endorse their candidate. Their war will give the Republicans alot of ammunition. Even Clinton doesn't seem Obama fit to be President. Even Obama doesn't see Clinton fit to be President. Anybody but me see the same thing?

    January 29, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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