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. Erick

    What do you guys expect from an ambitious and arrogant individual? The only reason he ran for the Illinois senate is to become a president. He wants a short cut to the top job and doesn't want to earn it. He's cocky and I don't like him. For those naive people who loves Obama, I know he make you feel there's hope for great things to come on your life. I suggest you go to go to your nearest church and get the same things from a preacher. Obama supporters use the same dangerous logic that got us Bush. Dangerously stupid!

    January 29, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  2. Andrea

    Obama is riding on the black vote, However, he has no use for them. He only caters to his rich elite black friends. He has no substance , and cannot address the needs and issues for this country. I am black and would not in a lifetime vote for him, he needs to be a motivational speaker for Oprah or Dr phil. Obama is now finding his white grandparents to capitalize on the white votes. he is rude, he is a liar, he is inexperience . go hillary 08

    January 29, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  3. Casey

    He did snub her. Is it a big deal, no. However, if Clinton had snubbed Obama it would have been apocalyptic.

    January 29, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  4. Laura-TX

    Who cares about the Kennedys?? Not me! JFK is gone people, and the rest of the Kennedys are a joke. You have Teddy who is a druken slob and boring Caroline who unlike her brother who had the charisma and did something with his life...she hasn't. Too bad Obama got stuck with 2 boring twits!

    As far as this whole "did Obama snub her" thing...again Who cares? I wouldn't blame him if he did...you know sometimes you see someone and you don't feel like having to fake the niceness. I've done it and I can bet most other Americans have to..so if Obama did or didn't do it–not a major issue.

    January 29, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. McPoke

    What a non issue.
    All these Hillary supporters pretending her garbage does not
    stink. I imagine the Hillary campaign is going to jump all over this
    since they have nothing else to go on. What a sad position the
    Clinton's are in...the position of being the whiny kid that stomps her
    foot because she did not get the golden goose from Wilie Wonka.

    January 29, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  6. Wes

    The perfect bait caught the ultimate snubb. Now you both can go to "time out"! Can we get two new Democratic candidates otherwise I'm looking at the RED party.

    January 29, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. James

    "I don't think we can expect the leaders of Iran and Russia to feel pity when she cries!!"

    If a MALE president overcomes with emotion because of something and his voice breaks, nobody yells "how is he supposed to deal with iran and russia if he cries!!!" – but if a female presidential candidate does the same, people like you yell out stuff like that.
    This is why America is so backward when it comes to women's rights – for gods sakes, middle eastern countries have elected women prime ministers!! Isn't it time for America to elect a female president? We have an EXCELLENT choice in Hillary – too bad the evangelicals and the republicans have been bashing hillary for decades.. I hope she continues, defies all her critics and becomes president! Hillary '08!

    January 29, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. Lisa

    Why is Hillary being treated differently than any of the other candidates? When all the Republicans "snub" Ron Paul – is that news? When Huckabee, McCain or Romney make their snips at each other does one cry about it?

    Is it more upsetting to think that a Black man is perceived rude to a White woman, than a White man against a White man?

    Where is the story about Hillary's snub to CNN and the people who were expecting to hear her comments to the state of the union address?

    January 29, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  9. RAFi68

    now the obama people dont want to talk about this uuuummm

    January 29, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  10. Vancouver-Truth

    Perhaps, "THE BLOOM IS OFF THE ROSE". As we get to know Obama the more we realize he doesn't live up to the "non political" image he is trying to create for himself. This might not be a bad thing for Obama supporters. They may be forced to look at substantive reasons to vote for him rather than the hype.

    Image aside – for months Obama has been pontificating about things that no one would disagree with, WE WANT CHANGE, WE WANT A NEW AMERICA , A UNITED AMERICA. Well duh, really? Talking "vision" is easy. Real vision is understanding HOW. If Obama supporters don't care HOW the candidates are going to manage change – we're all in trouble.

    January 29, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. ajay

    I guess those red-neck clintons now know what it feels like to be snubbed by someone of another race. they try to pander to the black vote all the while being devoted krackers.

    January 29, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. al

    It is not a slow newsday, so I am surprised that reporters are wasting time on this. Who cares?

    January 29, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |

    LITTLE THING LIKES THIS U ALREADY LIAR HOW CAN WE TRUST U???????????????????????????????????????????????????
    NEVER VOTE 4 SOMEONE LIAR.......................

    January 29, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  14. Ginness2050

    Perception is far more important than intent. But it would still be a snub if, in fact, as Obama claims, his attention was diverted by a voice behind him. When someone is reaching out to shake hands with your companion, it is standard etiquette to offer your hand (and a gracious smile) as well.

    Barack Obama needs to do a lot of growing to become qualified to feel the role of President of the United States.

    Hillare Clinton is the only Democratic candidate with a chance of being elected.

    January 29, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  15. Vivienne

    I am an 18 year old who will be voting for the first time this year. Personally i agree this is not an issue but if it must be brought up then i believe it does look like a snub to Clinton. Obama says that he was distracted by a question but shouldnt their mouths be moving and they were both applauding. honestly it does look like a snub but also as an 18 year old can we please focus on the REAL issues not the childish ones.

    January 29, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. Livia

    I could not beleive Obama's behavior towards Mrs. Clinton. He is like a little kid, mad at his rival. And he wants to bring change, now I wonder what type of Change he wants to bring to all of us!!!
    I do not know this guy at all, and his behavior towards Hillary was so child like and not of a politician who's offering change and unity.
    If Obama cannot cope with opposition and handle it with respect , God protect us if he ever wins the White House. The world is full of opposition, is he going to behave like that all the time he is being attacked?
    I Will Not Vote for Obama. He lost me even considering voting for him.

    January 29, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. zipo

    Jeff, the poete says " ignorance is a danger one must avoid" , do yourself a favor to remember who first started negative attacts ? who's campaign sent more appologies to the other? who's entourage sent disrespectfull mails, it's sad that you can to notice that the party is divided only now. Who are the champions of division ? come on all this obsolete generation of politician and voters corrupted by the clintons know that YOU CAN LIE TO AMERICAN THE WAY YOU ALWAYS DID. BUT REMEMBER WHEN YOU DO WRONG THINGS, YOUR CONSCIENCE WILL BE YOUR FIRST JUDGE as my dad (Gilbert K. ) always says.

    January 29, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  18. vic

    This is news!!!!! Is this how many of the people of America choose their Next President of the United States?
    Not much IQ needed. Yep, just be an expert in body language and scrutinize a few photos of the candidates.. and then the final step is debate who has the best manners and body language.
    No wonder there's a war going on in Iraq...
    Well done. I'm so "enlightened" by the politics of America.

    January 29, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  19. al

    Why isn't anyone talking about Hillary reneging on her agreement not to campaign in Florida. The other Democratic candidates have remained true to their word. Looks like another attempt on her part to change the rules after the game has started.

    January 29, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  20. Paul

    By his bevavior, Barack Oabama clearly shows he is not ready for primetime.

    January 29, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. ezra

    it breaks my heart that a young up start like barack obama has the nerve to snub hillary. hillary will win and barack and michelle can get the heck back to chicago. let 'em embrace oprah!

    January 29, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  22. Jeff

    People wake up, this is like my kids fighting over what cartoon to watch on the television. If this is how our leaders are to act in public then I am ashamed.
    I mean get real America, a grown man and a grown woman that can make history if elected president acting like two little children in the public eye, its no wonder that both will end up losers on the front page!

    January 29, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  23. Karla

    It was a snub! I can only imagine if the situation were reversed! Obama should take his toys and go home!

    January 29, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  24. Alice

    Obama – your diaper is on fire

    Time for – LOL – "change"

    January 29, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  25. Patye

    Obama Gump was running ads on cable networks...he already can't stick to a promise...he was the one that was sneaky...Hillary was down in Florida for private fundraisers...

    January 29, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
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