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. tracey


    January 29, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  2. Philip

    So Barack says he didn't mean to:

    1.) push the wrong lever at least five times when voting in the Illinois legislature (and we might give him the football??!!)

    2.) be contrite when he said "you're likeable enough Hillary."


    3.) snubs his opponent and is a sore winner



    January 29, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  3. To AJAY

    You are obviously a racist. What gets me is that the Clintons have ALWAYS supported African-Americans. Both Bill AND Hillary have made a lifetime of public service. As soon as an African-American runs for President, all the black "supporters" run away from the Clintons and flock to Obama. Are you even aware that the Clintons HELPED Obama in his bid for the Senate? Most people did not even know who Obama was until this past year.

    And as for the supposed accusations about the Clintons using race in the campaign . . . what a load of BS. I understood what Bill meant about the Obama campaign being a "fairytale" because I am not a moron. He was *obviously* talking about the promises Obama was making but showed no way of keeping. Obama does not have any substance. Yes, his rhetoric sounds good, but HOW is going to achieve what he wants to achieve? The fairytale is promoting all of these ideas without showing how you are going to implement them. The racists here are the people who were just waiting to pounce on anything the Clintons said so they could misconstrue it as racism. Just because the Clintons are white, it was *expected* that they would say something about race . . . THAT is racist.

    Obama wants to "unite" the country. He wants to give us all health care. He wants to fix the economy. Great! But HOW is he going to do it? Hillary has plans. She has made her plans public knowledge. Where are Obama's plans? has anyone else even noticed that obama's talk about 'hope" and "change" are an EXACT copy of bill Clinton's campaign?

    Can Obama talk a good talk even though he doesn't have the walk? YES, he can!
    Can Obama get people to forget about asking how he is going to achieve results? YES, he can!
    Can Obama attract people to his campaign even though he does not have the experience? YES, he can!

    Can Hillary fix our economy, get us health insurance, and repair our relations with other countries? YES, she can! And in some cases, she already has.

    January 29, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  4. Dolores

    He did not know what he was doing when he pulled those levers, he denies his relationship with now arrested on federal charges corrupt developer Rezcko, he voted present because he did not want to take a stand, he panders to every group and he snubs his leading opponent then says he did not see her there. Not only is Sen. Obama an obvious fake he is also not a very good sportsman. Didn't we just have eight years of the same old, same old? OK, so he gets an endorsement from America's daughter, albeit about 40 years ago, my generation totally missed that, and her lion of the Senate uncle. Call me crazy but I would not be running around bragging about the endorsement of a man that in spite of any good and great work he might have done, will at the end of the day, be remembered by one act of cowardice. Definitely not his brother, and the truth is we do not know which way his endorsement would have gone. Change. That is laughable from this camp.

    January 29, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. Baimba Kamara

    From the photos, it appears that Obama was indeed turning away from Hillary. But I think we should also believe his explanation and not make an issue out of something that is completely insignificant. Let's focus on the more important issues that will make the US a better country on the globe.

    January 29, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. John NV

    LOL. Imagine Obama angry at Putin. God help all of us.

    January 29, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  7. Sophia

    Obama has snubbed Hillary for a second time in 3 weeks in front of the entire nation. This speaks volumes about his character, and about the "unity" he claims he will bring to the White House.

    January 29, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Gary of West Hollywood

    This is one tactic of the Obama camp to veer away from the main issue. Let us focus on the main issue now,. Bottomline is, Obama cannot deliver! Obama actually looked old having Ted Kennedy beside him, not good for your "young" voters. Remeber? No to status quo, No to old political clannish system? Whatever happened to that? Change of stand now?. Well, you better, you still have 7 days right? Anyway, whatever!

    HILLARY is being attacked in all sides and she is just keeping her calm. That is a true mark of a true and mature politician. She is the only one with the machinery to win this race to the White House. She will fight for all us suffering in this mess that we have right now. We need a candidate who will work hard for us, not only play rhetorics, that is HILLARY!

    January 29, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  9. New England


    January 29, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. Hope

    You know I would like to thank Doug Mills – the Times for the pictures. Also we would like to thank CNN's Jessica Yellin for her story. Great job on capturing the true Obama. Let the show begin

    January 29, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. RedSea Foreign National

    Well if everyone wants to stick the issues, then I have some facts!

    Source, so you can check yourself is congress.org, where you can check the voting records of ALL members of the congress and senate. I downloaded the voting records of Obama and Hillary into an excel spreadsheet and did my own analysis, and the results:

    Obama missed 254 votes in hs first three years as a US senator, amounting to 35% the time 'not voting'

    Hillary missed 143 votes in 7 years as a US Senator, half as many votes serving more than twice as long, amounting to less than 5%.

    Obama's and Hillary's voting record on the war in Iraq are identicle.

    Source: thewaybackmachine.org which provides historical versions of websites can be used to show that it is true that Obama took speeches off of his website where he spoke in support of the war and said he did not know how he would have voted!

    So this is in fact an issue, because it proves Obama's position on the war is a fairy tale, and that he is claiming to be the innocent victim again, and I am sure after he loses the democratic nomination he will file a lawsuit against the Clintons for racial discrimination!

    I will not even bring up the information about Rezco or his lies about his religious practice because they really do not matter, or the comments of Reverend Jesse Jackson! I think this is enough for now!

    This is why he could not look her in the eye! Where I agree that Hillary made too much of a big deal about his Reagan and Republican flub, this is all she did by mistake, and Obama is the one twisting facts and attacking her first. He is playing the media big time, and while he is not playing the race card, his wife is playing the race card big time! Look up some of her speeches on the campaign trail!

    Did you know the first story about his snub first appeared about 15 hours ago, but initially all posts were prevented, then the story reappeared at the top roughly 10 hours later with moderated comments from Obama added, and now posts were allowed. Then roughly three hours later this second story it reappears as a headline about Obama with a different picture, and the story being his innocent victim response! Do you think he is not behind this? I am all over this guys games!

    Good for Hillary to snub CNN!

    Oh do you mean stick to economic issues or something like that? I read Obamas issues page and he is not qualified in economics or foreign policy, so the only issue is to expose him and the truth so we can first have a selection of qualified candidates!

    January 29, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  12. Edward Lynn

    Please, for the love of our country people... ISSUES!! Not horse race, not soap opera, not tit for tat, not "ballot bowl"... ISSUES!! CNN, for the sake of our democracy and the standing of the First Amendment upon which you thrive, COVER ISSUES!!

    January 29, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. Ashes

    Because she isn't campaigning in Florida. All the dems agreed not to, but are allowed to do fundraising (which is what she's doing.) Obama is the only one who has been accused of breaking those rules because he bought National AD time for commericals on several networks. Those commericals then ran in Florida.
    Read the articles about it carefully, the headlines are misleading.

    al wrote:
    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 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  14. Salida

    "To the folks that say this snubbing issue was no big deal . . .

    What you don't understand is that this shows the character of obama. Just like the "you're likeable enough hillary" comment. both actions were rude and disrespectful. but if you pay any attention to the debates, you will notice that obama is very condescending to hillary, but not to john. this just very sexist."
    Daniel January 29, 2008 7:28 pm ET

    I am glad someone also observed this. I thought I was the only one. He speaks to her like, she should not even be present let alone speak while the men are speaking. I do find him very disrespectful, arrogant and condescending to Senator Clinton. In the early stages of the campaign, while she addresed him as Senator Obama, he called her Hillary. I think she has been advised now to refer to him as Barak. I think Obama thinks he is owed this Presidency because he is black and he use that underthought to sway people. And the media gives him all of this free ride.

    I do not think he will like it if his wife was in a competition and another candidate treated her as he does Senator Clinton. I am a black woman and I find his treatment of Senator Clinton very disturbing (not only with this supposed snub). I hope most people who support him are gradually observing this. We have enough problems in the world with a President who is considered arrogant and thinks he can do everything on his own and no one is to question him. Obama shows similary characteristics. If someone stands up to him, he keeps a grudge, does not want to speak to to the person or talks to the person showing his finger begining with "understand this..." The candidates are all professional, intelligent adults. Now granted, there is no love lost, you have to be blind not to see that but a leader should be diplomatic no matter what circumstance and he does not exhibit that. He may also need turoring in diplomacy if he is President. I hope you're all ready for that because the world will not deal with someone who is so arrogant. CNN, post this, please.

    January 29, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. Bryant

    Like some (including al) pointed out, this is a GREAT way to take the focus off the REAL issues, such as Hillary breaking her agreements with the DNC 3 times–in Nevada, where her camp agreed to extra caucuses along the Vegas strip, then sued to have those same caucuses removed RIGHT AFTER the Nevada unions endorsed Obama–and now pleading for Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated, after she was conveniently the only major nominee not to pull her name off the Michigan ballot and then campaign in Florida.

    Wake up, people...the wool is being pulled over our eyes again. Are we REALLY going to base our votes for the next U.S. President–possibly the most important decision of our lifetime–on a sensationalist article and awkward photo that belongs in a gossip magazine and not a "news" website?

    Vote for who you want, but do it based on the issues and not on this silliness!

    January 29, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  16. Alice

    Obama seems to be Black only when it suits him – much like OJ and Michael Jackson

    At least Al Sharpton is always Black – hafta give him that much credit, at least.....

    However, when it might hurt the crybaby, he tunes down the racist baloney, which even he must recognize the majority of the country is sick of

    Witness his embrace of Teddy and his almost hysterical glee when he was noticed by the TOTAL anti-Black – George W. Bush

    Obama is only Black when he thinks crying "racist" will win him a few more Black votes

    Hey, why not? It worked in SC

    Unfortunately for the crybaby, SC hasn't really been a historical winning place

    For Blacks or Whites –

    Too bad for you, crybaby

    January 29, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  17. Alex

    To Ginness2050: According to General Election polling, Obama has a bigger lead over the republicans than Hillary does. Just a heads up.

    January 29, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  18. ali

    I tend to see it as a childish thing to do but my husband thinks if he did shake her hand he would have been a big phony considering what the Clintons have done to bring him down. Consider how McCain practically licked Bush's boots like a little dog after Bush destroyed him when they were running against each other and how McCain came across as a phony wuss. I guess you have to do what you think feels right in the situation and take your hits afterward.

    January 29, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  19. Chris

    Not only do people vote for a candidate because of race or gender, but also who snubs the most people.

    January 29, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. bhagwan deol

    It is not ethical for the media to creat sensation. i think both the persons are mature enough to greet each other.
    Although obama got many endorsements but i will take them with a pinch of salt.
    today,s voters are more active and some of them does not care about endorsements from politicians at least.
    if obama is preaching for change then he should practice it too by not leaning on the shoulders old pillars of old regimes. he sould walk the walk.
    he will not win against republicans and it will be a lost oportunity for democrats and people of america to rid themselves of the bush doctrine.
    Hillary is the only choice and she will be the only choice at the convention.
    so let us enjoy the fanfare but with civility and media must play a positive role in it
    bhagwan deol

    January 29, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  21. Philip


    You walked over and shook Puppetmaster's hand.

    What a gracious lady you are!



    January 29, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  22. Max C


    Clinton didn't wait to shake hands with the gentelmen senators, so don't know what year you're in, but she's certainly not building a bridge to victorian times...hello.

    As for the "snub" whatever. Just think who you want with Putin et al in the G8 summit.

    January 29, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  23. Philip

    Ted Kennedy is Barack's Cheney!

    January 29, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  24. rese

    I believe Obama and McCaskill because they both were there this is another one of Hillary Clinton tricks again same bull different day
    time for a change

    January 29, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  25. stan pitts pa

    CNN = CLINTONS NEWS NETWORK, stop disrespecting the voters of America , florida doesnt count!

    January 29, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
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