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. Carol J.

    PLEASE, JUST STOP AND THINK FOR ONE MOMENT.............Can anyone seriously believe that Senator Obama is so stupid as to deliberately snub Senator Clinton in front of all of Congress and in front of ALL America watching this on national television? PLEASE, JUST STOP AND THINK FOR ONE MOMENT.... and put this silliness to rest !!!

    January 29, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. jeannette

    I find it sad that the Kennedy Clan would exploit the legacy of John F. Kennedy, especially Caroline, to promote their personal political agenda. There is no comparison between Obama and John F. Kennedy so that tells me that the Kennedys have an ax to grind with the Clintons. What else could it be?

    January 29, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  3. Man CA

    If Obama is not able to stand up and fight back with two H.Clinton and B. Clinton. If he can not win the two. How we bilive him win 100, 10000, 100000 the people in the United States. How can he dose the jobs as a President to this country. Maybe this why Ted Kennedy standed up for Obama and like father and son.
    Ted Kennedy want to be Obama's Cheney!

    Go Hillary!
    Go Bill!

    We love you!

    January 29, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. Fem4Hillary

    Julie – READ the article

    It CLEARLY says Ted Kennedy reached over to shake Hillary's hand, at that moment Obama turned to look at the back of the room not the other way around.

    Message to Ted Kennedy: You MUST ASK PERMISSION FROM MR. UNIFIER aka Obama before shaking any of his enemies hands! LOL

    I can see why he doesn't know what lever to pull...he has hardly voted on anything! How can he know?? LOL


    January 29, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  5. Rob

    This is the dumbest comment on the speech I have ever heard. I can't believe any of you believe a presidential campaign would come down to something as silly as this! Get a life!

    January 29, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  6. LL, Columbia, SC

    seriously, the Clinton supporters have nothing legitimate to attack Obama on, so they have to hype this thing. It is really just that anything-to-win mentality that one has come to expect from the Clinton camp.
    If she was really above it all, she could come out and say that it was not a snub in public the way she has in private.

    January 29, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  7. Kathy

    Ted Kennedy can only cast one vote, just like you and me. People need to pay attention to the issue and how each candidate feels about the issues and will that bennifit or fits your values. Please don't pay attention to endorsements. Remember Ted Kennedy can only cast one vote just like I can only cast one vote.

    When Barrack was in S. Carolina he sounded like Martin Luther King had been reincarnated.

    What bothers me is that he identifies with being black when it bennefits him. Remember his father was not appart for most of his life. His caucasion mother and relatives have given him an opportunity to Americas finest education possible.
    The man is for change, change when it suits him.

    January 29, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  8. Geri

    For a change CNN said something that wasn't negative about Clinton & Obama people go nuts. The primaries in Florida are on now and while the democratic delegates are out, Clinton did win & CNN is all over her being there and saying anything & Obama issued an off the wall statement. CNN is backing Obama and this little article about the snub is just a grain of sand compared to the mound of sand they give Obama. May his lying fanny end up in the same place as his buddy that he only did "5 hours"" of work for. Afrocan Americans should shudder that this biracial man claims to be a brother.

    January 29, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  9. Rol

    I think that was very rude of Obama to keep looking back and ignoring Hilary gesture. Obama really disappointed me and I think that he his not practicing what he his preaching. That is clearly a bad example of someone who wants to bring unity to this country.

    January 29, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. Patye

    I hope Floridians remember on Election day in the General Election that the Obama camp when asked about tonights Clinton win in Florida stated that those votes don't really matter.... 51% of democrats voted for Hillary this evening, that's roughly over a half million Floridians so far....I would say that it matters alot...about a half million worth

    January 29, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. Golden CA

    Forget democrat and vote Republican for 2008. We need to find a president work for people of the United States. "Bringing the Universe together to live as one"? O-ya, I give my blood money and you will say I am your brother! O-ya, we are together to live as one! Give me a breack!

    GO Hillary 2008!
    Go Hillary 2008!
    We love you!
    Fight, fight, and fight and all the way upto wilte house!
    Go Bill!
    Go Bill!
    We love you to help your wife, who is great woman!

    We love to see Hillary and Bill in CNN!

    January 29, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  12. Susan in orlando

    If Obama cannot maintain a friendly, diplomatic front with a member of his own party and shake hands with her, what is he going to do with difficult foreign leaders? Is he going to look the other way and hope they will quietly disappear?? Not likely!

    January 29, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  13. M

    Obama should have just been honest. His credibility is falling with me. If he is so immature that he can't shake Clinton's hand, how would he handle others that will disagree with him as president. As president, would he snub 50% of the congress and millions of American Republicans, as well as many Democrats, who will inevitably not agree with him?

    January 29, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  14. Alice in Florida

    Yo, SC hicks – the TRUE candidate for change just won a decisive victory in a state that has really counted in the past – much unlike SC – witness Jesse and Edwards

    Crybaby Obama – twist this anyway you can – call it a beauty contest or a racist thing, whatever

    You can't beat it – maybe our delegates won't be seated – who cares?

    In the REAL contest, at least this time, maybe our votes will count – a Bush is no longer Governor of my great state – THANK GOD for small – or maybe great? favors

    Obama – let's face it – you will lose all the states that matter

    You've already lost in one of them

    SC is small potatoes......it's been proven before

    So is an endorsement from Ted Kennedy – he probably has smaller potatoes than even SC

    I'd be willing to bet on it!

    January 29, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  15. Jose Card - Independent

    An inspiring person must also be honest, gracious and courageous. Thanks for your well said comment below!

    "I remember when Joseph Biden made a comment about Obama being one "… who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking …..".

    Obama later went on record to say he didn't think Joseph Biden meant to hurt any one. He was at least courageous enough to comment on the issue, even though he would have benefited politically by remaining quite.

    Where is the Hilary Clinton's comment confirming or denying whether Obama actually waved to her earlier when entering the Senate Chamber?

    Or let me think why Hillary hasn't made a comment?

    Likely answer! Always the calculating Clintons!

    She should have at least commented either positive or negative, just like Obama did on Jaseph Biden's incidence. Just some thought!."

    January 29, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. John ny, ny

    McCaskill and Obama are trying to justify this nonsense. McCaskil please go and change Obama's diaper while you are at it.

    January 29, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  17. J.J. Forbes, an independent thinker

    So what is the point? I guess that Hillary didn't go over and try to shake Obama's hand either. She should've, even if he "turned his back" on her when she came over. If Hillary had been polite and tried to shake Obama's hand and he refused, that might be something worth noting. This? No way.

    January 29, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  18. thebear

    Give it a break there are much bigger fish to fry between these two. They are both arrogant to a certain degree. Goes along with the territory. Where do they stand on the issues? Who can best represent and unite our country?

    January 29, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  19. Nikole

    Now let's all go read the story where Obama goes to shake HRC's hand at a debate and she ignores him. CNN, please drudge that story up. I am sure it didn't have nearly as many comments as this one.

    January 29, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  20. dsj

    For those who think they know Obama, tell me this. They just ran a piece on World News Tonight that had been updated from a previous segment on Obama's questionable real estate deal with the slumlord. At worst it was a stupid thing to do according to Obama anyway. He says it was innocent but those who look further into it say it was oviously a "crafty" deal. If Obama can't get a piece of real estate right, then he can't do the big tasks! AND Suddenly, Obama has "yet again increased" the amount of his campaign's donations to charity as a result from money from this slumlord. Why is this donation amount still being increased (just under 150,000) if he has cut ties with these people? Does anyone have an answer to this? The money is obviously increasing, not the reverse. Think about it.

    January 29, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  21. kim

    What did Hillary say to Ted, "Thanks for the sucker punch this morning" ??????

    January 29, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. dsj

    Why did CNN moderator remove my comments about Obama calling Clinton's win in FL a Beauty Contest, clearly a sexist comment. Also, that he's hypocritical for doing the same thing that she does, questioning the record, etc. She's not bringing up the gender card so he shouldn't bring the race or gender card in. CNN shouldn't delete decent opinions they don't agree with.

    January 29, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  23. Tyler in Raleigh

    So you have your husband attack the crediblity and character of another candidate (worst yet, its liar incarnate Slick Willy) and then you want them to smile and shake your hand?

    Why is that??? So you can slap him while he leans in??

    Its time we snub both the Clintons and stop being civil to them.

    January 29, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  24. des

    Guys, Guys, did Hillary Clinton said something about all this? If not, she 's the one to blame! All these evil comments would'nt occur...

    January 29, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  25. carol

    I guess he and Oprah will now be sporting a Hispanic accent out on the campaign trail for the next two weeks.

    January 29, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
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