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. Mimi

    to dynisay:

    The issues:
    1. Obama voted present for over 100 times.
    2. Obama (along with Edwards) supported the energy bill that subsidize big oil companies.
    And since sen Obama hasn't had much experience anyway, it's hard to pinpoint what he has really done.

    I don't buy empty promises like "change" either. If you want to buy a house, you would have to go through a credit score check to get the loan. Track record really mattes. Look at what subprime mortgage loans have cost us, and if we elect someone with NO EXPERIECE we will have to pay a much higher price!

    January 30, 2008 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  2. aaron

    who cares? not an issue

    and vote for hillary? well change the flag to a hammer and sickle! If all you over the top liberals even remember what that stand for?

    I have always been by nature Republican, Obama is the first Democrat since JFK it sis possible not to detest just because of his political affilitation.

    January 30, 2008 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  3. johnnie campbell

    i dont care cause i dont like either of them...

    January 30, 2008 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  4. BV

    Hi! I'm a Democrat.
    Please explain what this piece of 'news' has to do with ANYTHING involving Iraq, Health Care, or Job Creation in this Country.
    Thanks CNN!

    January 30, 2008 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  5. djunaedird

    Youuuu winner Obamaaaaaaaaaaaa. I hope from Indonesia.

    January 30, 2008 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  6. M. Brathwaite, Virgin Islands

    CNN you are definitely pro Clinton. I dont know who your writters and editors are but it is amazing to me how your stories on this campaign always have just enough of a twist to give the appearance that Hilary is the candidate worthy of the Presidency. Someone is always seen to be giving her an undeserved hard time or she is in your pictures smiling and waving to help erase that unlikable image America have of her.

    I dont know what it is about the Clintons and this Media network CNN but you are surely on their side.

    I will continue to say the Clintons are disingeneous with their politics how they used Senator Moynahan and New York as a stepping stone back to the White House carpet bagging and pork barreling her way to the nomination.

    Why dont the media ask Mrs. Clinton about that? Senator Pork Barrel or should I be kind and say earmarks.

    If they wanted to be back in the white House so bad then they should ask for an amendment to the constitution so Bill can run again.

    January 30, 2008 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  7. Woods

    I would snub her too, she has run a sleazy campaign....all you Hillary supporters might as well vote republican, because she will not win the general election. Obama would, strange how all of these prominent senators are endorsing Obama over Clinton, wake up!!!
    -We need more 'snub'

    January 30, 2008 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  8. Glen

    US Media..........Please grow up !!!

    January 30, 2008 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  9. Rayburn Taylor

    Who cares if a couple of Democratic lefties snub each other or not. I hope their party splinters into pieces and I hope Hillary and Bill make it happen. When will the media really look at OBama's accomplishments? Does he have any? Other than being black and securing the black block vote, which any Democrat automatically gets in a national election, what does he bring to the table other than his manner of speech which sounds a lot like Martin Luther King? When I see him and listen to him all I get is a sense of a puff of air. There is nothing. I don't think either will be president. If Hillary wins, which is the Democratic party's best chance, she will unite the republican party and that would be a good thing.

    January 30, 2008 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  10. Samuel

    Frankly, I believe Obama.

    However, if he did snub Clinton, so what? If ever there was a person who deserves to be snubbed it is that woman. Hillary is a creature of the establishment who will do absolutely anything to get elected, she manipulate and conniving, and she is the biggest phony I have ever seen in my life. Her entire persona is a fake shell.

    Let's stop pretending that these politicians should be polite to each other when we all know they hate one another. They're rivals. OMG he looked away from her, so what? That says nothing negative about him. The dude is a human.

    If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination I am going to vote third party. I refuse to vote for this horrible person. Please Obama win this.

    A Clinton nomination is a sign of cowardice by the Democratic base to go with the candidate who appears "safe," the standard establishment politician. The problem is the standard establishment politician is a corrupt, says nothing but bull, and is uninspiring. This cowardice led us to John Kerry in 04 and it may lead to Hillary in 08, which means McCain is our next President.

    January 30, 2008 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  11. sam atl

    For all thos who say 'it is a non issue' -

    How does Obama deal with congress, republicans, countries who oppose USA –

    BY JUST TURNING AWAY. I don't think this can bring 'change we can beleive in' or LED to beleive in..

    Beind idealistic one thing and actually practicing is another thing..

    OBAMA – I am very disappointed....

    January 30, 2008 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  12. Agyen, Toronto Canada

    Why should people be concern about these kind of unnecessary press. Let's talk about the real issues facing American people and the rest of the world; such as health care, the economy, jobs, the war in Iraq and all the tensions going on in African. Did he or not, will this help millions of children in need of health care?
    Come on AMERICA, LET US SMARTEN-UP. We know better!!

    January 30, 2008 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  13. B

    WHO CARES??????????

    January 30, 2008 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  14. Mike

    You are all insane. This isn't even an issue–remember when policies were important?

    January 30, 2008 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  15. Kim

    OK Senator Obama, just admit you don't like her. Don't lie about it. You have been caught wiht your pants down. Just amit it and go on.

    January 30, 2008 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  16. Seth

    It's the United States Congress, not a middle school lunchroom. Who cares?

    January 30, 2008 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  17. jim sisk

    From Oregon-
    Why not take Obama at his word and not look for hidden meaning or unintended significance? There are real issues defining and separating these two people, and a supposed lack of etiquette, intended or not, doesn't count for much.

    From my own personal perspective, there were enough things about the Clintons- their tendency toward secrecy, the way they went after enemies, and the complete disrespect B.Clinton showed for the respect and decorum of the office- to make me dubious of another Clinton era, regardless of the prosperity most of us enjoyed.

    January 30, 2008 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  18. ncm

    Frankly , It does matter wether he snubbed her or not.
    As somebodyelse said .
    This is not an issue!!!

    January 30, 2008 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  19. RyRy

    I wonder how many of the above comments were paid for by the Clinton campaign? I put your over/under at 50.

    January 30, 2008 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  20. j.brown

    The people here who are making an issue out of this help me understand how this country was dumb enough to elect Bush to two terms.

    January 30, 2008 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  21. chad

    hes a bigger man than I am, I would have told her off.

    January 30, 2008 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  22. Margaret from Kalamazoo

    They're opponents!!! How many football players in the upcoming Super Bowl would give a friendly greeting to one of their opponents if they were in that close of proximity at a public event this week. Come on! Let's stay focused on the issues!

    January 30, 2008 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  23. LiLo

    Grow up!!! Stop finding reasons to keep the drama going. It is shameful that we give this type of reporting this much energy.
    This is our country and the future of our children at stake. Lets stick to what really matters. Why ask someone to explain something if you are not ready to hear their explanation, but rather eager to judge it.
    Has attacking this man's integrity come down to this?

    January 30, 2008 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  24. John

    Obama... who's your mama

    January 30, 2008 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  25. Anonymous

    First, Senator Obama is giving her and Senator Kennedy a quiet moment. A few hours later, it was inadvertant.
    The president is the head of state. Their character is an election issue. Is this behavior, coupled with the "likeable enough" moment from the New Hampshire debate acceptable?

    January 30, 2008 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
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