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. LL

    Is this really the most important story CNN could find to post online? How about we talk about the current economic crisis the country is facing? If we're writing about the presidential primary, how about we talk about something that is actually important? As was stated previously, Hillary was leaning forward to say something to Sen Kennedy. She wasn't speaking to Barack. Regardless, does this really matter in the scheme of things? Let's look at their individual records or what they believe in. That's what is important to make sure we make the best choice for the next president. We're probably going to need the next 4 years to clean up the mess that the current administration has made of this country so let's make sure the next administration will be able to do that! Also, whether he did or did not "snub" her intentionally, is everyone forgetting that we are all human beings? I agree with several other folks who have commented that it is time for CNN to actually report on important issues because this isn't one of them.

    January 30, 2008 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  2. eliza

    Does it actually matter? He probably didn't want to get into a picture w/ Kennedy shaking Clinton's hand, good grief, Obama had just made a coup in getting the Kennedy endorsement – but who knows whether Sen. McKaskill said anything to him or not – THIS IS NOT NEWS- it was a picture that was used to stir up trouble – the pundits on CNN and MSNBC are still saying "HIllary will win" well, she's not got the delegate lead now, and just because she went to FL to "declare" victory (for what? it wasn't a Dem. primary w/ delegates) doesn't me SHE"s the only viable candidate. I'm so tired of the newspeople making up stories, and the American public just going along – THINK of the BIG issues – not who shook who's hand. Obama has already PROVEN he has grace under pressure...he doesn't have to shake Hillary's hand to prove it- and it looks like it would have been awkward to get inbetween Kennedy and Clinton – so I think he SHOWED grace...leave him alone! (Edwards '08!!)

    January 30, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  3. Combatwoundedx2

    Don't worry, Hilary will win this nomination.

    January 30, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  4. democrat_2008

    Hail the great uniter ... we see your true colors (and don't like 'em)

    January 30, 2008 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  5. b

    Why is Gloria so hateful towards Clinton it is disgraceful,give the women her dues he snub her badly.

    January 30, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  6. Steve

    If Obama really stands for change, you would think he would be more cognizant of the things going on around him. What an immature action from one some people think is mature enough to be the leader of our country. I don't think so.

    Hillary 08

    January 30, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  7. John

    The least a candidate who wants our vote can do is to be HONEST with us. We are so hungry for HONESTY in our president. Don't tell us that what we saw in that video was just an illusion. Be honest and tell us that at that moment you were in no mood to talk to Hillary: We would appreciate this much more than a blatant lie. Mr. Obama, we need a president who is straight with us and who we can TRUST to represent us and work for us. If you are not honest on a small thing like this, how can we expect honesty in important things that really concern us!!!!!

    January 30, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  8. Tisha

    WHO CARES???!??!? Clinton was going for Kennedy ANYWAY, not Obama!! What was he supposed to do, completely interject himself in their conversation just because cameras were there?? Last time I checked, that would have been rude by etiquette standards! What is WRONG with you people??

    January 30, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  9. checkthisout

    I Repeat.

    Claire McCaskill was not asking a question at the time Sen Clinton and Sen Kennedy were shaking hands.

    Claire was clapping her hands.

    Obama's explanation sucks !!!

    January 30, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  10. Joe-Wilmington, DE

    Please stop wasting time and perfectly good mental energy on this subject.

    January 30, 2008 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  11. dkp

    In case you missed Vince's posting:


    January 30, 2008 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  12. JC

    The man needs to admit he snubbed her and move on . Can you imagine what this man could do to the leaders of other nations.

    January 30, 2008 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  13. z

    I would snub her, especially if she was running a disgustingly slick, dishonest, and dirty campaign... taking advantage of an uninformed electorate. Claiming she 'won' Florida when no one campaigned there... when Edwards and Obama didn't have a chance to make their name and voices known like she already has.


    If McCain is nominated and has an attractive VP, I may have to vote for him. Hillary is not change. Might as well stick to the same thing. At least McCain is more honest.

    January 30, 2008 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  14. Lydia

    Billary supporters...you need to stop acting like petulant children, latching on to whatever you can to gain an advantage. But I suppose we can't expect more from the supporters when you're taking your lead from Billary themselves.

    Rather than admit she and Obama had waved and acknowledged each other as they were coming into the chamber, she reveled in the negative press of the perceived snub by Obama and added fuel to the fire.

    What you Billary suppporters should be concerned about his Hillary's obvious snub of her supporters in South Carolina. She didn't even have the courtesy or decency to stay around to thank those who supported her yet she schedules a rally to thank voters in Florida whose votes don't even matter.

    January 30, 2008 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  15. Dylan from CA

    You people actually being naive enought to take this seriously sound like a bunch of gossipy little girls reading Us! Magazine. "Did Britney snub Justin??" This is a NON-STORY created by the media. Just like Howard Dean's yell four years ago.

    Get a clue people... Obama is one of the most genuine souls I've ever had the pleasure of seeing in politics. It is a breath of fresh air to have someone like him as a viable Presidential candidate. And for our party? How fortunate we are! I'm sick and tired of the hateful and vitriolic attacks being thrown at him from Clinton supporters. Frankly, you guys sound like a bunch of nasty Republicans who are supporting a candidate who has never seen bill increasing war spending or a check from a drug company that she didn't like. Michael Moore is 100% right about her.

    I never thought Bill and Hillary, two people I've always admired, would look so unattractive to me. I have always voted straight-ticket Democrat in every election, but unless Obama is our candidate I'll be voting Green for the first time. I just don't see much difference between Hillary and McCain to be honest.

    January 30, 2008 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  16. Bsethnj

    It is really a shame.. wouldn't it be great if regardless of who got the nomination, the other would be the VP candidate? How great would that be? Can't they make this less personal and just focus on their strengths instead of their opponent's weaknesses?

    Both of you.. get with the program.. and work together.

    January 30, 2008 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  17. Tom

    Obama looked straight down the entire time at the New Hampshire debate when John Edwards and he had obviously prearranged an attack by Edwards on Hillary Clnton. Once again he cannot look Hillary in the eyes. That tells me alot about Obama.

    January 30, 2008 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  18. Joe

    Are you kidding me? Who thinks this is an issue? If you think it is an issue, you probably don't have anything better to say about the future of our country.

    January 30, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  19. Joe

    Politicians use a lot of languages to communicate with the public. And this one body language from Obama tell it all. Snub he did Hillary!

    January 30, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  20. Dianne

    It is very clear Obama has a chip on his shoulder and yes he did snub Hillary. Thank you CNN for bringing fair reporting to light! Obama has clearley shown hismself as better than anyone.

    January 30, 2008 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  21. TexasMom

    Are we all in high school? Psst, Barack doesn't like Hillary, cause I SWEAR I saw him turn his back and you know my best friend's brother's worst enemy says it's cause they don't like each other...WHY is this even important? Big deal. Big freakin' deal. It's far more important that Senator Clinton is attempting to gain an unfair edge by seating FL and MI delegates than who talked to whom at the State of the Union address. Or who didn't talk to whom. Please recall that Senator Clinton is the one who has rolled her eyes, refused to applaud, and generally acted like a complete child at previous State of the Union addresses–and no one cared until someone seemed to not speak to her the other night. Jeesh, get a life, people.

    January 30, 2008 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  22. whatever.

    are we REALLY this upset that someone may or may not have talked to someone else? or that someone may or may not have NOT talked to someone else? since when did this cease to become a nomination process and all of a sudden become the junior high school cafeteria?

    January 30, 2008 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  23. Debbe

    So what if he did...what say he must "like" her? There are more important issues than if he says, they say.....

    January 30, 2008 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  24. TM

    IS Americans are fool?! If one candidate is not given sake hand to other, what you Americans will become poor. Common people look at your base issues, how many of you can say that I am rich enough to eat three times a day and live a normal life….. Majority of you will say no. Your leaders are cheating you for some times…. What you Americans achieve in last eight years in Bush’s rule, and what you people achieve in Clinton’s rule….both of them cheated you man,

    Common fellow Americans, please cast your votes based on the real issues you are facing and who support and promise to resolve all this. You will get only one chance, that the day you vote. So cast your vote, not based on silly issues like this. Don’t regrets later

    January 30, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  25. Mark

    Let's say Obama "snubbed" Clinton. Who really cares? After all, they're rivals. Would you prefer a candidate that is direct and straightforward, or one that is overly polished to the point of being fake? Personally, I'd prefer the former.

    January 30, 2008 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
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