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. Doris

    This feud is getting old. Either choice of candidate is going to be alot better than what the Rep's have to offer, as far as policy. They are both damaging themselves in the general election with this bitter feuding and it needs to stop. McCain is looking like the nice rational one, and he is going to scate in even though his policies will do nothing but keep the rich getting richer and keep us in war forever!

    January 30, 2008 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  2. Amy-Cincinnati

    CNN, please give me some real news. This is tabloid fodder and nothing more.

    January 30, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  3. A.S. Tamarac, FL

    First of all, I happen to believe that both Obama and Clinton are acting like children. This election is so important, why can't they keep to the issues that involve ALL of us and not spend the time squabbling like kids? How can we expect the population of the world to get along when minutiae can get in the way of our own people??? And we wonder why people are going to war!
    Second of all, once again our media spends their time on total nonsense instead of concentrating on what is important. In a time when the media can concentrate day after day about the childish behavior of certain (and you should excuse the expression) celebrities, can we expect them to have our best interests at heart either? Anything to sell newspapers and TV time. It's no wonder that other countries look at us like a country of buffoons – how could they take us seriously?Thanks for letting me express my opinion!

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

    Facts: The Clintons are desperate, hence their sleazy attempt to claim victory in Florida where she previously promised not to campaign...Democrats now know that when the Clinton's are cornered they will do anything, say anything. Quite simply, the Clintons can't win in November because Americans are turned off by them. The Clintons do not have the youth vote, Barack does. My 22 year old niece's sweatshirt says it all: Clinton=Yesterday, Obama=Tomorrow!"

    January 30, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  5. Patye

    Hillary was taking the high road last night...while all the Papparazzo Pundit were trying to bait her she stayed positive.....but the first words out of the Obama camp were negative saying the Floridians votes did not matter...that she won a beauty contest...Gog forbid if Hillary had made that same statement....the press would have pummeled her....well I hope that the 800,000 plus Florida voters remember what Obama said when the general election takes place.....but I am sure Obama wil say thats not what I meant...well, when is this fast talker going to tell us what he does mean???

    January 30, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  6. Military man

    I can truly say that everyone in here is really ignorant. As a military man for over 20 years we had enough of the Clinton's. She didn't respect us when she was First Lady and she won't now. What experience other than treat us like crap? I don't want to see the same thing again. I want something fresh in the White House. If everyone here is judging Obama because of what happen last night then each and every one of you need to go back in training. The Clinton did a lot of damage and people don't see it. Yes, I'm a minority and I can truly say she have taken advantage of us. Look at Puerto Rico right now. Sen Clinton was at the Puerto Rican Parade promoting the exiting of Military out of Vieques and now they are hurting. She just did it to get votes to win the senate and I must say we are ignorant to believe in her. She will never get my vote. I want some one new in DC and "Obama" will be the man. So, in closing STOP BEING SO IGNORANT. Let CNN report what ever they want to report...

    January 30, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  7. sal

    so what if he snubbed her or if she snubs him? do they have to pretend to like each other? are we going to elect a president on his politeness index? me? i like hillary and i also like obama. what to do...what to do...?

    January 30, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  8. yvonne

    Good Morning,
    I do believe that Senator Obama turned his head,he feels now that the Kennedy's are backing him that he can do this. I sense a under cover attitude,the Senator is not as sweet as he is trying to come off as. I do also believe that wisdom and experience is needed in the white house.Many people can give good speeches they have the ability to talk,but talk is cheap,talk is not enough. Clinton has the experience needed,she has been in the trenches for a long time.We can go back and view her record as a young woman and see her fighting for causes that would benefit others. I am a african american woman who feels that women all over should stand up and vote for Senator Clinton,women have been looked over in society long enough. The white house is not just a house for men, Senator Clinton is capable she has proven this time and time again that she can stand up under tremendous pressure.

    January 30, 2008 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  9. michael, oklahoma City

    OK, listen I am a democrat and I support Hillary. Both sides need to take a step back and stop this back and forth because we are loosing the focus on the important issue at hand. We all can spin this 500 ways he snubbed he didn't snub, honestly I don't care. What I do care about is that we are a stronger party then we were 8 years ago and are we going to do what we are best at and throw another election away because of stupid things like this. I happen to like Obama but my reason for Hillary is on part with the experience. I would love to see a Hillary/Obama 08 ticket because with experience and optimism we could restore Hope.

    January 30, 2008 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  10. Sasha

    I waited for Obama's statement on what really took place and I got to say it is OBAMA YOU ARE LYING it was a complete snub on your part.
    As a woman I was disgusted and I think it was rude of you. She is older and much wiser and it’s about time you show some respect not only to Hillary but too any of your opponents.

    Obama you can't spin this one with your fancy and sweet words. Hillary has said repeatedly your actions don’t match your words and most times your words don’t match your actions.
    You definitely turned your back at her and it says a lot about your personality and leadership style.

    If you can't reach to your opponents whether you like them or not to get the job done you wont be an effective leader.


    January 30, 2008 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  11. Amy in Cincy

    Give me some real news, CNN. This is nothing but tabloid fodder.

    January 30, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  12. pd

    We need to back Hillary Clinton for president – she supports all the people for the people. We need her to change the direction of healthcare and improve our infrastructure in the USA. Obama keeps saying he will pull out of Iraq asap – this is totally impossible for a very long time. Why does Obama say things that seem very questionable.

    January 30, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  13. Frank Mancuso

    I could care less who snubs who. I care that whoever gets the Democratic nod can lead the county and get us out of this mess were in.

    January 30, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  14. Joseph


    January 30, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  15. I'm Moving To Canada

    I also heard that a Republican candidate decided to east some bad tacos before the State of the Union address. I'm not voting for someone who has bad gas during official speeches. Ugh.

    Please people. This is not news. This is not anything to make judgements on. We DO NOT know what really happened here, photos or videos or 3D holograms or whatever.

    Make your decisions on the real issues, and who will have the respect in the world (yes, there is a large world west of Los Angeles/east of New York) in order for our great nation to become a leader of peace and stability.

    January 30, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  16. Mike

    Is there someone out there that thinks this is a REAL issue, and actually CARES that this even made the news?

    January 30, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  17. Kim

    This is a non-issue BUT if there was a snub it was on Senator Clinton's part.

    If she even intended to shake Senator Obama's hand, why didn't Senator Clinton extend her hand to him first since Obama was closer to the aisle? Instead she reaches past him to Senator Kennedy. Did anybody think about that?

    January 30, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  18. Steven

    It really looked like he snubbed her!
    I have a question about the electoral votes not being counted in Michigan and Florida primary/caucas for the Democrats–Will there be any consideration (if it is close between the top two candidates) that the majority of Democrats in these two states voted for Clinton?
    Also, how many more states do not count for Demorat electoral votes? How many more people do not get their voice heard????

    January 30, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  19. Lisa Salt Lake City, Utah

    When Mitt Romney repeatedly call Osama bid Laden "Barack Obama" , Obama made light of it. When Joe Biden referred to Obama as clean and articulate, Obama said that he is sure Biden didn't mean anything negative. Obama has repeatedly given other candidates the benefit of the doubt. The uncropped photo shows clearly that Obama was not snubbing Hillary. Yet the cropped photo is the one being used again and again.

    Why does the media what to protray Obama as being "rude". When Rudy was mentioning the other candidates, and initially forgotten Ron Paul (until someone in the audience reminded him); or when McCain mentioned everyone but Ron Paul as the other candidates – where's the headlines on every station, in every paper about McCain snubs Ron Paul?

    The Obama- Clinton drama seems to be more important because America expects Blacks to treat women with a different standard that White men treat White men.

    Where was the headlines about the Hillary snub on Meet the Press and after the State of the Union when she wasn't prepared to speak "candidly" until she had a chance to get her people to tell her how to respond?

    January 30, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  20. Jane

    Hillary, didn't steal the spotlight in Florida ; she WON it. She came to Florida after the election to thank supportors. I call that a gracious LADY. What we need in the WHITE HOUSE is someone who can handle any situation and not turn away ..

    January 30, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  21. Tijani Hakeem

    How can a man lie about what a video shows clearly. The person hew claimed he was saying something to him have her both palms locked together, so what kind of greeting was he greeting.
    I beleive in good sportsmanship in any game. Obama sholud stop playing victim. Experienc cannot be replaced with pedigree. All Hail President Hilary Clinton


    January 30, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  22. Jessica

    THIS is the kind of thing thats important to you people? "WAHHHH HE DIDN'T SHAKE HER HAND!! BURN HIM!!!!!!" no wonder britney spears is headline news over the war in iraq and america manages to put in more votes for "americal idol" than they do for the individual who'll be running this country.

    January 30, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  23. Chief

    It's amazing to see that this is one of the most commented stories that I've read in CNN's election coverage. The sentiment that Obama is a terrible candidate because he snubbed Hillary reveals the flawed logic of the American people when it comes to electing a leader for this country. We're voting for President, not homecoming queen. Clinton and Obama look nearly identical on paper, but I'm an independent voting for Obama, because despite the snub, I think he has more integrity. I really believe he's a uniter and not a divider. His "lack" of experience is also a draw for me, because I don't think the Washington machine has its hooks as deeply into him yet. He's idealistic; he's hopeful; he's not going to give America the same old rhetoric we've gotten from our president for the last 2+ decades. For the sake of the country, people, please pick your candidate based on a reason other than who's less rude.

    January 30, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  24. Stephanie

    Is this really the only negative CNN can report on Obama?
    I have been an avid CNN watcher for 10+ years and I am shocked by
    the dog and pony show they have put on for Obama.
    I know his story is much more romantic but does that make him the better canidate for right now?
    Come on CNN you aren't reading the pulse of the people, get with it!
    Nothing against Obama in 8 years he will be a GREAT president!
    But today we need a President to clean up the mess from the last 7 +years.
    We need a experienced, hard nosed, get it done now President.
    Hillary Clinton is the only canidate that has what it takes NOW!

    January 30, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  25. Zach

    All the establishment politicians are endorsing Obama as they believe he is one of them. The media continues to blow out of proportion things coming out of the Clinton campaign and ignores when it is from Obama's side. The Obama campaign manager continues to belittle Florida win of Senator Clinton. I bet if it had been the other way around CNN and others would be playing it over and over. The American people don't want the media to decide which candidate is to become the next president. Give the people news about the candidate's posiitons on substantive issues, not who is turning away from whom.

    January 30, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
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