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. JS

    Really... this is what American politics has turned into, an awkward moment caught on camera that no one writing in actually saw in person!!?? People please there are far more important issues then who shook hands with who. Move on!

    January 30, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  2. JOHN

    This is exactly what happen with the race issue and the religion issue with Obama. He is lying that they are not the ones starting the race issue to help the in Carolina primary and through it to Hillary and Bill. You think we do not know how the advisors behind you and and Hillary. But Obamas advisors think that we are all stupid and we will not read thru the lines. And as of the "high end endorsements that Obama is very proud of " are all 65 year old and up (John Kerry, Kennedy, etc, 0 non of them represent the new world a world of change. No new faces, young new ideas, only old same ideas. So do not represent Clinton as past. You are embrasing the past.

    January 30, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  3. Alice in Florida

    OH, I just took another look at the above picture, and NOW I get it

    McCaskill is a ventriloquist! Of course! She can ask the crybaby liar a question without even moving her lips!!!!

    Wow – !

    January 30, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  4. Ivy

    This is not High School Hillary, grow up!

    January 30, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  5. I know

    Give me a freakin break, seriously.

    January 30, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  6. John Hartmann

    Barak Obama would make a great President. So would Hilliary. This forum must have been a call in by Republican voters who fear Obama and want Hilliary to run against one of their "backed by swiftboater's" candidates. I do agree though that concentration on this nonevent should be relegated to Fox News junkies.

    January 30, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  7. Tonia

    So what if he did ignore her! People have the right to speak if they want and if they don't feel like being cordial at that moment, it's not a crime! I'm sure if you've been at odds with someone that you had a disagreement with u would definitely understand. Obama is human and has feelings so maybe this was a moment that he decided to agree to disagree and keep to himself!

    January 30, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  8. I know

    Give me a freakin break, seriously.

    January 30, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  9. Ryan

    This is ridiculous. I cannot grasp why in the world they are reporting on something so trivial and meaningless. Same goes for all this stuff about Bill vs. Obama, Hillary vs. Obama, McCain vs. Romney etc. that they(News Agencies) perpetuate. You're reporting the news not giving you're two cents about it and making up grandeur accusations and stories about how someone's body language may or may not have meant something. Save this stuff for a political commentary or discussion group. Although I guess it is the "Political Ticker" , and it is filled with a great amount of useless information so we all better get used to it.

    January 30, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  10. John, Kansas City, MO

    nearly 1500 comments on something the media blew up to distract us from what is important...great, no wonder the country is sliding into the 7th circle of hell.

    January 30, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  11. Carol

    Honestly people, is this really that important? The media and each and every one of you are buying into the hype and drama that is going to derail the Democratic Party in this election. If Hilary supporters want to cast stones, let's talk about South Carolina – she was headed out of town before the polls closed and refused to give a concession speech despite the fact that she lost by a huge margin. Both Obama and Edwards have at least had the respect for their supporters to stick around and thank them win or lose.
    And then there's Michigan and Florida. Despite the fact that the party stripped both of these states of their delegates... Hilary (wih a wink) kept her name on the ballot and has pledged to get these delegates seated at the convention. Living in your own small world, you can try to convince yourself that she's doing it for the residents of the state that "she believes should have a chance to voice their opinions." Truth be told – she simply sees an opportunity for an advantage and will once more attempt to manipulate the system to work for her instead of against her. Recommended reading for those of you who thinks she can run this country ..."Whitewash, what the media won't tell you about Hilary Clinton but the conservatives will." by L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham.

    January 30, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  12. sammy

    Seriously, are we really making this an issue?!!!! This is soooooooo dumb...it makes me feel like the press thinks we are all idiots. Can you please just report on the more pressing issues like the state of the economy or the cost of health care and quit looking for issues where there are none???!!!

    January 30, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  13. Colleen

    who cares

    January 30, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  14. HHH

    This is just something else to distract TRUE VOTERS from the issue. Barack hold strong and continue your campaign in the manner you alway has.

    Style, grace, intelligence. you have the WHOLE PACKAGE and that is why the attacks keeps coming your way.

    Obama 08'

    January 30, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  15. Kevin

    All of them are liars, crooks, and thieves.

    January 30, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  16. kruck

    LOL!!!!!!!! Talk about snubbing someone. Look at the tape again and tell me what president George Bush did to senator Obama wasn't a snub! (after the state of the union address as the president left the room shaking hands he snubs Obama!)

    January 30, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  17. Evan

    Oh man. This just in. Obama snubbed Clinton again!! It turns out when Senator Obama needed to go to the bathroom, he purposely didn't use the same bathroom as Senator Clinton.

    When asked to comment, Obama said, "Come on everyone. She's a woman and I don't do my business in the ladies room!!"

    CNN made this their headline story the next day.

    January 30, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  18. Beth

    So what? What do you expect in the middle of a heated, and increasingly personal, campaign? Could the press coverage be any more trivial and irrelevant to the decisions facing voters regarding these candidates' positions on the issues? I for one could not care less who snubbed who. I want to know which candidate is most likely to restore the rule of law, reinstate habeas corpus, unequivovcally ban all torture and so called "enhanced interrogation" techniques, require search warrants for wiretapping, and so forth.

    January 30, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  19. Andy, Waltham MA

    Poor Hillary! How dare Obama snub her like that! You hurt her feelings Mr Obama!
    You need to apologize to her! She is kind of sensitive you know, and a lot of people are feeling sorry for her, and so they're changing their minds to vote for her instead of you, to hold the most important office in the world!

    Well folks, it's because of great decision making like this that we ended up with W. Keep it up America!

    January 30, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  20. Amy

    I'm sorry, but what does Obama possibly snubbing or not snubbing Hillary have to do with whether or not I'm going to have social security? Or when we're getting out of Iraq? Or improving healthcare?...

    January 30, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. James

    He probably did snub her; so it's unbecoming. I cant belive the post ing I read saying Clinton staged this, people are over analyzing this way to much, if only we gave the real issues this same microscopic analysis. Hillary is clearly the more qualified candidate. Remember she has been to over 80 countries reperesenting the United States. SHe is one of the most intelligent and accomplished women our country has ever produced. 36 months ago Obama was in the state senate. 36 months!! I cant believe it's evven a race. A US senator for 2 years and most of the time promoting his book and running for President. At least Hillary gave us a few years as a senator. VOTE HILLARY SAVE OUR COUNTRY!!!

    January 30, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  22. Ann

    Shame on you CNN, allowing the Jennie Lee comment about
    Hillary. You allowed a reader to attack at a personal level.
    In the end it won't matter, Obama is gathering more and more
    steam ... and it's all negative. It seems that the more he is out
    in public, the more negative the comments get..

    I believe for Obama it is already over...the American public from
    the beginning was not thrilled to see Oprah jump onboard, she
    comes into our living rooms each day and we needed to believe
    she was neutral territory... we were wrong.

    Senator Kennedy's endorsement is actually working for Hillary,
    not against...he is old school Democrat and that is what Americans
    don't want.

    This is just a Republican watching the race with interest.

    January 30, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  23. beth

    Big deal.

    I distinctly recall the State of the Union from a few years ago when the camera zoomed in on Hillary, clapping in a very sarcastic, obnoxious way and basically rolling her eyes at the president. Very unflattering. At that point in time, I didn't have a strong opinion of Hillary either way, but that moment is forever etched in my mind.

    While I dislike George Bush immensely, attending the State of the Union and then behaving in such an unflattering manner was very indicative of Hillary's demeanor.

    It was unpatriotic, disrespectful, and appeared extremely petty. As I said, I can't stand George Bush, but her body language was awful and certainly unbecoming to a senator (and eventual presidential hopeful).

    January 30, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  24. Boomer

    This is just a sample of what we would see if Obama were President. Arrogance. This country cannot handle that all over again.

    January 30, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. Bill

    I did not snub that woman........ Ms. Clinton. I never asked anyone to lie.... not a single time!

    January 30, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
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