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. Andria

    None of you have ever done something like this by mistake? Sure. Yours just wasn't nationally televised.

    January 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Hillbilly for Hillbilly

    Actually, I don't really care that Hillary gets snubbed. She gets snubbed all the time by important people so she probably doesn't even notice.
    But it is an opportunity to make fun of Obama's "I AM A UNITER" claim. Really, it's not that hard to practice what you preach for such a simple act.
    And no, I did not look at the picture. I read the whole article and was surprised that it's something not so positive about Obama for once.

    January 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. Dave

    Possibly the biggest non-story in the history of the 'Ticker". And that's saying something.

    Come on CNN, this isn't high school.

    January 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    And how did you get President Bush

    January 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. TEXAN for Hillary


    Didn't Hillary get judged by a picture as well. All I can say is....whatever, Obama! We've all done what you did last night. Grown adults have suddenly moved to a different aisle at the grocery story or quickly turn away to avoid someone we don't want to talk to. WE'VE ALL DONE THIS AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, AND IT'S BEEN DONE TO US. Obama knows what he did now live with it, Mr. Ego.

    January 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Tom

    I wouldn't want to shake Hillary's hand either. She'd crush my hand with her robotic death grip. She is, as we all know, a robot sent here from the future. I play piano, and my right hand is kind of a valuable commodity. So yeah, basically, I think it was a good decision on the part of Sen. Obama (who is a human). The only reason Ted survived the handshake is because he, much like Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man), was rebuilt by the US Government after the whole Chappaquiddick incident. They took quick action, as the doctor said, "we have the technology to rebuild this man..." Thus, he now has a right hand that can withstand 4,200 psi.

    January 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. jim mosier

    Please remind me which sorority they each were in?

    January 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. Madeline Rodriguez

    I am sorry, but this report reminds me of a discussion I had with my 4 YEAR OLD about making a mountain out of a mole hill and leaving her complaints for bigger and MORE CONCERNING issues.

    At a time like this, really, let’s focus on the real ISSUES, not whether or not a candidate gave another their back!

    Does negativity have to be infused even on candidate public displays of courtesy?

    Let’s not act like my 4 year old Yajaira and stick to the issues or TIME OUT for you!

    January 29, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. stan pitts pa

    cnn thanks for trying to sully the right candidate for the people, yes we want experience, just not the kind HRC is offering, what she offers is a policy of PRETENDER-IN-CHIEF, lies, distortions and manipulation, we know an act when we see one and her false smile to ted kennedy, was very obvious, Americans are smart enough to tell an act from reality and after all the events that occured yesterday it was obvious her smile was a phony, same as her tears in newhampshire, i have greater respect for obama now, at least i know with him, what you see, is what you get,no more lies and no pretense!

    January 29, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. Sherry

    Say what you will. It doesn't matter how you slice it, she is the better person between the two of them. He continues to show very churlish behavior. I want this nonsense to stop. "He does not play well with others".

    January 29, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Jay

    Get a Life

    January 29, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Yolanda

    Guess Hillary is not likeable enough, after all. Obama, you are going to have to learn to keep your emotions in check. The last thing the US and the free wordl needs is a president with an ill temper.

    January 29, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. st_claret

    Yes, he snubbed her, and that was not a gentlemanly thing to do. I am sick and tired of the free media ride given to Obama. All the talk about hope and change without any meat? Please give me a break! If an employer will not hire you because of your ability to inspire, why then is it okay to hire a president for that reason. It was okay for Obama to accuse Clinton during their last debate for being a board member of Walmart while he was doing whatever. The last time I checked, that was not a crime. Somehow, it is not fair game when his past is discussed. His defense – I already published it in my book; therefore it is out of reach. Give me a BREAK! By the way, I am BLACK. He has not earned my vote.

    January 29, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Lady Bug

    This absolutely silly! Whether he snubbed her or not. America-let's at least display enough common sense to judge our candidates on the issues and not on the silly things the media reports when there is no news for the day. Epiphany= Common sense

    January 29, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Chris in FL

    Obama, you've been pulling this crap the entire campaign... someone calls you out on an issue, a faux pas, and you chalk it up to a misrepresentation, misinterpretation, or distortion of the truth. We're tired of your lies, man. Tired.

    January 29, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Charlie

    Unbelievable the rants on this blog about a non-story, non-snub. First of all, you have a still picture from another angle not showing Sen. McCaskill which shows Sen. Obama looking the other way. Sen. Clinton is shaking hands with Sen. Kennedy. If that is where it ended we would be left merely with the pure speculation of a snub which could just as easily be interpreted as Obama giving Kennedy and Clinton some space. But this new angle supports 100% Obama's interpretation that he was answering a question from McCaskill. This is a manufactured controversy straight out of junior high school (my apologies to any kids out there – I know I am giving junior high school social dynamics a bad name).

    January 29, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |

    hahaha pathetic clinton supporters! so sad.....awwwwwww maybe hillary will go cry now

    January 29, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Joe


    If this is how all those speeches about UNITING are turned to action then we can turn the page on OBAMA. It must be of great worry if they have to come out and take time to explain his actions. The AP reporter who took this photo already stated it was a clear snub. OBAMA is now twisting in the wind. We want a President and not a pastor who preaches one thing and does another. Uniter, indeed.

    January 29, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. john williams san diego, ca.

    I, myself, would snub pathological liars such as 'her royal highness'.

    January 29, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Ann

    Absolutely Obama snubbed Hillary. He is a uniter – NOT! He's really showing his true colors. All the Kennedy crap is going to his head.

    January 29, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. stan pitts pa

    HRC supporters are still sulking from ted kennedys endorsement of obama, thats why they are making this a bigger deal than what it is,sorry folks, the gravy train has left the hrc station!

    January 29, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Mati

    Yea Obama.. Hillary is not likable enough, you told us that. Why should you say Hi! Rude arrogant man.

    January 29, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. K.Lee

    To all the Obama Hater and Hillary supporters!!!
    QUIT MAKING A BIG DEAL OUT OF SOMETHING ThAT WAS NOTHING!!! HE DID NOT SNUB HER! Clinton even said so herself!! Seriously people, look before you step in a pile of BS!!

    January 29, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. C.Lo

    Thank AJ for IL


    Let me mention again what u said

    Obama says he didn't snub her and Hillary says she didn't feel snubbed. So what is the freakin' problem?! All of these Hillary-supporters are jumping on a media bandwagon with no brakes. These Obama-haters are the same ones who believe Obama doesn't pledge of allegiance to the flag or got sworn it on the Koran. Jessica Yellin's CNN Poltiical ticker garnered over 1500 responses when it was a social controversy with much to do about nothing. Let's move forward as a nation even though the media trys to stir up partisan bickering for ratings.

    Obama in '08!

    January 29, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Liam

    Looks like Hillary snubbed Senator Obama. She came over to where he was and went out of her way to shake hands with all the others, but did not even try to get his attention or say hello to him.

    January 29, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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