January 29th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: I didn't snub Clinton

ALT TEXT

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. Sharon

    I have to laugh at the "Intelligent Voter" who defends Obama but cannot spell Blame!! I want experience running my country and sorry sir are you not only rude, you do not have the experience to run this country. I will give you your due on giving great speeches though. You should go into a position of all talk and no substance.

    January 30, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  2. ryan

    Why are the Clintons and the Media making a big deal out of this. It has no relevance to the campaign. But if you need an explanation for what this awkard situation was like let me explain for the "educated" voters.
    It would be like me (Obama) standing there with my new girlfriend (Kennedy) and then Kennedy's ex who he just broke up with (Hillary) came up to say hello.

    January 30, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  3. Denise

    This is really ridiculous. Obviously, there are a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters on this blog. Please!!!! Why is this so important? It seems to me that people are just looking for something to complain about. Are you all adults or children? I feel like I am in third grade. Grow up. If this is what you are going to base your vote on, you are really immature and clueless. Do any of you have anything better to do than complain about this stupid story? Give me a break. I, for one, will rise above this pettiness and vote on the issues. I hope most of you will do the same.

    January 30, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  4. JD

    Why is this still the lead "news" item on the Ticker after two days? Didn't anything exciting happen yesterday? Perhaps in Florida? Nah...

    January 30, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  5. julPR

    So, that is the change Obama is saying he will bring to the White House? I don't believe in Obama. The least he can do is shake hands with Senator Clinton, as both are in the floor of the House. Obama is NO change.

    January 30, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  6. Troy

    WHO CARES. ALL POLITICIANS ARE LIARS...IT'S ALL ABOUT GAME, SAVING FACE AND THEN LYING SOME MORE. SO WHAT IF OBAMA DIDN'T SPEAK TO HILARY, WHO'S TO SAY HE DIDN'T SPEAK TO HER EARLIER ON BEFORE THE STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH. BASED ON THE COMMENTS ABOVE WE ARE ALL HUMAN AND IF OBAMA DIDN'T SPEAK TO HER, WELL HE'S HUMAN AND IF HE'S HOLDING A GRUDGE OR ACTUALLY DID TURN TO TALK TO CLAIRE. MAYBE AT THAT MOMENTS HILARY WAS SPEAKING TO SOMEONE ELSE AND/OR GAVE OBAMA A LOOK THAT SHE DIDN'T WANT TO SPEAK TO HIM. MAYBE HE DIDN'T WANT TO INTERUPT HER WELL-WISHERS, SINCE HE'S SEEN HER MORESO THAN OTHERS WHO HAVE NOT AND DIDN'T WANT TO INTERUPT.

    I MEAN WE CAN SIT AROUND ALL DAY LONG AND ANALYZE THE BEHAVIOR, THE ATTITUDES AND DRAW CONCLUSIONS, CHANGE OUR MINDS, DEBATE ABOUT OBAMA'S ATTITUDE OR HILARY AND BILLS ATTITUDE, BUT THE FACT STILL REMAINS AS AMERICAN VOTERS WE ARE SUBJECTED TO THE MEDIA'S SCRUTINY OF WHAT THEY PUT OUT ABOUT THE POLITICIANS, WHETHER IT BE TRUTH OR NOT, INSTEAD OF STANDING OUR GROUND ON THE ISSUES.

    OBAMA IS HUMAN, HILARY IS HUMAN, THEY ARE IN THE PUBLIC EYE, AND THEY ARE JUDGED BY WHAT THEY DO, BUT TO HOLD IN ACCOUNT THAT SOMEONE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE SNUBBED SOMEONE IS BEYOND ME. NOT THAT IT IS PRINTED UP IN THE PAPER, BUT BECAUSE PEOPLE OVERWHELMINGLY FALL FOR ANYTHING AND THE SMALLEST THINGS THAT THEY READ.

    SO BECAUSE OBAMA MAY HAVE SNUBBED HILARY DOES THAT MAKE HIM A BAD CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENCY – NO. IF WE LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS THAT GEORGE BUSH HAS DONE WRONG IN HIS BEFORE AND AFTER HIS PRESIDENCY, THE LIES, THE DECEIT, THE ARROGANCE, THE WAR, THOSE ARE THINGS THAT ARE UP FOR DEBATE. THOSE ARE THINGS WE NEED TO LOOK AT IN TERMS OF WHO IS GOOD FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE FOCUS MORE ON PETTY THINGS THAT ARE GOING ON IN THE WORLD MORESO THAT THE BIGGER ISSUES. AMERICANS KNOW AND FOCUS MORE ABOUT PARIS HILTON AND BRAD AND ANGELINA THAN THEY DO WHAT HILARY OR BARACK CAN DO AS PRESIDENT, UNLESS IT'S PETTINESS LIKE THIS. WAKE UP AMERICA, AND GET A LIFE!

    January 30, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  7. geethang

    I think Hillary is looking for a fight.....

    January 30, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  8. Alice

    Oh come on people. Let it go. As Vince so aptly put it, "This is not an issue". People are trying to make something of nothing in this media driven election. Keep your eye on the real issues and vote for who you feel is the best person to lead our nation out of the mess it's in.

    January 30, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  9. CA Dem

    I basically like Obama, and I think he is a great future prospect. But not yet. He's still a puppy "player" who needs to find out how the real world works. And that takes more than riding into the arena like a white knight out of nowhere, "talking" about change. He doesn't yet have "grace under fire," which Hillary Clinton has in abundance because of years of EXPERIENCE. And, yes, t's unfortunate, but one slip can tell a whole, big story. His just did. This time around, though, it's Hillary time, and I believe that when voters face that ballot on Super Tuesday all over the country, they'll realize that!

    January 30, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  10. Don Jackson

    My god, doesn't CNN have anything better to do?

    January 30, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  11. Making Something Out of Nothing

    Could it be that this was one of those moments we've all experienced at some point in our life...being accused of something you had no clue you did? The camera "just happened" to be on the two presidential hopefuls when Obama turned away. Furthermore, what would Obama gain from exerting such an act, especially following the State of the Union address (surrounded by thousands)? Absolutely nothing, except individuals making something out of nothing.

    It's scary reading some of the comments that have been posted. Please spend your time researching and supporting your candidate of choice, instead of "Making Something Out of Nothing."

    January 30, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  12. Betsy

    And so what if he did snub her? Her and her husband have tried (and have been failing I might add) to slam Obama and anyone who supports him. I as a private citizen would look the other way if Mrs. Clinton trying to shake my hand.

    She is a witch and Obama isn't going to play nice just to "look good".

    January 30, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  13. supertuesdayvoter

    with this, it is clear that Obama can't be President. If he needs to meet with other political leader in the world that he doesn't support, he will leave without shaking hands. what a shame. We need polite President with experience and intelligence. dont LIE obama, everyone saw you.... just go to youtube... this is not how Presidents acts.

    January 30, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  14. John, OH

    So much about Obama being nice person and bringing everybody together, when he can't even have gentle handshake with his fellow Democrats. This just prove that Obama is nothing but talker and like every time he has nice explanation about the situation with someone backing him. He can’t even take responsibility himself.

    January 30, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  15. BruBruDog

    People, don't we have something better to do than react to such situations. Are we all still in the 1st grade. How many of you have spoken to a co-worker earlier in the day and see them later on with someone whom you have not seen and only spoke to that person. If Obama had already acknowledge Hiliary, you don't need react every time you see her during the day. I forgot...all of you acknowledge the same person 100 times during the day. Get a life.

    January 30, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  16. John E Lexington KY

    Yes, Obama, who was between Hillary and Kennedy – Kennedy had to reach over and around him – just happened to turn his back on her for five minutes. As you see in the photo, he and Clair McCaskill are obviously deeply engaged in conversation (check the photo). McCaskill providing cover for him – she's on the very short list for veep, obviously. Obama should have apologized and said it was an awkward moment and he momentarily forgot his manners. His problem – and a problem if he's elected (and I certainly will vote for him should he be the nominee) – is he believes his own myth. This leads to arrogance. That will have to be rubbed off, and better in my opinion by losing the nomination and becoming a better president eight years from now than by some disaster in his first months in office. His resume is very scant and he should not have run now. More of this garbage and he'll damage himself in the future. By rushing it, he's already gone from inevitable president to creating problems by incidents like this.

    Not acknowledging Hillary's win in Florida – or his own voters there – was also a snub. The media has largely followed suit. Clinton got more votes – 140,000 more – than McCain but it's a non-event? MSNBC was particularly Orwellian on this. Those delegates will end up being seated – Michigan is more problematical. So last night there was a Florida primary and it will prove to be crucial. Snubs notwithstanding.

    January 30, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  17. Jae

    My goodness everybody who thinks this is an issue get a life!!!! There are more important issues going on.............like Bill and his temper for one, so to move the light away from that is what the Clinton's do best. They probably seen all the reports about how Bill and his anger were hurting Hilary and then when Senator Obama turns to shake somebody else's hand or speak with them the Clinton's probably jumped all over it..............oooohhhhh Barack snubbed Hillary.....SO WHAT!!!!! Her campaign is dirty and disgusting!!!!!!

    GOT HOPE!!!! OBAMA 08!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 30, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  18. Andrew

    THIS IS NOT A STORY!!

    Why is CNN promoting this non-issue?

    January 30, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  19. Rob

    He absolutely did snub Hillary Clinton. Although I have yet to make up my mind as to which candidate I will vote for, this chilish act certainly has some weight at the momenet.

    January 30, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  20. Matthew Cooper

    CNN? This is what you've become? Give me a break.

    January 30, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  21. Paul M

    Amazing! Is this something you guys should be wasting your time on? Why not discuss the real issues that will make your Country better. Why do you let the media do this to you? This is unbelievable.

    January 30, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  22. Michael

    I could care less if he would have flipped her off! Where does the man stand on the ISSUES?! I've heard more about their personal squabbles than I've heard about the differences in their ideologies.

    The US voting process is just comical... From the idiotic focus on Clinton shedding a tear to this primary process to the stupid use of state electoral votes (versus using the popular vote where EVERY vote would count) we've just lost all sensibility.

    What's really disheartening is that this insanity will continue until NOVEMBER!!! Let's just flip a coin to pick the next President and be done with it already! (By the way, for some of you folks I probably need to point out that that last comment was meant as a joke).

    January 30, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  23. Craig

    Yes, he snubbed her – because she is not likable!

    January 30, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  24. Sam,South Carolina

    I couldn't agree with you more (LL). Let's focus on the more important things here!! We all are human and I don't believe that anyone can say that they never snub someone. We need to focus on someone who can clean up this big mess. Our enconomy is about to go into recession as we speak and all we can find to talk about is something so imature. This is High School Stuff. GET A GRIP!!!!!. MOVE ON!!!!!

    January 30, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  25. Dem 08

    Hey Dems:

    It seems that the republicans are succeeding at dividing you. I hope Obama and Clinton campaign advisors are realizing the damage. Divided you will never win. All dems, please stop this childish fight. Let's prepare to embrace whomever wins the dem bid and focus on issues to heal the country. I beg you all!

    January 30, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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