January 29th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 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. jamal scott

    This is not an issue. For the first time in politic, we have a guy who is honest and whom we can at least trust. Let just stay positive about this and embrace the man who brings about change because moment like this comes around once in a life time. I support Obama and his Hillary, but I think Obama will be honest to the american people and tell us what we want to hear.

    January 30, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  2. Joe

    What's disrespect ? Not shaking someone's hand, or constant mudslinging? We've all seen Hillary and her camp constantly bash Obama. No telling what's going on behind the scenes. I'm sure it's much worse.

    For the record, I don't see a decent Dem or Rep candidate. I don't even see a decent third party candidate either.

    January 30, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  3. Moon

    Personally I think this story and all of you who to choose to analyze this story one way or another need to get a life. WHO CARES!?

    January 30, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  4. Doug, DC

    I can't believe that this post has so many entries. This is ridiculous. I guess we're supposed to base our votes on whether or not Obama snubbed Clinton. What a joke!! Hopefully, Obama's movement can change the focus on the media as well because they know how to influence the discussion in America. Now they have democrats discussing whether or not Obama snubbed Clinton when we have far more serious issues to consider. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!!!!! The more I hear Clinton/Obama supporters go at it over petty issues, the more I'm leaning towards EDWARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 30, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  5. Gerard-Tampa

    Everyone needs to grow up, you cannot tell from the video what happened, I have it taped and have reviewed it several times. Is it to much of a stretch that this reporter that claims she saw it that way is trying to get her name in print? And guess what, it worked!!

    January 30, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  6. H

    I believe that was probably an awkward moment for both candidates. I think it was good of Obama to back away and give senators Kennedy and Clinton a chance to speak to each other. I would have turned away if I was in the same situation. He was being respectful of their relationship.

    January 30, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  7. Alice

    The Kennedy’s endorsed Obama because the Kennedy’s are rich, have no problem to pay mortgage and gas bills. They need someone who is of different ethnicity to decorate their own political career, “Hi, look, how open my mind is, and how new my thoughts are. I endorsed a Black.” If they were ordinary people like us who need to pay bills and fulfill our gas tanks everyday they would have endorsed the one who has more experience to lead the country back in track and to recover the worst damage that Bush made to our nation. Please remember, the nation’s deficit is records high and way beyond the limit line. Can someone who lacks experience like Obama overturn the country’s direction and pay such a huge deficit? The answer is obviously not Obama, but Hillary is the one can.

    January 30, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. jamal scott

    This is not an issue. For the first time in politic, we have a guy who is honest and whom we can at least trust. Let just stay positive about this and embrace the man who brings about change because moment like this comes around once in a life time. I support Obama and his Hillary, but I think Obama will be honest to the american people. He is a strong candidate that I think if he gets elected he will do a lot for this country.

    January 30, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  9. 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! SO WHAT! Americans need to be true to yourself and stop acting as if you have never SNUBBED anyone! People are People and things happen get over it. Hillary is NICE NASTY before this political process is over I'm sure she'll have the opportunity to snub him as well, and she's going to do it. She's a control freak and wants what she wants when she wants it! Who knows she probably has already snubbed him before and the media missed it! African Americans are always watched with Hawk eyes in everything they do! Don't portray her as the victim she's vindictive!

    January 30, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  10. Bette Raymond

    Of course Obama was snubbing Hillary. He gets away with so much. The media is all over Obama. If Hillary or Bill question anything about Obama, they are demonized. I am so sick of hearing about how inspiring and JFK like Obama is. He may well be a very nice and intelligent man, but he lacks experience. Does this snub show what a " uniter" he is suppose to be?

    January 30, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. some1

    Why is it so important if the presidential candidate is polite or not? isn't the content of his policies more important, or that he's a candid person who perhaps has trouble repressing his true emotions (say, if he despises her) and presenting a fake smiley mask as American politics and culture demand? don't whine if you get lying politicians if you expect them to fake their way to the top with 'common manners'. Once a culture endorses falseness to some level, its difficult to know when to stop.

    January 30, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  12. Laura Herold

    Wow We have to make an issue of THIS now??? It only shows that he is not a hypocrite! It was an awkward moment and really what do you do? I've been in those situations...haven't you all?

    January 30, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  13. Manny

    You Hilliary supports are being absolutely ridiculous; making all these dumb comments. This article is a waste of space on CNN.com and is not important at all. He said he didnt snub her and so did the Senator he was talking to even if he did so the heck what? Does it really warrant all these stupid pointless comments. Side not............Hilliary is a lying con artist and so is her no good husband!

    January 30, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. Dave, in Ohio

    Wow can't believe all the comment. personally, i can't see myself voting for either one. Dem's don't have a canidate in my observation. all of Europe are fasinated with Huessin. I can't imagine this immature, inexperienced bringing anyone to the table, except those with a extreme liberal view of this country. I have had enough already of the clinton's and bush's. I don't if i'll find a canidate in this election.

    January 30, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. andrew ogilvie

    I am sorry people...I am not American I am Canadian, and when I watch CNN and the issues that make the headlines. Its frightening. Who cares if he snubbed her or she snubbed him. The issue at hand is what is best for the nation and what is best for the world.

    Here in Canada, our politicians make several personal and political criticisms. But at issue is the policy and the future of our Country.

    I love America. Eventhough I am Canadian, I have a deep affection for America. And I want the best for your country.

    Between the two candidates. Clinton has the experience and the dedication to keep America a float. But just imagine for an instance that you can have more.

    Obama has the ability to bring America to another level on the international scale and the domestic scale. He has the potential to bring America back to a place where everyone wants to go.

    I beg Americans to think about the consequence of their choice and focus on the future of your country.

    January 30, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  16. Rick, Maryland

    The media need's to cool it.
    I'm a Clinton supporter and don't believe Obama snubbed her at all.
    It's just one of those picture's that doesn't show what really happened.

    January 30, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  17. sr

    Who cares?

    January 30, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  18. Steve

    Great, this guy could be our president? Immature.

    January 30, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  19. Aida

    How can it be? Mr. perfect? No, he is never wrong. Florida is only one example of what is coming.

    January 30, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  20. Ollie in Augusta

    GET REAL PEOPLE! This article sounds like the kid on the school yard trying to pit two rivals to fight. There are no hidden agendas in everything that happens. Let's stick to the issues, PLEASE.

    January 30, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. Steve (VA)

    Interesting comments here. Cannot everyone see that ALL of the candidates are filling their campaign speeches with "change, hope and glory for all"? What a bunch of hooey. It doesn't matter who the President is, it is all the elected body that resides on Capitol Hill that are the problem. Our reps and senators today spend more time working to insure their return to the hill than doing an honest day's work. Real change comes when we elect reps. and senators that WILL make decisions based on the constituents' wants and needs. Sure, the President will have some influence BUT the decisions are made in Congress, right? Isn't that how our system is designed? Personally, I don't care who the President is....I want a Congress that earns their money, shows up for session and voting and is truly concerned about all of us, rather than themselves sitting on the hill.

    January 30, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. James

    "Stories" like this are frankly a waste of our time...

    January 30, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  23. KZ_Guy

    The real issue is the fact Obama would not admit he turned his back on Hillary so he would not have to shake her hand. LIAR.
    Its sort of like voting 'present' on tough issues. Something he has often done in the past. Come on Obama take some personal responsibility once in awhile.

    January 30, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  24. VR

    Obama,

    Come-on dude, If you are lying for such a small incident as this one, how can we trust you to put our country in your hands? We already have a pathological liar in the white house and we can’t afford another one again.

    January 30, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  25. Kate

    Come ON, Guys!! Much ado about NOTHING!!!

    January 30, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
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