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. Annie Midwest

    I watched the State of the Union Address AND the media are the ones who actually gave pause and pointed out the SNUB in a series of still photos and commentary. Hillary went over to speak with another Senator who was sitting near Ted Kennedy and Obama. Kennedy made a point of reaching ACROSS Obama to shake hands with Hillary – which at that point Obama turned away and stared at the back wall!! Two Senators on his OTHER side also shook hands and chatted.

    AND those who don't get it are the ones who were never taught any manners to begin with.

    THE BIGGER PICTURE IS THAT BARACK HOLDS PERSONAL GRUDGES JUST LIKE BUSH!! 🙁 This is exactly the kind of behavior which Dubya displays and results in having to have everything his way AND BEING STUBBORN!!

    The snub was not merely a display of rudeness, it was far more indicitive of the kind of self-centered person he TRULY is. Would he treat world leaders the same way, if he didn't like them? Is this how he would sit down and discuss problems with them, if he doesn't even have the common courtesy to rise above his own personal issues?! He acts like a petulant bully, who can't even look his rival in the eye, and be polite. Is this he idea of UNITY? Obviously he doesn't practice what he preaches.

    To those who comment, why shouldn't Obama be rude to Hillary? – BECAUSE HE SUPPOSEDLY HOLDS HIMSELF UP AS BEING THE MOST CIVIL AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS CANDIDATE (kind of like the GOPs who claim to be the party of strong moral and family values NO) He professes to cussing when he gets mad and now everyone has seen him for the mean-spirited bully and boorish person he really is. HE IS WORSE THAN A CLOD. HE IS A GEORGE BUSH WAITING TO HAPPEN.....

    He needs to leave the Democratic party and take his clueless followers with him.

    January 30, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Mary, Ames, IA

    From the Washington Post's political discussion:

    Shailagh Murray: Actually, I watched Sen. Clinton with my own eyes turn her back on Sen. Obama in the Senate chamber. It happened at least twice over the past year - he turned to greet her and she seemed to very deliberately turn away. We reported at least one of these episodes on the front page of our newspaper.

    January 30, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  3. kb

    I just think this is such a non-issue. Find some real news. OMG.

    January 30, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  4. Nosakhere Walcott

    I really don't think this is an issue either. Let's see here... does snubbing a person (or not) mean that would make you any less of a leader? This article is rediculous, and I am upset at myself that I am even waisting time posting this message for CNN to approve.

    January 30, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  5. Sammy

    People get a life – we have more important issues here affecting our lives than the crap about Obama turning away from Clinton, so what if he did? Have you ever not avoided anyone before that you did not want or feel like talking to?

    January 30, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. Akebaje

    Who cares?!!! They're rivals for goodness sakes! :rolleyes:
    The media needs to stop bringing up unecessary nonsense!

    January 30, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  7. FredNJ

    Let's forget the Presidential race for a second. What would you think of a person that did something this immature and then lied about it? Maybe someone in your office, the PTA, or in your study group? I don't think that person would be called upon to take any position of importance in any of those groups and could very well end up as an outcast.
    Now, can an adult that is worried about their kid's college tuition, their mortgage, their job and all of the other things on their mind really depend on a person like this. Someone who takes something this small and covers it up. I would much rather have heard something honest come out of his mouth. Even if it was, "I don't respect the way her campaign is being run and I don't believe in being a hypocrite." All this talk about change and yet here's a perfect example of the hypocrisy that has run rampant in our nation's capitol for a very long time. It is a shame.

    January 30, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  8. Nattie

    Who cares?

    January 30, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  9. VR

    Mr. 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 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  10. notwatching

    who gives a rats.... How stupid ! Hillarysa fruad and a race hate card playing clown who should be making cokies where Mather Stwert was !

    January 30, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  11. Josh

    Who cares!!!!!! This is a political competition. It is dirty and mean. The campaign ads are dirty and mean. It's not a pretty competition. Things happen. Get over it. I bet if you look at every single video of Clinton she does the same thing to Edwards or to Obama. This is just propaganda used to try to bring the front runner down a notch.

    January 30, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  12. JJ

    BOOOOO HOOOOO!! Is Clinton going to cry now? I could care less if he did snub her. I dont believe he did but I also dont beleive that he was rushing to get a handshake from her either. We are all human beings in the end and honestly it would show me that he was a fake person if he was rushing to shake her hand. After all the lies, distortions, and misrepresentations this women has pulled of on Obama!!?? Would you want to shake her hand?? I mean really??

    January 30, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  13. R.A.

    Clearly we are in trouble when people focus to this extent on trivial interpretations, of a micro-moment, expressed by people who completely ignore the real issues facing this country. It is a painful realization that the elections are in the hands of narrow minded people who would rather gossip about non issues.
    Shame on you.

    January 30, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. Tired Hillary and the Clintons

    You want to shake hands with someone that has been talking about you for the past month and a half.

    If he did not shake her hand WHO CARES!!! Issues people..Issues!!

    I'm tired of the Clinton CRAP!!! Experience, the only experience she has is being a first lady.. NOT PRESIDENT!!! And her dang husband didnt have experience when he ran, and people seem to think he is god.. SO PLEASE!!!

    "Time for Change"
    Obama in 08

    January 30, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  15. Matt

    good for him if he did...she deserves it....Go Obama...

    January 30, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  16. Rick

    Who cares? Seriously, is this high school?

    January 30, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  17. Nita

    In prior ages, it would have been called the "cut direct" but there is no question it was an intentional snub. Frankly, I don't care about that so much as the fact that this man who wants to lead our country is so sleezy that he would try to invent a cover story instead of owning up to his behavior like any honest person. He could simply say he felt uncomfortable exchanging pleasantries after all she and her husband had been trashing him publicly and it would have covered the situation honestly and understandably. Shame on you for bad behavior all around Mr. Obama.

    January 30, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  18. Josh

    here's what should be news:

    New hampshire recount shows diebold electronic voting machines counted the exact opposite of pre-polls and exit polls, AND hand counted ballots, flip flopping the results in clintons favor rather than obama.

    Also, why is nobody calling Hillary out on her 'get the florida delegates seated' bull. They all knew going in to this that MI and FL were not going to seat delegates at the DNC this summer, so why now? when she (slimly) 'won' unopposed in MI to 'anyone but hillary' and now has 'won' another state where nobody was supposed to campaign, if Obama, or Edwards had won Florida would she be making that case? that those voters voices need to be heard? hell no.

    She's no better than George Bush trying to steal herself an election.

    January 30, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  19. Fastpitch1920

    I believe you Obama.....but really, why is this such a big deal??

    January 30, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  20. Tim

    Please CNN...will you stop offering stories like this? It's one thing to casually report on the speculation of some, but to have it as a headline story on your web page for more than 24 hours is a waste of headline space. Isn't CNN supposed to be the leader in "breaking news"?

    January 30, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  21. Sam

    Who cares?

    January 30, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  22. John

    No one knows if it was a snub or not, but I personally would not hesitate to snub someone who, combined with her husband, had lied about me, and had done thier best to turn this into a race race. Shame on the Clintons.

    January 30, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  23. ak

    It is now clear to me why our government is so broken. If a fake tear or an alleged snub can get people to vote for team Billary, well then I think we desire what we get. Lets face it, Hillary is part of the problem.

    January 30, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  24. Ann

    It seems Obama can do no wrong even when it's caught on tape. Heaven help us.

    January 30, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  25. BH

    Why would Obama owe Hillary a handshake, or even the time of day? After the lies and distortions the Clintons have been spreading about him, I'm surprised he is willing to be seen in the same room with her.

    January 30, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
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