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. Eric M

    I really can't believe that this is being talked about. Where is the real news?

    January 30, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  2. Rick

    From the back view of Hillary how do we know she isn't flipping Obama off? That is as lame of a statement as someone thinking Obama snubbed her.

    January 30, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  3. Kay

    SO WHAT IF HE SNUBBED HER! It doesn't change my opinion of him one bit !
    ~GO OBAMA '08!~

    January 30, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  4. mark

    why not take the guy at his word? as usual, the media is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    January 30, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  5. Kjetil

    I trust him. But if he is tierd of her and her husbands lies i understand it. You dont have to shake hands too everyone and hug everyone all the time just too show that personal false attacks dosent hurt.

    January 30, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  6. Dan R

    Statesmanship Statesmanship Statesmanship !!
    As potential leader of the free world, Obama has shown none of it.
    While people may dislike/disagree with the President, they'd still stand for the national anthem.
    But Obama, as you know so well, it is always easier to kick, scream and act up when facing your adversaries and when things don't go your way because Mama Oprah has your back. Oh wait... and the Kennedy's support.. now I am impressed but only if it is truly relevant.

    January 30, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  7. Jason

    Seriously, who cares. Does this change either of their political positions? NO. Will it sway the mind of voters looking to vote for Obama? NO. If you are going criticize a canidate, on either side, for this or any other SMALL incidents, you shouldn't be ready to vote anyway! Vote on the politics, not whether somebody may or may not have shook somebody elses hand...get over it.

    January 30, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. s hayes

    Obama is flat out lying. Pictures don't lie. His true colors are coming out. Barack
    is not capable of leading this great nation. VOTE HILLLARY!!!

    January 30, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  9. BM

    Admist all of the issues the Democratic Party needs to confront, we have to have our (the people) time wasted on media coverage of "Who snubbed whom?" and "He said, she said?" - STOP! We can all agree that how we view an event depends on our position with a particular candidate. Enough said.

    Here is an idea Hillary and Barack - Explain to me how you plan on stabalizing the economy, our healthcare system, education, and our protection as a country (internal and foreign). If you cannot provide real answers to HOW?, WHEN?, WHERE?, and to WHAT EXTENT? (no blanket gross generalizations required either) Maybe you should not be running for president. Whether it is a good or bad idea at least it is a formal thought on fixing our country's issues that are affecting us right now.

    So, whether you have 35 yrs of political-based experience or you were the unsung hero for the lower economic status level (which I probably belong to and don't realize it) – Please let's FOCUS. Stop acting like 3rd graders at recess.

    January 30, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  10. Henriette

    Can you imagine Edwards, or any other Presidential contender, complaining the other "contender" didn't shake his hand.......leave it to Hil to talk to the press about being bothered by the so-called " snub", making something out of nothing....After South Carolina, I thought you might have gotten a clue how Hil and Bill will use ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING, to further their snarly, angry way to the White House.....Wake up, Obama.....this is is how Bill and Hill play the game.......
    And do stop responding to what they say....South Carolina proved that most Americans have an innate sense of decency.....and drew the line in the southern sand of that beautiful state..

    January 30, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  11. JT

    You can tell by the look on Obama's face that he does not like Clinton. It is extremely unprofessional Clinton was not hapy with Ted Kennedy's endoresement of Obama but she still remains cordial. Obama has no real experience and will only be a puppet in the White House just like George W. Bush was.

    January 30, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  12. Tekoa

    Gonna cry again Hillary???

    January 30, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  13. Jani K.

    The Dems need to be careful about obama... He is not the best choice for the democratic nomination... The media is setting him up as the frontrunner and when the rhetoric changes from change to experience obama will loose against John MCcain..... Edwards wants to pick the presidential nominee for us by collecting delegates... (that is not democratic) We need to vote for hillary even if we don't really care for her.. I am changing my vote from edward to hillary!

    January 30, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  14. Mike, Waterbury, CT

    Just another case of Obama being contradictory – I hope you supporters realize that he is just like any other politician. He will say and do anything to get elected. The man just ridiculed Clinton for winning Florida saying it didn't mean anything. Why would we want a president that would say that people's votes don't mean anything, just because a power happy democratic national committee decided that they couldn't decide how to select their nominee?

    People need to wake up and realize that this man is all air. The republicans will tear him apart come November, and all he will do is cry that he has been misunderstood. We need a real man or woman in the white house – not a cry baby who refuses to take personal responsibility for things. Hillary hs been woman enough to say that she is responsible for her campaign, that if things were said and people were offended, she's sorry – why can't Obama ever say something similar?

    He reminds me a lot of Bush – unable to admit a mistake and take it like a man.....

    January 30, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. Barb Reynolds, US Citizen - Ontario Canada

    I'm wondering how many of these postings are from people of the Clinton campaign. After all they've been push calling voters and sending e-mails out saying that Obama is Muslim when he is not. It would be all that surprising that campaign volunteers would pose negative comments on a story that would support Clinton. Remember, this is the "anonymous" internet with no way to evaluate the motivations of each respondent . . . including my own.

    January 30, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. Susan Gordon

    He certainly knew she was there. Why didn't he seek her out?

    January 30, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  17. Jacque Bauer

    Oh, BOO HOO, Obama won't shake my hand...I'm such a victim!

    Of course, Hillary is actually approaching Teddy and NOT Barack!

    Billary is so SHAMELESS as to try and spin any whisp of a straw to her advantage. Why not, SHE'S TOAST anyway!

    January 30, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  18. Allison, NH

    Its amazing to me how prejudgemental people are on this thread. An instant of one's life is captured, and we decide the fate of this person on this one moment?

    People (including Obama) have been so gracious to look beyond Clinton's crying spell here in NH, and yet you people jump all over Obama for possibly "snubbing" Hillary? These people see eachother every other day – and believe you me...in the end one of them could end up being the other's running mate! Are you democrats just going to forget about these little petty issues when Obama becomes the nominee, or if he becomes the vice presidential nominee? Are you going to run to the Republican party because Obama didn't shake Clinton's hand? If so, than it is a truly sad testiment to the people who are voting for those running for presidency.

    Many of you have criticized Obama for what he did or did not do in a brief moment of time. I could come up with a running list of all the antics Hillary has done besides her crying fit (which we could all spin as a sign of weakness). But, I'm trying to keep an open mind about one of these two people, because in the end...as a true Democrat, I will need to wrap my mind and heart around one of these people and vote for them in the next election.

    January 30, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  19. Alvin

    The way these two candidates are going at each other only makes it a certainty that we will have at least four more dreadful years of Bush's policies. What a shame! I also think the media is fanning the flames to make sure the Republicans stay in power.

    Wake up Democrats, the real targets of criticism should be the GOP's candidates. Just look at what this country has become in the past seven years.

    Al as in Alabama

    January 30, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. LEO

    This is not an issue haters. Everyone has to remember that it is politics. What that will cost Hillary Clinton if she reach Obama when he has turned the back to her?

    January 30, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  21. yemiray

    I guess if this happened between MCAIN & ROMNEY it wont make any news..This again show how weak & nice Democrat candidates always have to be projected..
    This is no issue for opponents in the republicans. being tough and at times slightly snubbing is permitted over there..

    January 30, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. John

    Is this for real? Others have put this nicely with the comments before me, but let's pay attention to something important. This would include Brittany's custody battle with K-Fed or Lisa Lohan's battle with substances. Oh wait, that's what the media thinks is important. How about we focus on immigration, social security, education, presidential campaign reform, healthcare, our ECONOMY, the international community, and many more issues relevant to state and local politics. The news media in this country is a spit in the face to American viewers. Write a story about something that matters.

    January 30, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. ConcernedDem

    Obama's conduct is mean and disgraceful.Hillary has shown grace and strength on every occasion.I agree the hopelessly biased media would have it posted all over and somehow continuously with a delirious happiness maligned Hillary if she had done this.The commentators on CNN need to get their act together and be more balanced if they do not wish to loose viewers.Hillary had a convincing nearly 20 point win in Florida and it was labeled a beauty contest and we were reminded a trillion times there were no delegates.You cannot ignore 1.3 million votes! Stick to reporting and not inject your biased opinions.

    January 30, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  24. Matt - Florida

    Has anyone considered that perhaps he was, in fact, being polite? By turning away, he let Ted and Hillary have an exchange (after Ted's endorsement of Obama) without him staring at them – something bound to make everyone uncomfortable.

    A snub is when someone tries to initiate contact and you retreat. Hillary did not try to initiate contact.

    Use your head first, your hatred second.

    January 30, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. Enrique Ospina

    If the report turns out to be true the incident shows Senator Obama is far from being ready to be our next President, he does need to grow up!

    January 30, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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