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. Brad in VA

    I've heard that Kennedy said that Clinton was too moderate....so what's the problem with being a moderate Democrat? That's who we need in The White House now.

    January 30, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  2. Sam, Dallas TX

    WHO CARES!!!!!!!! Since when is this news? Hillary didn't even bother to stick around to thank her supporters in SC. THATS A SNUB FOLKS!!!! No speculation is needed on that one. OBAMA 08!!!!!!

    January 30, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  3. Boring

    Who cares? A moutain out of a molehill. You want to talk about people ignoring people? How about Huckabee totally ignoring a question from a concerned student at a Q and A at Madrid High School in Madrid, Iowa and when she called him on it, he yells at her? No local news organizations even wanted to pick up this story a week before the Iowa caucuses. Much more telling than the lack of a handshake here, and yet this crud makes the news?? Sad...get over yourselves people. Intentional or not, who cares? Every single one of you who has been offended at this has probably done much worse, so get off the high horse...sheesh.

    January 30, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Casey

    People have too much time on their hands....

    January 30, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. Chris

    The press is always out to create a sensation in order to sell their newspaper or in this case to gain some sort of popularity in the media. Mature readers or viewers will always take what they see or hear with a pinch of salt. They will also know what to believe. Hence I consider the "snub" as a load of crab from the originator of this piece of reporting;

    January 30, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  6. John Smith

    I can't wait until they call Obama out on this at the debate tomorrow night.

    January 30, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  7. farid shakur

    i wrote a comment on this subject prior to this one where i said maybe Mr Obama may have been hurt from previous misinformation reported about his past, but i now hear what Mr Obama is saying about that incident and I am happy to know that it wasn't as it was reported to be. That's fine to know. They are just humans and we all are misrepresented alot of the times. The Republican Party is not misrepresented as being the party of racial divide and no affection for those other than old style in charge confederate caucasians. They are the saddest group i know and i do my part to incourage people to become either democratic or independent members because most people say Republicans are "REPULSIVE'

    January 30, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  8. kate

    Does this sound like someone that would intentionally snub someone?

    Richardson said he likes Obama, telling a story about how Obama saved him during one of last year's Democratic debates:

    "I had just been asked a question - I don't remember which one - and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn't going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, 'So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?' But I wasn't paying any attention! I was about to say, 'Could you repeat the question? I wasn't listening.' But I wasn't about to say I wasn't listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, 'Katrina. Katrina.' The question was on Katrina! So I said, 'On Katrina, my policy . . .' Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, 'Obama, that was good of you to do that.'"

    January 30, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  9. socrates

    DRAGON LADY finally reaps what she has sown!!

    January 30, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  10. Jared

    Last time I checked HE WON! SHE SHOULD HAVE WAITED TO CONGRATULATE HIM!!!! If of course she is that kind of person.

    January 30, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  11. rabblerouser

    Obama hates Hillary – that was clear in the NH debates when he had his body turned away from her and snidely said she was "likeable enough." He's proven himself to be a sore loser, then tries to tell everyone that what he says or does isn't what he said or did. And he accuses the Clintons of this? Obama, grow up...

    January 30, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  12. S.M

    Here is another one of Hilary Clinton's crying games. Has she ever considered what she and her husband have done to Obama? People don't often think about how they've treat others until the table is turned on them. She can only blame herself and her husband.

    January 30, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  13. yolanda alvarez

    It doesn't matter one bit that Ted Kennedy has endorsed Obamba. The winds of change are about action, not just words. Hillary has my vote. yalvarez

    January 30, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  14. Elaine

    Obama is very much rude. I can not believe the media never picked up on this. At the IOWA debate the first Edwards was announced, then Todd. Both guys shook hands, patted back. Next Obama comes in, same here. It was like a welcome wagon.

    Then Hillary gets announced. Obama did not extend his hand that time either. The welcome party ended.

    It was so blatent he does not like her and that was way before this new battle of the sex/race started.

    He is rude and can not control his emotions. I am sure Ted will show him how to spit in your eye and tell you it raining, as he does in the picture above.

    What a pair!!

    January 30, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  15. Ozzy

    What a pathetic state of affairs that we are reporting this...

    January 30, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. matt

    my only problem is that they never show the candidates going to the bathroom. i mean come on! they dont show when sit com actors go to the bathroom, but they aren't real, so i can excuse that. BUT SERIOUSLY PEOPLE! if we are supposed to be looking at the issues, then we need to see that these people are REAL PEOPLE who use the REAL BATHROOOM!
    when are we going to see them excuse themselves to relieve themselves?
    when are we going to see an uncomfortable president?
    when are we going to hear one....small...toot?

    January 30, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. TPF

    For all of you who think Mc Cain is the right choice, might as well give Bush 4 more years. There will be no difference. More power to giant corporations who currently control our government. It's no longer government for the people. We need any kind of change to hopefully bring back jobs to this country and make us the country to look up to. We are the country every other country hates. We outsource everything and import because Bush says American’s want cheap products. BS! We want a strong producing America. Look at the mess this country is in and it's only getting worse. Soon you will hear the government is going to bail out the banks. And who is going to flip that bill? Do you think Mc Cain is going to change things? Ha! I doubt it.

    Stop arguing over a stupid photo with no verbal facts. Either canidate or even Edwards is a chance for change.

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

    This is such a non-issue. This is the worst kind of celebrity gossip, and the fact that it's even being so widely reported is disgraceful.

    I bet there's a lot of journalists right now who need a nice long shower after writing/reporting this dirty, stupid muck.

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

    This IS an issue – can the US afford to have someone who pouts and takes things personally clean up our foreign relations around the world? What's Obama going to do if the president of France makes a comment about him – turn his back to him and stamp his foot? It boils down to etiquette, professionalism, and polish. Obama clearly isn't polished enough to keep his personal bias from interfering with his work.

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

    If I were in his place and I saw Mrs. C approaching and holding out her hand to Mr. Kennedy, it woul be fairly obvious to me that they wre going to greet each other and talk. What am I supposed to do then? Stand there and stare while they talked?!!! And the possibility of them ignoring me is real considering that they are two old timers who have a lot in common historically and socially, even though he endorsed him (Obama). Human nature at work, so, involuntarily, (human nature again working)his body turns away to talk to someone else to engage his time and to leave them to it. SO HUMAN NATURE AT WORK AGAIN, the media jumps on it to make the headlines. Thinking the worse. But you know it is not important really.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I t's only contributing to more divisiveness in America.

    January 30, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  21. ole man

    Just another media attempt to "create" controversy.

    January 30, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  22. dave

    The reason this is news is because we don't know much about BO except for the speeches he reads. The NYT called him "undefined" . Others have called his candidacy "vague." These behaviors speak volumes about what type of person he is. BO is preaching (and I do mean preaching) that he can "reach across the aisles and get things done to CHANGE Washington." But he can't even reach to extend his hand to someone standing right next to him. Those of us who saw it saw that Kennedy had to reach over BO to shake HC's hand while BO turned away. This along with other remarks like "you're likable enough" show this person's arrogance. If HC had done the same to BO, he would be calling them racist yet again. I see a double standard here.

    For a while I was on the fence between BO and HC but several things have made me realize why HC is the best person for the job. I for one wanted to know more about BO and what he has done. Unfortunately, every time BO is challenged or asked about his lack of accomplishment and experience, or to explain how he is going to accomplish something, somehow his camp convinces the media that the Clinton's are being racist. Anyone who has been awake in the last 20 years simply knows that that is complete fiction. And why is it that when McCain and Romney debate and challenge each other it's called "politics", but when HC does the same, it is called "racist".

    There was another candidate who ran on a slogan to change Washington...GWB. Remember when he promised to be a "uniter" not a "divider". Did he say how he was going to do that? Did he deliver on that slogan? The answer to both is no. We can't rely on slogans this time around. We need a leader who will deliver solutions to the huge mess that awaits when the current administration leaves. HC is the one most prepared to do it. We can't afford to have someone in there again who will be in training for 4 years.

    January 30, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  23. Mike

    This is crazy, the media( with a little help from the candidates) are turning this into an episode of saved by the bell. Are we in High School or what?

    January 30, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  24. BJ

    How come Obama showed up for this fiasco but does not have the time to show up for voting in the Senate ae part of his job. The same as he did when he was senator in Illinois. I think that is more important then is snub of Clinton if that what is was.

    January 30, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  25. Argie

    With all of the serious issues facing U.S. and the world, the news media continues to report items that are meaningless.

    January 30, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
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