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. 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 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Anna Gonzalez

    All of this "stuff" is out of control. Honestly, who cares?! All of these candidates should take advice from my 3 year old grandson. He at least tells the truth and smiles at everyone.

    January 30, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  3. Josh

    Obama tells us he can reach across the isle and talk to our enemies abroad, but he cant be cordial with someone in his same party he is running against??

    if the election were a month ago he would have gotten my vote, but im glad i have this extra week to decide

    Hillary 08 i guess

    January 30, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  4. Mike D

    This is funny how it's being spun as Obama's critical flaw, this is laughable and all these cackling hens are screaming like they've finally got Obama now. This is such a non-issue its ridiculous. Grow up, and if you want to see some weird photos of hillary just google her and tell me the first 10 you see. LOL

    January 30, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  5. Marcia, NY

    I agree that there are more important things to talk about, viz. the state of the country, healthcare, etc. The fact of the matter, however, is that Obama exhibited very poor manners. Common courtesy dictated that he should have extended his hand to Senator Clinton. Far from that, he turned his back, and for McCaskill and the like to defend him! Anyway you look at it, it was downright uncouth!

    January 30, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  6. Mr. Moth

    Dear CNN,

    Please stop covering political stories like its pro wrestling. No one's falling for it anymore. This election is dramatic enough without you adding your own adolescent storyline over the top of it.

    Thanks in advance,

    The American Public

    January 30, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  7. Vet

    Snub? Sounds like politics as usual to me~

    One thing though: Do note that it was Mrs. Clinton that reached out, that approached the other – whether anyone was willing to receive it seemed apparent. To not even recognize the other on the floor with all the press coverage there, makes me a bit uneasy.

    We "so" need genuine leadership, and so far, I'm still looking for it.

    January 30, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  8. Brian

    I thought this was a competition......be cordial and polite after the game, like all other competitions

    January 30, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  9. Dionne

    Okay, and the problem is? He's human. Give the man a break. Is this really newsworthy? I mean look at President Bush. He's done ALOT worse than a measly snub don't you think? Please people, put things in perspective.

    January 30, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. jiji

    Go Hill ... Go Clintons ...

    January 30, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  11. Bart

    I agree with BM. A president should never shake hands or be courteous with his political adversaries. Obama showed strength and leadership by snubbing Hillary. He's too important to shake hands with her.

    January 30, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  12. Ian, Somerville, MA

    This is ridiculous. This "story" isnt' news in the slightest. Even if Obama really did intentionally and rudely turn away from Clinton, it doesn't matter. Given that his motivations are pure speculation, and there's no agreement even on exactly what happened, reporting this is suspect– and getting excited about it is downright laughable.

    January 30, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  13. BOB

    Obama ,you are not smarter than a fifth grader.We dare you to try out.



    January 30, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  14. Bahamamama

    Hiliary did not rush to shake Obama hand either!! Hiliary have a mouth just like Obama and she did not open her mouth either!! People get a life because more issues like the economy for one is way more important then this!!

    January 30, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. Marvin

    He'll NEVER survive a race against the Republicans if he can't handle the pressure of a race with fellow Democrats. He acts like a spoiled child because he can't get things his way.

    January 30, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. Knowledge

    I'm not going to go into details about why this mess is even being reported, but i repeat what someone else so eloquently stated...something that is very true:


    January 30, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  17. Bahamamama

    Hiliary did not rush to shake Obama hand either!! Hiliary have a mouth just like Obama and she did not open her mouth either!! People get a life because more issues like the economy for one is way more important then this!!

    I made a posting but I did not already say this!!

    January 30, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  18. Kelley

    This has no relevance whatsoever.

    January 30, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  19. Tom, Cville, VA

    This is your news?! How about something regarding an issue? Yeesh!

    January 30, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  20. Don't erase my sh@#%*

    Wolf Blitzer and it CNN are biased…don’t you see??? Just look the BIG hilarious comedy organized by this guy and it channel yesterday about a supposedly Clinton win in Florida…it’s very disgusting!!!!

    Democratic candidates had agreed months ago to boycott the contest after the Democratic National Committee stripped Florida of its delegates to punish the state for moving up its primary date!!!

    Patti Solis Doyle, campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, committed Clinton to signing the Florida boycott pledge, saying, "We believe Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina play a unique and special role in the nominating process, and we believe the DNC's rules and its calendar provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role."

    Listen to what Patti Solis Doyle is saying today….."There are more voters in Florida alone than there are in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina combined,"…..disgusting!!!!

    Hillary Clinton will do ANYTHING to be the democratic nominee….but can she deliver on November??? Absolutely NOT!!!!

    Another 4more year for the Republican!!!

    January 30, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  21. Imelda

    If Obama is turning his..........BACK............on Women before he gets to the White House...........What's going to happen when ...IF.. he gets in??????????

    January 30, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  22. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    All these two are doing is providing fodder for the GOP smear machine come general election time.

    Think Rove is out of it? Think again; he'll come back in, at a price, but he'll be back in, because the only chance the GOP have is to thoroughly smear a Democrat and take the attention off 8 years of abject failure by Bush! And Rove is a proven master of the misdirection while doing dissection.

    And the Democrats are doing the leggwork for the GOP – right now!!!

    Hillary is going to get the nomination, Super Tuesday will bear that out, but at what price?!

    And...... Obama may be kissing off the VP position in the process!!!

    January 30, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  23. Sean

    Joseph said it best.

    This is not an issue!!!!!!!!!! Who cares if didnt want to speak to her or if was truly a misunderstanding. What's the big deal. The media is extremely petty for making this an issue and its ashame that stupid people are entertaining this. This was our current president's last State of the Union address and all we care about is whether Obama intentionally snubbed Hillary. Who cares!!!!

    Im neither or there for Obama or Hillary. I havent made up my mind who i am going to vote for. And Im certainly not going to base my opinion on whether he intentionally snubbed her or not.

    January 30, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  24. Dick Marti

    Obama lost the chance to rise above politics. But he chose instead to snub Hillary. He says he turned to hear a question from Senator McCaskill. This is easy enough to figure out: what was the question that Obama was asked? No question? Then Obama shows himself to be a liar, and this is very unfortunate. As I said he lost the chance......

    January 30, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  25. Marie Cole

    I was hoping he did snub her because if I had seen a clip of them smiling at each other's faces I would have thought, "Barack Obama is a fake". Fake, fake and more fake. I was glad that he sort of found some other things to do. Hillary is a back stabbing, insecure, narcissist and if she did get snubbed she deserved it. I was so glad to see that Ted Kennedy saw through the Clintons and hats off to the New York Times for the pictures of the Clintons and Kennedy's on vacation together back in 1997. I never thought much of Ted Kennedy but I will always remember him for seeing through the Clintons.

    January 30, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
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