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. Anonymous

    does this matter at all? so what if he did "snub" her? what are they, best friends? no, they're competing. pretty sure athletes snub each other in the middle of a game, race, competition etc. and then afterwords return to congratulate, shake hands blah blah blah. this is ridiculous!

    January 30, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. Uncle Quilly

    Wow.... this is news? Did I click on CNN for Kids by mistake?

    Next there will be an article about John Edwards cutting in line at the water fountain.

    January 30, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Kendall

    With all that is going on in America and around the world today, I find it interesting that all we do have the time for is to discuss this issues. GROW UP

    January 30, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. AJ

    One question....WHO REALLY CARES????? Is this really what our political world has come to????

    January 30, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. Mike

    This is pathetic!! Why does OBAMA constantly have to defend is actions!! If he was a WHITE MALE, this would not be a problem.

    BUT because she is a WHITE female, HOW DARE HE snub her!!

    January 30, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. Michael Tedford

    Hey, I haven't been able to read all of the posts but I wonder, why was Clinton trying to shake the hands of someone close to Obama? Maybe she was trying some funny stuff herself. Obama is just not very smart ladies and gentlemen, he should KNOW THAT THE CAMERAS ARE GOING TO BE ON BOTH OF THEM ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE IN THE SAME VICINITY. I'm sure Bill will have a comment about the whole fiasco! You know what would be funny? "First Man" Bill Clinton"! I understand that the spouse of the president gets to redecorate the White House. If Hillary wins, how will Bill change the house? I think it will look like a Frat house! That's why, I like the fact that the two Democratic front runners are being crappy to eachother, it just makes the Republicans look that much better! Keep it up Obama and Clinton because you are turning voters off all over the country!

    January 30, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. Travis

    Its stories like this that made me change my homepage from CNN to The BBC. American news is going down the toilet. Its sad, really. This is not an issue. Write about more important stuff than this!

    January 30, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. 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 here or there for either 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 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Kathleen

    Why oh why is this a big story? Were these reporters inside Obama's head or Clinton's head?

    It's ridiculous that this is even being given the amount of attention it's gotten.

    January 30, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. Ian

    Look at all these biased opinions, it is hilarious. You can tell from each post what axe each person has to grind. Keep it going, stuff like this really matters!

    January 30, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. TLW

    So what's wrong with snubbing Billary? Get over it.

    January 30, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. John

    Obama did snub Ms.Clinton and is NO DOUBT about it. He is not polite and he thinks he is huge, but look at how many states he won and how many Ms.Clinton won. With this he will be more down in the GOP race then ever before. I do not like to see someone in the White House that does not know how to respect his coleges. Plus Ms.Clinton has many years of experience in the Senate, and this guy with a short time there thinks he has touched the sky. NO...Ah..Almost forgot...HE DOES NOT HAVE MY VOTE.

    January 30, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. Aaron

    If the only thing the media has to report on is one human being turning there back on another out of pure accident then this presidential race is becoming more and more pointless or maybe its because the blood sucking media is just looking for some way to get us to pay more attention, either way this whole situation is irrelevant and if we must get caught up in this race we might as well worry about who's plans and promises appeal to us, not who we think is to rude to be president, maybe we need a president that knows how to turn there back on certain things. But I know one thing if I had a chance to turn my back on Mrs. Clinton I would do it in a heart beat right after extending my middle index finger in her general direction.

    January 30, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  14. Amanda

    Looks like Obama is still pouting about getting roughed up in the last debate. We need someone more mature as our president. If Hillary had done this we would never hear the end of it. As usual, Obama will deny and deny and deny, and then tell us again, when other candidates propose exit strategies, how he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

    January 30, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Anonymous

    SO WHAT IF HE DID SNUB HER?!!! Who among us have not snubbed someone you either don't like or had any kind of confrontation with? Just think about the crap both camps having been saying about each other...are you serious! If your neighbor was saying nasty things about you that were not true or even if they were true and they were spreading it around, YOU WOULD SNUB THEM, TOO!!! How foolish to think that because someone is running for president that they are no longer entitled to express human emotion. I'm only interested in who can do the best job for this country! THAT'S IT...NOT WHO SNUBBED WHO!!! I'm so tired of this teenager in high school crap from the media and the stupid Americans who are playing RIGHT INTO IT!

    January 30, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. sunlight


    HOW WEIRD????????

    January 30, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. David

    Whether or not it's true, and honestly, who really cares...

    He keeps coming off as a whiney candidate with ego issues. He needs to ACTUALLY LAY OUT HIS POLICY and shut up about everything else.

    January 30, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  18. Jim

    I believe this discussion should have been over yesterday when Vince from Arizona stated:

    "THIS….. IS….. NOT….. AN….. ISSUE……."

    January 30, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. LooDobbs MooVon

    OK, first off it is ridiculous to have a thread this long about a topic so trivial...but then, I guess that makes me a hipocrite for contributing to it; oh well.

    This is a non issue, who cares if he snubed her- I probably would have too. This is the type of minutia that isn't really an issue until media outlets like CNN play the clip a dozen times each hour MAKING it an issue, then discuss the blogs like this and responses saying it isn't an issue....laugh a little, then play the segment another dozen times. This is the type of thing and media driven issue that killed the Howard Dean campaign. They played that clip over and over, making him look like an idiot.

    January 30, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  20. Bob


    January 30, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  21. George New York

    WHO CARES!!! Hillary reached out to talk to Senator Kennedy, and Obama respected their privacy/relationship and turned away to give them a moment to speak among themselves. What is wrong with that. I would have been less impressed if he would have jumped in and interrupted them in a fleeting moment of jealousy. At least this proves he is a mature individual.

    January 30, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  22. Hester

    I doubt it was an intended snub, just an awkward moment. Kennedy had endorsed Obama that morning and directly addressed many of Hillary's accusations, so I imagine Obama didn't feel right participating in their conversation. Besides, did she make an effort to greet him? Why does it fall to him to make the first move? In the end, I don't think this matters much.

    He's human. I probably would have felt awkward, too, and would have looked to a nearby friend for conversation. Any suggestion that this was some kind of high school silent treatment is just silly.

    January 30, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. Oy!

    Umm, okay. Slow news day? Why is there even a discussion about something so trivial? If Obama did or did not snub Hillary, big deal. It isn't like she exactly went out of her way to shake his hand either. Those who would switch their votes over something like this, probably shouldn't have the right to vote at all, but alas we still have SOME rights left. (curse you, Patriot act...) Now play nice and stick to the issues.... in particular the ones that REALLY matter.


    January 30, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  24. JCM

    Who cares!

    January 30, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. Frank

    Hillary will say any thing to get elected. She is a modern day Nixion with her bag of dirty tricks.

    January 30, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
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