January 29th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama: I didn't snub Clinton

ALT TEXT

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. Evan

    I can't believe this is actually being made an issue, regardless of the parties involved. How ridiculously childish and belligerent.

    January 29, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Ray

    Its funny how Obama supporters are saying, "Who Cares" or "This is not news" ....UM WE CARE and IT IS NEWS. It shows how Obama is not ready yes. He is a baby and this proved it. You would think Hillary would be the one to stay to herself on the other side because of the Kennedy snub! No, She was the mature one to GO OVER TO HIM!!!

    GROW UP OBAMA!!!

    This is news. Its shows how immature Obama is!!

    January 29, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. Karen

    Obviously this has taken on a life of its own–and the fact that this has generated so many comments means it does have some importance to people. Obama's campaign manager, Axelord, saw fit to give an explanation for what appeared to many of us to be Obama's rude and immature behavior last night. Axelrod's explanation was that Obama intentionally turned his back to Hillary in order to permit Hillary to have a private moment with Ted Kennedy. Not only is this explanation pretty weak (did you see the number of people crowded around Hillary and Ted?) but it also contradicts the explanation that came straight out of Obama's mouth–that he turned away from Clinton because another senator had asked him a question. Of course, that senator who supposedly asked him a question has herself said that this occurred after Hillary appeared. So much for Obama's explanation. I don't think people should decide on voting for a candidate based upon just one occurence such as this, but I do think it is one more thing we, as voters, may consider, if we choose to do so.

    January 29, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. Dee, Plano Texas

    Senate President Pro Temp(Robert Byrd) and Senate Majority Leader( Hary Reid) MUST CENSURE OBAMA IMMEDIATELY. OBAMA'S BEHAVIOR IS NOT IN LINE WITH SENATORIAL DECORUM. THERE SHOULD BE AN INVESTIGATION INTO HIS UNBECOMING DEMEANOR. OBAMA SHOULD APOLOGIZE TO SEN CLINTON FOR THIS INCIDENT OR RESIGN .THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHES AND SUCH BEHAVIOR TARNISHES THE IMAGE OF THE SENATE.

    January 29, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Another Steve

    I don't see this as being in the eye of the beholder. Both Obama and Hillary have said there is no substance to this. This is journalism gone amuck. Speculation by one of your supposed newspersons looking for an angle.

    January 29, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Rich In Seattle

    Talk about desperation on the part of the Clintons. They couldn't find anything to smear him on so now they make something up because of a picture. The sad thing is the sheep that follow her will flock to this without thinking for themselves yet again.

    I am a life long Democrat, if Hillary is the nomination I'll vote for McCain without a second thought. The best thing that can happen for the Republicans is Hillary to get the nomination.

    They will hand the white house to the hands of the Republicans.

    January 29, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    GROW UP AND STOP ACTING LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN (MOMMY, HE DIDN'T LOOK AT ME), IT's GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH EITHER OF THEM BEING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICAS

    January 29, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. Stushie, Knoxville, TN

    GET A LIFE, MEDIA PEOPLE

    January 29, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. tracy

    I think Nick is correct!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Tim, Seattle

    LOl.....all the Hillary folks trying to do a Rorshack test with a picture. I am sorry you feel your candidate got dissed. Are you that insecure with your candidate that you make an issue out of whether they acknowledged each other or not at a State of the Union address? Its not like she stuck her hand out and he turned away. Or vice versa.
    Its only a snub if someone actually makes a gesture and you ignore them. That diddnt happen, so stop making things up just because your candidate is in trouble.

    The tide is turning in this primary race......future vs the past.
    Obama '08

    January 29, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. carmen

    That is how educated and informed are the Hillary people . They should read the news going around the world about how positive will be for America to have Obama as the next president of the USA.

    January 29, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. MA

    Stop creating the news.

    January 29, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. reality_check

    Talk, Talk, Talk, Change, Change........you american, at best, voted for a talk show host...........gees, get a life and vote for Hillary !!!!!!!

    January 29, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. observer

    Even if it was “unintentional”, it was stupid. He knew all eyes were on him and T.K. yesterday. The moment he realized that his strongest opponent was there he should have simply showed some dignifying grace through some simple simbolic gesture. If for nothing else then for the sake of the public. Nothing of this would have happened in that case. He got himself into this mess and that is plain dumb. It tells you something about his sense for political implications of a particular moment. Something you would like to have as a president, I guess. And please don’t give a new statement now that you did not see her at all at that moment.

    January 29, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. d

    Doesn't look like he is talking to the senator he mentioned, now does it.

    HILLIARY FOR PRESIDENT !!

    January 29, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. i.t.

    who cares.

    January 29, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  17. checkthisout

    FACTS:

    Obama says he turned away because Sen McCaskill had asked him a question just when Sen Kennedy and Sen Clinton were shaking hands.

    Look at the Picture.

    Does it look like McCaskill was asking a question?
    To me it seems she was clapping her hands.
    Pretty odd for someone to clap their hands while at the same time ask a question.

    Jessica Yellsin reports that Obama was looking towards the back of the room while Sen Clinton and Sen Kennedy were in conversation for nearly 5 Minutes.

    Clearly, Obama was avoiding Hillary.

    January 29, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. Agnes

    Another lies from Obama, the Prince. Obama the Prince is the candidate with immunity for criticism.

    He lied about hailing the Republicans as "The Party of Ideas", he said he did not while I heard/saw it over and over in t.v.

    January 29, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. The Observer

    "Nonstory January 29, 2008 2:37 pm ET

    Obama reminds me of Tony Blair who, at only 41, became one of the PM the Uk has ever had."

    Tony Blair also turned out to be more style than substance – not to mention a proven liar over Iraq.

    January 29, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Old T - Cincinnati Ohio

    Please tell me there are other Dems out there who are terrified by this man! I have been voting Dem since 1984 when I was first able to vote. If Obama gets the nomination then I will be sure to sit this one out. I will not hold any responsibility for getting this man elected. I think Matt had it right with the "wolf in sheep's clothing" comment. Something about this guy is just not right and I am not even a Clinton supporter. The last time I had this feeling about someone was when GW Bush ran in 2000 and we all know what he turned out to be.

    BEWARE PEOPLE!

    January 29, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. DD

    The reporter that really made tjhis the only story she/he was able to pick whole galour of state of the union affair should be send home. This is the most stubid story I have read in this 2008. Give us a breake on this kind of story.

    January 29, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  22. Chris in FL

    CNN:

    My comments are at least civil, and still never get posted on here. Yet Jennie, who's slamming Hillary and her "big butt" gets a post???

    This doesn't need to be polluting your website. In the interest of keeping personal attacks on a candidate's physical appearance out of the conversation, I would ask that this posting be pulled from the Ticker:

    Jennie Lee January 29, 2008 2:36 pm ET

    THAT'S IT!! I WILL NOT VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON IN NOVEMBER. I BELIEVE, AS DO ALL THE OFFICE WORKERS IN MY COMPANY BELIEVE HILLARY CLINTON STAGED THIS EVENT JUST TO GET ON CAMERA AND TO GET HER HATEFUL, RACIST, NASTY SUPPORTERS TO JUMP ON OBAMA AGAIN.

    IT'S NOT TOO SMART, DUDES AND LADIES, BECAUSE BIG BUTT CANNOT WIN WITHOUT THE AFRICAN AMERICAN VOTE. TRY IT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

    ASK JIMMY CARTER WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS SECOND TERM. THIS DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS LOOKING MORE AND MORE LIKE THE PARTY OF DAVID DUKE.

    JUST SAY NO TO HILLARY CLINTON AND HER DIVIDING THIS COUNTRY TO BENEFIT HER BIG WID BUTT.

    January 29, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. Joann

    Waah, Waah, Waaah, Poor Poor Obama. See, again he feels he has to justify his rudeness. I just knew he had a crappy attitude from first site. He never smiles, shakes hands and signs autographs with that pout on his face; he's just not a good sportsman and by the way those "inspirational" speeches the media keeps hyping up – you don't think Obama just makes them up do you? Hell no, they are probably written by "Jesse Jackson". Oh no, I mentioned Jesse Jackson, they're probably going to think Bill Clinton put me up to it. They have speech writers and telepromptors. Get Real. I just knew by his facial expressions, Mitt Romney too, they have tempers and are sore sports. Watch them closer. Hillary is our next Pres. You want change? then vote for a woman. Oh and remember Obummer is half white too!!

    January 29, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. California Lady

    How can you people be so stupid. I am really disappointed both in CNN and the American people that you would let a picture sway your vote. You were not there and you don't know what happened. Get a life people and let's get a little more serious about this important vote.
    Talk about body language if you want but at least be fair and analyze Hillary's body language as well.
    Sheeesh – what a bunch of foolish people on this blog.
    Good-bye. My vote stays with the winner – Obama.

    January 29, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. Ray

    Jennie Lee...You were never going to vote for Hillary anyways.

    Like she "staged" this. Girl, stop drinking at work!!

    January 29, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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