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. bob

    I really am tired about how the media sensationalizes EVERYTHING and tries to stir up controversy when there isn't any. Maybe Hillary had bad breath. Maybe someone goosed Obama. Maybe the Sentor he turned to called his name before tapping his shoulder. We were not there. The media was not close enough to know the truth so they make up some BS to stir up controversy. Whatever happened to the media reporting the news instead of creating it.

    January 30, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. BN

    I think this shows a lot about the ethics and personality of a man who wants to be the leader of our country. If you can't put aside your differences and work together, how can we trust this man to work with other country leaders? Politics is about representing your people and what the American people need, not about your own personal feelings.

    January 30, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. DemocratGoneIndependent

    Let's get real: Hillary NEVER lies! Who cares about a handshake? He has shaken her hand numerous times, isn't that enough?

    I left the democratic party before the last midterm elections because I was so sick of the party's inability to get anything done or to STAND UP for the American people. I had been registered Democrat for 17 years, since I could first vote, but I will NOT be voting for Hillary if she gets the nomination. I'm so sick of the bipartisanship from both sides and even if Obama can't get both sides to work together at least he'll try and with a positive message along the way. I'm sick of the pessimism and separatist attitudes from everyone out of Washington. Finally we have someone inspiring us and we have to deal with this crap about a handshake. If that's the worst dirt on Obama, I'm fine with it.

    Obama in 08!

    January 30, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  4. AMB

    This isn't MSN. It's CNN. The videotape can't lie. It shows a snub. But I don't care about the snub. I do care about our future president lying about it.

    January 30, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  5. Whitney

    We have troops dying in the Middle East. We have children starving in THIS country overflowing in foster homes in desperate need of someone to love them. We have dis-ease and distress beyond measure in our world. And we have a planet SCREAMING for help. All this and more, and CNN has the audacity to report such garbage. Are you a worthy news organization or a bunch of school yard idots? Shame on you for this tabloid-like junk food reporting. You are shameless and those who have made negative comments about Obama are even bigger idiots. May they get a life, too.

    I'm not a supporter of either candidate. I just know tabloid journalism when i read it. Do us all a favor... fire the Editor and report on things in our world that REALLY matter.

    January 30, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  6. Corey Gillingham

    This whole episode is completely typical of Obama.....He snubbed Hillary completely and openly and yet is trying to spin it as if no one in the world has eyes....Its exactly like his campaign....He thinks that he is going to have people vote for him not because of any particular policy – as he has never put forward any complete policy on any issue – but because he thinks he has everyone hoodwinked into believing that he is the "new vision"... which in truth is mainly composed of bashing Hillary's years of experience, jealousy that a very charismatic past President is her husband, and piggybacking on Oprah Winfrey who has never once made a political stand in her life and in reality is using HIM for her OWN PUBLICITY.....As a non-American paying particular attention to what is going on in the election I sincerely hope that people really begin to look at what this man is, what he stands for and what he has accomplished so far in his career, and what his clear agenda for the country is because as an outsider and shockingly none of these questions is self-evident for a Presidentail candidate and that is why Hillary should and will be the next President of the United States.

    January 30, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. Anonymous

    It's absolutely RIDICULOUS to believe that this is an issue.

    Anyone who is pushing this, be them Hiliary supporters or Obama supporters are absolute morons if they think that this is anywhere close to relevent.

    January 30, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |

    Get a life, so now the media and americans are fortune tellers? What was Obama to do? I would have turned my back to her too (intentional or not). Who is Clinton. Queen Bee? Get real people Americans are facing some real issues, let's stay focused. Anything to bring this wonderful person down. Barack Obama VA, and Philly in the house, we love you and the message you bring. Caroline sumed it up. Keep doing what you do best. America is ready and tired of waiting. Media bring it on, your doing just what we expect!

    January 30, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Justin

    Jani K.....I agree with you 100%, because I've felt the same way for a while now. It does appear to the average eye that the media is intentionally pumping up Obama like he's some type of phenomenal pop star. I find this entire race so one-sided when it comes to the reporting. If Senator Clinton says one little thing about anything then it's twisted and blown all out of proportion. Obama can do no wrong. He says what he wants and gets away with it. I also noticed that during the debates he's never challenged by the moderators on tough questions. I'm a 41 year old African-American man and I'm not voting for Obama, because I don't feel he is ready or capable to handle the office of the Presidency. He's appears immature at times. His remark during that debate where he told senator Clinton "Hillary you're likeable enough" was barely mentioned in the media. I found that to be down right insulting. I need more than sermon speeches. I need a president who can begin to straighten out this mess the current administration has created. Not one who's going to give me a speech. I'm supporting the best and most experienced candidate running..............GO HILLARY! .....HILLARY 08!!!

    January 30, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. Bill - AZ

    If you read CNN's text, it is obvious Obama was nervous about the issue (untruthfull?).

    Then later in the day he puts foot in mouth with sexist comment about Clinton's Florida win being just a beauty contest. No doubt if he got the 50% it would have been a mandate in Obama-speak.

    Now his camp has made him a victim in SC, and will use race & sexism going fwd.

    January 30, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  11. Florida Butterfly Lady

    Who cares if Obama "snubbed" Clinton? This is a presidential election. There are much more significant issues that CNN could be reporting on. Does shaking your opponents hand somehow make you more "suitable" to be president? I don't think so.

    January 30, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. Deb

    Obama, Obama....face the truth now your just not ready to be the President of the United States! It's not a game, it's not a hobby and it takes someone who has resolve in the face of fear, dialog in the face of discord and calm in the face of uncertainity. You may have fooled the country with your intellect and strong speech. You are no Jack Kennedy in any comparison! Senator Clinton has all of the atttributes and more important she has my vote!

    January 30, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  13. Mark C, Asheville NC

    *** We need to vote for hillary even if we don't really care for her.. ***

    Dumbest comment from anyone, ever. And quite telling I might add.

    January 30, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. Taren

    CNN grow up and take humanity with you–interrupt that! Unless you have substantial evidence to report, don't waste the public's time with nonsense such as a photograph depicting nothing. I'm ashamed at your biasness towards the Democratic Party. Stay FAR to the right where you belong! And as for all of you democratic (humanitarian) supporters, STOP being so GD gullible for CS! Can you see what the media is trying to do?! Debate over the real issues!

    January 30, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. Penelope

    The way I see it Barbara Bush has about 12 years experience. Should we nominate her also? I'm sure no one is taking this decision lightly, but I can't understand how Hilary has so much more experience that Obama. I think history has proven that even those with the most experience can still be worthless.

    January 30, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  16. Brian - Ohio

    Is the the type of politics of "change" that we want?????

    January 30, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. morris

    Please don't vote for a candidate because they are nice, please, please look at their position on key issues. There is nothing to be nice about in politics, it is a dirty game and we all ,well.... some of us, know that at this point. Thank you TJ for that intelligent comment above. What is "nice" anyway?

    January 30, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. Brian - Ohio

    Is this the type of politics of "change" that Obama represents???

    January 30, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  19. kevin s.

    its sad to see that most of the hateful comments are from women, manners didnt matter 3 weeks ago when they were lying about this mans records. no morals or anything else mattered then..... no matter what this man does you still wont give me a fair shot. alot of women seem to have there own agenda,

    would hillary even be a senator if she wasnt married to bill? would she even be running for president if her husband wasnt president? people need to wakeup and look in the mirror and be honest with themselves first. if you cant be honest with yourself... then who are u fooling? the lack of inteligence in this country is really showing, its a sad day.

    January 30, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  20. jason

    grow up people. i cant believe people are losing sleep over this. i fear for america if this 1 little incident decides who you vote for. this is politics not american idol

    January 30, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  21. Chris

    Another example of money grabbing, stuff the facts journalism. The press would love nothing more than a split in the number of delegates at the democratic convention so that the conventions then become a BIG story too. So what they decide to do is play up a complete non -story when Obama does something remotely wrong and then in two days time there will be a completely different story about Hiliary or Bill and about another complete non issue which makes them sound bad. This constant see-sawing of the press means that nobody ever gets full momentum and the race keeps going back and forth. Therefore people are more interested in the primiaries for longer = more money for network news.

    Is it any wonder that a lot of americans don't know what many of the issues at stake are, when the press cares to concentrate on playground disputes such as Obama doesn't shake Hilary's hand or Hilary says something about Obama. Its ridiculous! When was the last time as policy based article was written?

    Personally I like Obama and i also like Hilary but if you look at the policy platform of the three leading dems in this race Edwards anti-lobbyist anti corporate interest stance is the exact thing that America needs. However the press couldn't make a story out of him so he got no press coverage.

    January 30, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  22. MD

    You'd think with everything else going on there wouldn't be any "slow news day" tabloid stories like this.

    January 30, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Wow it's no mystery what demographic you people are that hate Obama. Comments posted on this forum make me realize there is a fine line between stereotypes and facts. I am not a democrat, but I support anyone who has a real chance of putting an end to the dreams (or nightmares) of a Hillary Clinton presidency. I think he did snub her on purpose, but for good reason. I think he was worried that if he looked at her and she opened her mouth, he might smack her in the face. Nothing wrong with having a little self control. I have to do it myself every time I see her on TV. But seriously this is not an issue that should have an impact on either campaign. What is an issue is the constant hypocrisy displayed by so many voters. Bush and Hillary have the same goals as president, so you can't hate one and like the other. Hillary, like Bush and so many presidents before him, would get into office and do whatever she could to make as much money as possible in four or eight years. The highest office in the land has become nothing but an instant lotto jackpot for those elected. Isn't that one of the main things people want to CHANGE? Can you imagine if we had a president that actually worked for the American people instead of himself? I don't know why, but for some reason I think Obama could be that person. And this is coming from a republican who is a strong supporter of John McCain!

    January 30, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  24. Tara

    WHO CARES!?!? Obviously Ride-or-die Hillary supporters are going to act as if this is a tell-tale sign of God-knows-what, but really, this is a non-issue.

    All of you are worried about having a polite president, how about we have a president who doesn't CRY because campaigning is difficult? IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY! I think our president should be a little more resolved and stronger than that.

    I know this is hard for people who look for any little excuse like a third-grade essay to discredit a truly honest man, but maybe, JUST MAYBE, A POTENTIAL SNUB DOES NOT MATTER IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS!!!

    GROW UP.

    And I am very disheartened at CNN for this story, but what should I expect from a media outlet that had "Britney Spears Files for Divorce" as a breaking news headline on an election day.

    OBAMA '08!

    January 30, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Jason

    I personally don't care what people think about this moment, I saw the replay of the SOTU, and caught this moment. The more I look at it, I don't think it matters as much as everyone thinks it does. Here's the real deal, I flat out refuse to vote for Clinton on the grounds that her tactics seem unfriendly. Anything she does seems to reflect on her foreign policy.

    Either way you read this, I'm still not voting for her, I would rather not vote, or cast for a republican, than to vote for her.

    January 30, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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