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. NimbleJack

    Holy unnecessary drama Bat-man! I think the democrats are going to blow their entire opportunity for the presidency.

    Edwards drop out and we're left with these two attention seeking pop-culture nominees. The presidency will soon become a reality TV show.

    Guess I'm voting republican this time around.

    January 30, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  2. Everett

    Ok. So if someone's husband came out and started attacking you because you were a threat to their "Kingdom" and you decided not to be the 1st person to shake their hand when they come by...I DON'T blame him. Hillary can play the nice role on this if she wants. Truth is the Clintons got upset because they see that they are ACTUALLY going to have to work to obtain this nomination and that it will not just be given to them(like they think it should), so Bill took some shots at Obama and THEN when they were getting a negative feedback from it all is when they decide to call it "truths" So please spare the world with how Obama reacted...Because most of us would have done the same.

    January 30, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Johnny

    Deciding votes on body language? There are a lot of incredibly stupid people that live in this country.

    January 30, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Michael

    All of you who think this an issue is reason # 12315262 that this country is falling apart...

    January 30, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. Twenty

    Is this even an issue, there are alot of sheep reading this article.

    January 30, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Manuel

    Unfortunately, I am not able to vote in this country. The Clintons should simply ignore this issue and have an opportunity to show their superiority in the matter.
    As for Obama, he's posture and behaviour was quite obvious; and this would not have really mattered much, had this been a simple gathering. However, it was the State of the Union's speech, under watchful eye from millions of people, and at the very least, as a candidate for the American Presidency – you are obliged to give an example of politeness and etiquette.
    But clearly, Obama either did not mean to be impolite, which leaves us to think that he is not formed enough to understand this and thus hold a post of such importance and influence worldwide – or simply that he really is arrogant, and thinks that he is above any mannerism –

    So, just think for a minute..........

    Is this the President you want to represent you ?

    January 30, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. Dias

    Senator Obama is attempting ,with the help of conciencious people, to change for the better the world we live in.
    The arrogance that the media is implling would certainly come from the Clintons before anyone else. They will manipulate ANYTHING and, I stress ANYTHING to regain power.

    There has never been a situation when Senator Obama has shown to be anything less than a polite, well manared gentlemen.

    Defendinf himself from untruths said about him by the Clinton campaign does not constitute in my view a negative or undignified campaign. What should any normal person do when they are deliberately misquoted, specially during a seriously important US presidential bid? It seems to me that if he had not been attacked by the Clintons , Senator Obama would have never been put in that position. So stop manipulating facts to start honoring senator Obama as the well manared statesman that he has proven to be.

    Another thing, who is the real presidential candidate? Mr. or Mrs. Clinton?
    It is a very sad state of affairs when the FIRST WOMAN presidential candidate in this US of A has to stoop down AND DO POLITICS LIKE ALL THE MAN BEFORE HER. As a woman this is very undignifying and defeats the whole purpose and pride I could feel if I was properly being represented by Mrs. Clinton.
    Their tactics are old and tired. They do prove to me now that they represent the way of the past. The American people deserve better than the way these people are conducting themselves. SHAME ON YOU CLINTONS. It is time for you faze into the past and let a new America florish.

    January 30, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. Taren

    Oops…I meant interpret that.

    Oops…I meant interpret that.

    Voters please take mental note and stay aware that the media support those candidates who are able to speak through their hands and buy their words. Consequently, the media’s words and visual representation are full of biasness and manipulation. Don’t be fooled America. Can we try to (at the very least) be independent thinkers who are not subjected to the nonsensical maneuvers of the media? Such is my hope for the 2008 elections.

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

    Well, when it's all said and done and whether it was done consciously or not, there is no question that as a presidential candidate involved in a very heated race you are very cognizant of where you are and where the candidate you are running against is at any given moment.

    Many have questioned in previous posts why this would be so significant if it were true that Sen. Obama actually turned his back as she approached, thus turning away from his opponent.

    Someone even previously posted. without giving the statement much forethought:

    [ You want to shake hands with someone that has been talking about you for the past month and a half.]

    Well, YES you do want to shake hands with your adversary!

    If you can not be a person having character and demonstrate that you are a statesman, then how are you ever going to expect to lead the most powerful country in the world and face the leaders of other countries where we do not agree with their policies or position?

    That very not-so-subtle "snub" as people are referring to it as, speaks volumes on the true character of Sen. Obama and has really surprised me.

    The media sadly will spin this for both camps and maybe it's become blown out of proportion to a small degree, however it does paint a not so perfect picture of the other candidate representing all of the democratic party,

    I support Sen. Clinton based on her platform and as a person that I know will actually lead this country, not backing down or turning from any issue or any person that she has to face.

    January 30, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. Wes

    You are all ridiculous. This bickering over 3 minutes of social interaction is excellent evidence of how easily manipulated the public is; are you really judging a presidential candidate based an issue created by a news producer who couldn't find anything else interesting happening in the room at the time? GROW UP, stop feeding into this trivial garbage and letting news stations guide your judgment.

    January 30, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. ade ademola

    ......... 'out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh'.

    how do you expect obama to react after all those NEGATIVE propaganda during the campaign (after all he is human). to be fair to him how many of us would not react the same way.

    finally i wish to reiterate that cnn should stick to issues because america and for that matter the whole world is bigger than clinton, obama and a 'SNUB'

    January 30, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Ebony

    CNN: For the love of the nation, will you please focus on the issues in this presidential race instead of this mindless fodder!!!! If we must talk about this foolishness, lets focus on all aspects. For example, over the past few weeks, Hillary Clinton, her husband, and her "famous" supporters have told lies about Sen. Obama's stance on the issues and have slung mud his way. No one in your news room is racing to get voter reactions on that. Well, here is a quote for you on that, "Hillary Clinton, through her actions, has proven herself to be the same untrustworthy, deplorable, and venomous politician that needs to be removed from the leadership of this nation."

    Give us REAL news, please. Stop with this divisive crap.

    Voters: I challenge you to look past the garbage that you see on this website, on your televisions, and in your newspapers that is nothing more than gossip in the guise of political reporting. We all need to be focused on doing what is best for our nation, and that does NOT include a stupid debate over who snubbed whom!

    January 30, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  13. DG

    Who cares? We are all human. I like Bill and Hillary, but Hillary deserved the snub. It's like fighting with your sister or brother, you always make up afterwards. Hillary and Bill made a mistake when they unjustly attacked Barack and if Barack snubbed Hillary, then he made a mistake. Keep our eyes on the big picture and make your decision about these two people on something bigger than a questionable snub.

    Don't make the same mistake we've made before. Don't vote for someone because you like their Father or Husband and don't use a questionable, insignificant, human moment to hate.

    January 30, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. Josehp Piggley

    Its all politics my dear. Obama acted shamefully i agree but why vilify him that way. Up Republicans.

    January 30, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Karol, Enfield, NH

    I'd hate to think we could have a President who would behave this way. Imagine the damage if he'd treated the leader of another nation in the same manner, say at a G8 meeting.

    He can talk about being an outsider and changing Washington all he wants - good points, yes. But this behavior smacks of immaturity, and we DON'T need that. We need someone who can work with people whose opinions differ from his/hers and the first step toward that kind of relationship is common courtesy.

    January 30, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. dcm

    Is this really news worthy? I bet this wasn't the first time she's been snubed and by God, it won't be the last.

    January 30, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Joann

    did anyone see last night when they interviewed Hillary after Florida win and asked her if he did in fact snub her? Being the lady she is she just said "I extended my hand and it will still be extended at the Debate Thursday", "it's etiquette, but in the end this is not the issue that people want to hear". This leads me to say he did snub her because if he didn't, then why wouldn't Hillary just say No, he didn't; his back was turned when I got there, absolutely not!! I extend my hand to Hillary, she quite a lady and a statesman or stateswoman. Oh did anyone just see, Edwards is dropping out and he says he's not endorsing anyone that this time; what a traitor, they all said they would support the nominee but he is too cowardly to make a choice right now and wants to see who makes it through Super Tuesday; Hillary fans, lets show em;

    January 30, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. Mike D

    If you will look back at the debates its Hillary that looks Obama right in the face when she responds to negitivity. She even looks Obama in the face when he talks smack about her. Obama just glances over to her when she speaks. Obama
    just plan dosnt know how to handle Hillary . If he cant handle Hillary how in world is he going to get any thing done as a president. Obama if your such a great uniter your not showing it. Ted kennedy the women of the nation have back you for a long time and you just slaped them in the face. Hillary you have the gut to face negitivity in the face. Thats the kind of president i want.

    January 30, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. crc

    OK the Clintons can lie about Obama and not apologize, but Obama cant snub the clintons, which by the way they deserve. Not fair.

    January 30, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. John, Arkansas

    I just love how the repulbicans are posting comments on here pretending to be democrats who will now vote Republican due to the issues Hillary and Obama have. Do you honestly think that people are stupid? Oh wait... Most republicans do. Look at our current President. I think our Country has had enough of the Republicans and more then enough of the Bush Administration. I'm sure most of us can agree on that.

    Hillary all the way...
    Johnathan, AR

    January 30, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. lou dallas,tx

    ...this is really a laugh....the democrats and their preaching about any of their candidates is the choice of change for our country....!!!...man....these guys can't even unite their own party, much less try to unite our country....is there anybody else the democrats have that can try a run for the presidency, because what they have to offer now in Billary and Blah Blah and the pretty guy.....c'mon...there is somebody else...right....!!???

    January 30, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. ladymercury

    What does this have to do with the state of politics for this nation? Seriously. Who cares if he snubbed her - what matters is what he's going to do in the office not what he does at social functions with his peers.

    If another presidential canidate did this - no one would have paid attention. It's because Obama and Clinton are the front runners in this current election that people are turning every little thing in to front page news. It's really really sad.

    It's getting to the point that it looks like I'm watching a poorly written reality TV show.

    January 30, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. Sara

    Barack Obama is giving to charity more than $70,000 in contributions linked to an indicted Chicago businessman whose past connections to the Democratic presidential candidate have created a distraction and raised questions about his judgment.

    kinda funny he waits until the man goes to jail to give it back when he knew of his wrongdoing before.

    Obama's relationship with Rezko came under greater scrutiny this week after prosecutors disclosed Rezko received $3.5 million from an Iraqi billionaire while claiming to be broke. He was jailed on Monday and a federal judge on Tuesday refused to reinstate his b

    I am NOT voting for a dishonest man that has A LOT of growing up to do!


    January 30, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Jenny

    Speaking of crybaby. I read on CNN and not seen any response, that James Carvelle and Beldela, whom support Hillary were taken off CNN until after the primary's are over because they both support Hilary Clinton. The Obama campaign complained to CNN about it and got them taken off. Ever wonder why now only anti Hillary panels are set up on the newscasts who continue to bash and re hash their gripes against the Clintons. And now the threat of Oprah coming to Crybaby's aide in California once more. God help us. What kind of favors is this man going to owe everybody if he gets the nomination. Big daddy Teddy and Kerry giving their fatherly advise will be worse than Karl Rove and Dick Cheney running the White House. Obama already said he won't be the CEO and will leave it to others.

    January 30, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  25. Obama guy

    We must rally around Obama. He is the only one who can sit with our Muslim brothers and make peace. We need to learn from Barak, he did not snub Mrs Clinton, but it is against his religion to touch her. This does not mean she is un-pure, but she is a woman. We must support him now and allow him to educate us.

    January 30, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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