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. TomWinWA

    OK, someone help me here...why is this newsworthy?

    What does this have to do with the issues? Why does CNN focus on this seemingly random action, and ignore the Clinton campaign's Brown Shirt tactics in Nevada?

    No wonder the rest of the world despises the U.S., if this is our idea of "important".

    January 29, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Lance in Monrovia

    The news has no idea what to report on so they actually create news.

    Obama is a good man and a politician. No politician, good or bad, ever does anything but be polite in public. the idea that Barack Obama somehow didn't be anything but polite is media induced nonsense.

    get a life people. go back to brittney spears for your gossip, or else get off your butts and actually start talking about real issue and the very real future of this country that is in jeopardy if Barack Obama DOES NOT get elected.

    He's the best hope we've got for a real leader.

    As Ghandi said, "there go my people. I must follow, as I am their leader."

    Be the change you want to see. Get involved. Vote. Call your friends and call strangers and knock on doors and shout to the rooftops that its time to change the world.

    And leave the petty ignorance at home. We've all seen what it can do.

    Obama 08

    January 29, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. Sarah

    This is a true indication of his character. Both he and Hillary have fired blows – she chose to rise above, he avoided her.

    Is this who we want for president? I was undecided but I am strongly in support of Hillary after only hearing the words "change" and "hope" and nothing of substance behind it. We need someone capable and ready to fix this mess!

    January 29, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  4. Tim, Seattle

    Seriously, Hillary lovers...is that all you got? Sad.....

    January 29, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. Russell

    When you go to shake a group of people's hands, don't you normally start with the closest person to you? Clinton reached across Obama to get to Kennedy.

    January 29, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. james, newport, KY

    The Clintons are masters at making big stories out of nothing and yet denying the stuff that really matters, like integrity.

    Still, this is all part of their strategy to turn off the voters and keep them home, they know that is their only chance of winning.

    January 29, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Economy Romney

    When Economy Romney says jobs jobs he won my vote he has the right balance.

    What the democratic side says doesn't matter anymore.

    Bill Clinton turned off voters to the party with his comments that Jesse Jackson
    also won South Carolina.

    We know what he was saying and thats not a party I want to be part of.

    We know Bill Clinton lied to the Senate when he said I never had sex with that woman. He is of such poor character nothing would surprise me.

    January 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Mark

    Hillary Clinton is not God or miss lucky charm -just the opposite ->

    Jessica Yellin, too bad you were forced to cover Edwards and got nothing else to report.

    January 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Kate

    Hillary Clinton supporters and surrogates,
    Please get a life!!!
    Why should Obama go out of his way to acknowledge those who think that they are entitled to the party nomination? The Clintons have launched several visceral attacks on Obama and i dont see that he should be going around trying to acknowledge her presence.

    January 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. John A

    Gotcha Obama!!! CNN emulates "You Tube".

    January 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. mary ward

    I am shocked the news media would report this since they have crowned Obama before I have had a chance to vote. He does not answer questions directly, he gives some cock-eyed speech about loving your mankind or some crap like that. The news media does not mention Rezko because they view Obama just like they did with Bush, hands off no questions asked.

    It's called the Good Ole Boy System, it's been around for 200 years. Yes, we need change, we need a woman. Remember, if it sounds to good to be true, it isn't

    January 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    To D.G.

    Thank you for making the statement about the hatred flooding out of Clinton supporters. I have always been a supporter of Senator Obama, but, before all of this nonsense, I was going to support the nominee in the general election. After reading the posts by Clinton supporters for the last couple of weeks, there is no way I can put my support behind her if she wins.

    Please understand the difference between criticizing someone on a legitimate point and hate mongering, because the latter is what you are doing.

    January 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. Don

    Obama did snub Clinton and it goes to show you what his politics of change might be. There is nothing here for Clinton supporters to spin, because it is what it is. He is so up on his perdistal, hopefully we will now start to see the real man. As for CNN. About time. If this would have happened in the reverse, people would have been all over Hillary. I think she showed great dignity by going over to shake Ted Kennedy's hand after he endorsed Obama. Obama saw her, and he turned away. This just sheds a bigger picture on whats been happening in his campaign and I hope more of their tatics will soon be focused on. The Obama team is not squeaky clean.

    January 29, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Emily

    I'm not sure what the big deal is here. It's not as though Hilary is going to be the first and last thought Obama has, and I hardly think he really cares one way or the other who she shakes hands with. In that light, he turned at the moment Hilary and Kennedy shook hands. SO WHAT?! That doesn't necessarily make it a "snub." Maybe he didn't care any more than some of us "mortals" do whether she and Kennedy shook hands or swapped cookie recipies. Surely being a witness to Hilary's actions was not the priority for Obama at the State of the Union Address.

    January 29, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Carlos nazario

    WHO CARES? These are two people fighting for the biggest position on the planet! The way the Clintons have been campaigning, would you blame him for not speaking with her? The Clintons learned their campaigning agianst the worst, the Republicans. This is the only way to beat them. I am glad that the Dems are finally showing some life! Obama is getting bashed and treated like some obnoxious little kid by Clinton(s). He, unlike other Dems, is fighting back! Tensions are high so right now they won't like each other much. Let's get to the real issues!

    January 29, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Chuck, Miami Fl

    Yes it will cost him the election.
    Rezko will really be the end to Obama and all the pissed off women in America too.

    January 29, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. Bob

    As a European citizen living in DC, I'm surprised to see the fuss about this non-issue.. Especially after the poor speech of the President yesterday, I would expect more focus on that... To me, Obama is a good diplomate who will be most welcome in Europe.

    January 29, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  18. ginny

    Slow news day?

    January 29, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. Indus

    Let me summarize

    Obama – All words no action – Winer, always misunderstood.
    New Name MR Misunderstood

    Edwards 08

    January 29, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. tom

    shame on cnn
    is this a news organization or gossip magazine, what has our country come to
    i can't bear that our media has stoup to so low
    this is a non issue
    while people are losing their homes, our troop are dying, children living in proverty and economy lies in ruin. this is what they report

    January 29, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  21. Ginny CA

    Well, Obama, somebody up there snubbed her. Sen. Kennedy perhaps. . .NOT!! Why do you always lie when you're caught in some less-than-flattering light (shady connection to Rezko comes to mind) and NEVER take responsiblity for your actions?

    January 29, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. Sarah

    So Jennie Lee, how big is Obama's but?

    I guess it's okay to throw that at Hillary – I've heard her called "too wrinkled" and "thunderthighs" by people.

    Yah, and there's no sexism out there.

    Do you truly believe Hillary staged this? Are you for real?

    January 29, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |

    SARAH ARE U OK?????????

    hillary ran a smear campaign against this man........and ur saying she avoids blows??


    January 29, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. Tony

    obama need to be polite and humble and should not take things to personal. Let your personal feeling involve at work is not a good thing. GO HIL 2008

    January 29, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  25. PunditMom

    Just like high school.

    January 29, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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