Huffpost Politics

No Chitchat Between Clinton and Obama

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Update: During a Tuesday night appearance on Fox News, Hillary Clinton was asked for the first time about alleged snub:

WALLACE: Finally, Senator Clinton, there was an incident last night at the State of the Union address that is getting a bit of attention. When you get into the hall - we'll put the picture up -- you reached out -- Senator Kennedy and Senator Obama were standing side by side. Senator Kennedy shook your hand, and Senator Obama said he was looking to talk to somebody else. Some people are saying that he snubbed to you. Do you feel like you were snubbed you last night?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Chris, I reached out my hand in friendship and unity and my hand is still reaching out. And I look forward to shaking his hand when I see him at the debate in California. But what is important here is that any differences between us as Democrats pale in comparison to the differences between us and the Republicans, and I think we will have a unified Democratic Party... We will come together, not only as a party, but as a country in this election year, and I am confident that we are going to present a very strong case to the American people as to why Democrats should once again be in the White House.

Also, Maureen Dowd took Obama's side in her Wednesday column:

"Knowing that it helped her when Obama seemed to be surly with her during the New Hampshire debate, telling her without looking up from his notes that she was 'likable enough' -- another instance of Obama not being able to hide his bruised feelings -- Hillary went on ABC News last night to insinuate that he was rude Monday. 'Well, I reached my hand out in friendship and unity and my hand is still reaching out,' she said, lapsing back into the dissed-woman mode. 'And I look forward to shaking his hand sometime soon.'"

"Something's being stretched here, but it's not her hand. She wasn't reaching out to him at all."

Update: Check out the pic-by-pic replay here.

Update: Obama explained today his alleged snub of fellow candidate Hillary Clinton, saying he was "surprised" to hear about the coverage this morning:

"I was turning away because Claire [McCaskill] asked me a question, as Senator Kennedy was reaching for her [Clinton]... And senator Clinton and I have had very cordial relations on the floor and off the floor; I waved at her as we were coming into the Senate chamber before we walked over. I think there's a lot more tea leaf reading going on here than I think people are suggesting."

However, this explanation seemed to contradict another statement offered by senior Obama adviser David Axelrod:

AXELROD: this was obviously an awkward day from that standpoint, and I don't think he wanted to stand there while Senator Kennedy was greeting Senator Clinton and I think that was an appropriate sentiment. Unfortunately, the camera caught it in a different way, and so it got interpreted that way and that's the kind of environment we're in right now. It's a very competitive race, so every little thing is going to be interpreted in that way- but it was really, I think, a matter of letting Senator Kennedy have his own conversation, his own greeting with Senator Clinton without him hovering over them.

BRZEZINSKI: I, I guess. I mean, I guess the Clinton campaign may see it as a snub. We've been getting a few e-mails and-

SCARBOROUGH: you're right. and then it was also interesting afterwards, David --

AXELROD: -in this environment, every single thing can be inflated and interpreted and will in a political -- in a hyperpolitical light. But- it is what I suggested. I think it's understandable that he would not want to stand there with Senator Kennedy as if he were-- lording it over her. I, I, I you know, I understand that instinct.

WASHINGTON — So close, yet so far away _ and so bitter.

Rival Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama came within a foot of each other just before President Bush's State of the Union speech Monday night and managed not to acknowledge each other, and certainly not touch.

Clinton, clad in scarlet, crossed the aisle between their seats on the House floor. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Democratic icon who had endorsed Obama earlier in the day over Clinton, reached out his hand when she came close.

She took it; they shook. Meanwhile, Obama, dressed in a dark suit, had turned away.

The rivals then retreated to their seats, only the aisle and four senators between them.

It was the latest chapter in the increasingly nasty fight between the two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination and capped a dramatic day.

Hours earlier, Obama received the endorsements of Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, the brother and daughter, respectively, of President John F. Kennedy. They were joined by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., the senator's son.

The only Republican senator still running, John McCain of Arizona, skipped the address to campaign in Florida.

(This version CORRECTS the sequence of handshake.)