White House hopeful Barack Obama on Tuesday dismissed reports that he had snubbed his rival Hillary Clinton by refusing to shake her hand, saying the pair had "cordial relations."
"I waved at her as we were coming into the Senate chamber before we walked over," he said of Monday night's meeting in Congress as they arrived to listen to the State of the Union address by President George W. Bush.
Television images showed Obama turning away as Clinton, his fierce rival for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, approached him and Senator Edward Kennedy in the chamber.
But Obama told journalists in the plane as they headed on a campaign stop in Kansas, that it was just bad timing as he had turned to reply to a question from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, who was standing at his side.
McCaskill also accused the media of trying to hype up the incident, saying "everybody is spoiling for a fight which is the politics of old ... it was a friendly moment."
Monday's Senate rendezvous came just hours after Kennedy, a veteran Democratic leader and the last surviving brother of assassinated president John F. Kennedy, endorsed Obama for president.
It was a stinging blow to Clinton and came after days of attacks on Obama by her husband, former president Bill Clinton, which had reportedly angered Kennedy.
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