Clinton, Obama keep distance at Bush speech

/ Source: The Associated Press

The state of their union? Icy.

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

It was quite a feat, given the packed House floor, the customary bear-hugging and jostling among other members. Then a doorkeeper sat the rivals in the same row, only an aisle and four senators between them.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was not caught in the middle. The Democrat from the iconic political family had taken sides earlier in the day when he endorsed Obama over Clinton. Kennedy was seated beside Obama, away from Clinton.

Nonetheless, Kennedy reached out to shake Clinton's hand when she came up the aisle. Clinton took Kennedy's hand. They shook. Obama had turned away.

A doorkeeper, caught in that highly awkward dance, cringes in the photo that captures the moment.

It was the latest chapter in the increasingly nasty fight between the two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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.

Clinton had lobbied hard for Ted Kennedy's endorsement.

In other handshaking news, Bush shook Obama's hand after the speech but not Clinton's.

The only Republican senator still running, John McCain of Arizona, wasn't there to shake any hands. He was busy doing that in Florida, which holds its primary on Tuesday.