Will hug bring peace to Illinois Dems?

DENVER The political hugfest took place Wednesday morning at the Illinois delegation breakfast in Denver.

The governor and house speaker are bitter, political rivals. But if they can show affection for each other, the Democrats can hope that supporters of N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton will back Ill. Sen. Barack Obama.

That scene at the Illinois delegation is one that, if someone told you about it and you didn't see it yourself, you might think they were kidding.

Maybe it was the tremendous sense of history in Denver as the party nominates its first African-American presidential candidate. Whatever the reason, it still prompted a political moment the likes of which most have never seen before.

The most extraordinary of mornings in Denver began with Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush, who is recovering from cancer surgery, reminded Illinois delegates that life is too short for so much fighting and feuding.

"I find so many people saying 'Well, congressman, you have to always let them know it's better to be seen than to be viewed," Rush said.

Rush's comments sparked a totally unexpected hugfest when the next speaker, Jesse Jackson Jr., moved to the stage where he was overcome with emotion as he tried to patch up a longstanding feud with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

"I've been trying to do that for 14 years," said Jackson.

Then Jackson said it was time for the bitterest of political rivals, Governor Rod Blagojevich and house speaker Mike Madigan to feel the love.

"This is what political conventions are about, forgiving each other and redeeming each other and moving on," said Jackson.

"I've always had high personal regard for Speaker Madigan. You know, it's good to see him again, great to talk to him again, good to have an opportunity to embrace him," Blagojevich said.

"I don't know if there's a thaw in the works. I know we've worked with him over the six years he's been governor, and we will try to continue to work with him," said Steve Brown, Madigan spokesperson.

Does this mean that when they get back to Illinois, will all the years of feuding dissipate somewhat? The party will at least be unified behind Barack Obama between now and November. After that, with the ramp-up for the 2010 elections, it could be back to business as usual.

"I didn't have to hug anybody because I love everybody," said State Senate President Emil Jones.

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