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Peace and love? *** UPDATED x6 WITH VIDEO AND PHOTOS *** Rep. Miller, Sen. Jones embrace *** MJM & RRB are convention seatmates ***

Wednesday, Aug 27, 2008

* I think I made a mistake by not going to the convention…

An emotional U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. called on warring Democrats to unite Wednesday at their national convention and said he wouldn’t be satisfied unless Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan hugged.

On a makeshift stage at the hotel where the Illinois delegation is staying, Madigan got up and walked toward Blagojevich and the two hugged.

The moment came after Jackson teared up when he hugged Mayor Richard Daley, saying he had tried to get to know the mayor for 14 years. Just two years ago Jackson was incessantly criticizing Daley as he explored and then backed away from a potential challenge in the 2007 mayor’s race.

Jackson also hugged Debbie Halvorson, with whom he’s been sparring publicly, and Bobby Rush.

* More from this morning

Jackson was overheard saying, “I won’t be satisfied until the governor and Michael Madigan hug too.”

Then… Blagojevich and Madigan actually did hug, and a standing ovation followed, with the room erupting in cheers.

Wow.

*** VIDEO UPDATE *** From Chicago Public Radio…


*** VIDEO UPDATE 2 *** The Tribune has another video posted.

*** VIDEO UPDATE 3 *** The governor talks about the morning’s events…


* From CPR’s blog

What a morning at the IL delegation breakfast at the Denver Marriott! Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. talked about reconciliation and bringing the IL democratic party together. He pointed out Congressman Bobby Rush and jumped off the podium to reconcile. They hugged on the floor which was a very powerful moment. He then called out Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times and reconciled with the media. In the video below, he starts by asking if there is anyone else he should reconcile with since he’s on a roll. Mayor Daley surprisingly steps forward and hugs Congressman Jackson Jr. That’s just the beginning of one of the biggest stories of the IL delegation here at the DNC.

* Some were skeptical

Following the rousing speech by Jackson, Madigan declined to comment.

Senate President Emil Jones Jr. seemed skeptical.

“It all remains to be seen, you know,” said the Blagojevich ally. “So I don’t know whether it is genuine or not.”

*** PHOTO UPDATE *** From the Daily Herald

* The goodwill started yesterday, apparently

Illinois delegates have been wondering how the tension between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan will play out when both of the state party leaders showed up in the same room at the Democratic National Convention.

But they were all smiles and yucking it up Tuesday afternoon during a long private chat after the governor arrived fashionably late at an Illinois reception hosted by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. […]

The speaker’s 22-year-old son, Andrew, may have played the role of intermediary or at least a neutral topic of discussion as the governor asked about his new career in real estate with Mesirow Financial Corp.

Andrew is a born conciliator. The governor has told me before that the thing he respects most about Mike Madigan is the way he’s raised his son, Andrew, and the relationship the two have with each other.

* It turns out that Gary LaPaille, who has long been estranged from Madigan, may have played a major role

Mr. Madigan and Mr. Blagojevich were, typically, in separate corners of the room when Mr. Madigan’s former chief of staff, Gary LaPaille, went and talked to each man and then, eventually, pulled them together.

Messrs LaPaille and Madigan themselves have feuded for years. But according to sources who asked not to be named, Mr. LaPaille told his ex-boss that if the two of them could talk together, so could Mr. Madigan and Mr. Blagojevich. In that conversation, sources said, the speaker agreed to take a second look at the governor’s proposed capital program, which has been stalled in Mr. Madigan’s House.

A Madigan-LaPaille rapproachment is even more unlikely than a Madigan-Blagojevich truce, so this was truly something out of the ordinary.

* After yesterday’s private meeting…

Blagojevich also acknowledged that [he and Speaker Madigan] discussed the possibility of meeting, as early as Wednesday, on a proposal put forth by Sen. James Meeks to provide about $40 million to a pilot program of giving extra help to some schools in high poverty areas in Chicago and around the state.

*** UPDATE 4 *** Rep. David Miller and Senate President Emil Jones have been on the outs for years. But the on-stage hugging was apparently contagious. From a Rep. Miller press release…

This morning Illinois Senate President Emil Jones and I put aside our political differences and embraced. I witnessed the coming together (and embracing), of Congressman Jackson and Mayor Daley. And, most notably, Governor Blagojevich, and Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, who have been at odds, embraced one another after hearing Jackson’s compelling call for Party unity. It was a symbol that goes beyond description.

*** UPDATE 5 *** Ben Calhoun has a great play-by-play of this morning’s activities, and so does Lauren Fitzpatrick.

* The Sun-Times has more on the future

Does it mean Illinois Democrats will move forward on a road and infrastructure construction bill and other other issues gridlocked in Springfield since Blagojevich and Madigan stopped communicating?

Maybe not.

Madigan huddled with Blagojevich for 20 minutes at a Daley party Tuesday — the first talk between the two in a while — then Madigan huddled with Meeks at this morning’s breakfast. But after the celebrated hug, Madigan left the breakfast refusing to take any questions.

Madigan’s spokesman threw cold water on the idea of reading anything substantive into the “symbolic gesture” of a hug.

Meeks said he had no word on whether a lengthier meeting would happen. He said his first-day-of-school boycott will go ahead Tuesday unless state leaders agree to free up $120 million for schools in poorer districts.

Blagojevich doubted an agreement could be reached by Tuesday and urged Meeks to call off his boycott anyway.

“Notwithstanding the love fest you just saw, and all the hugging and kissing, I can’t commit Speaker Madigan or Senate President Jones to something,” Blagojevich said. “I don’t know that it’s physically possible to round everybody up.”

But Blagojevich said he was optimistic the hug might turn out to be more than just a symbolic gesture. The governor at first refused to discuss what he and Madigan said to each other at Daley’s party.

“I did ask him, ‘I hear that you’re prepared to meet with us and Rev. Meeks,’ and he said he would,” Blagojevich said.

* As does the AP

It remained to be seen whether Wednesday’s reconciliation would survive the delegation’s return to Illinois.

“I just wonder if it’s the altitude,” Blagojevich said later, referring to Denver’s thin mountain air. “We’ll find out when we get back home.”

*** UPDATE 6 *** If you’re watching tonight’s convention coverage, you’ll see that as of 6:10 pm, Speaker Madigan and Gov. Blagojevich are sitting next to each other at the convention. Dan Hynes is next to Blagojevich on the other side.

Strange days

* Related…

* School Boycott On or Off?

* Blagojevich to run again. In Denver he says, “I love my job.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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