President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday tried to wind down the latest in a series of occasional public tensions and awkward slights.
The two and their spouses were among 150 guests at a birthday celebration near where the president and his wife, Michelle, are spending their August vacation.
The Obamas “were happy to have the chance to spend time with Secretary Clinton and former President Clinton,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. “The Obamas danced nearly every song. A good time was had by all.”
But as to the hug that Clinton said would seal good relations between the power duo? No details from Schultz, alas.
This round of discomfort between the two, arguably their biggest since their slugfest for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president, started when Clinton told the Atlantic magazine that the administration’s failure to block the rise of Islamic terrorists in Syria was now giving rise to the violence in Iraq.
Obama’s former top foreign policy hand also dissed her old boss’ onetime foreign policy mantra – “Don’t do stupid stuff” – as small bore.
As the Obama camp took offense, the former diplomat quickly tried to rewind the comments with a statement asserting she meant no criticism. She called Obama on Tuesday to tell him that was the case and later told reporters she hoped the two friends would soon be hugging it out.
Clinton’s clear attempt to lighten the tone wasn’t exactly matched by the White House, where aides already are dreading the months of friendly fire ahead as Clinton positions herself for a possible presidential run.
The president “appreciated” the call, Schultz told reporters earlier in the day. Obama
values Clinton’s advice, “but more importantly he appreciates her friendship.”
And now the White House was moving on. “They have a close and resilient relationship,” Schultz said.
The party Clinton and Obama attended feted Democratic bigwig Ann Dibble Jordan, a longtime Chicago philanthropist.
It was neutral territory; Jordan has ties to the Clinton and Obama spheres. She is the cousin of Valerie Jarrett, an Obama senior advisor, and the wife of Vernon Jordan, a Democratic power broker and a former advisor to President Bill Clinton.
The private party was packed with vacationing Democratic heavyweights. (The row came, inconveniently, during high summer social season on the resort island.) The president and first lady stayed longer than expected at the dinner.
That may be the end of it – at least for a while.
“We are looking onwards and upwards,” Schultz said.