The Clinton-Obama Relationship Is, Was, And Will Likely Always Be Complicated

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Eight years ago, Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in a tight primary race. What followed was a somewhat contentious working relationship and years of awkwardness, which presumably ended in unity. On Thursday, Obama formally endorsed Clinton just days after she crossed the delegate threshold and declared herself the presumptive Democratic nominee. Some enterprising social media detectives even figured out when he recorded his endorsement video, in which he said, “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” He did so on Tuesday — after the delegate announcement, but before Clinton effectively ended Bernie Sanders on the final Super Tuesday. The Bern’s still sticking around despite Obama dropping his announcement just after their White House meeting. And the reason for that burn timing will be a mystery for the political ages.

However, Obama and Clinton’s ups and downs played out in a much more public way. They’ve been rivals, co-workers, and allies. Clinton spent much of her campaign scratching his back, and he’s returned the favor. Sure, she occasionally slips off script, which may have been why she hinted at Bill Clinton’s future role in “revitalizing the economy.” Some people interpreted that as Hillary judging Obama’s not-so-great economy. But mostly, these two enjoy a very workable relationship now. The fury of their former rivalry has long been extinguished, and they’ve settled into a figurative old-married-couple level of comfort. Or so they want us to believe. Exactly how well do Obama and Clinton get along, and is this a strategic endorsement that shall benefit both parties? To find out, we need to travel back in time to the 2008 Democratic primary battle.

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