The former president helped with high-profile fundraisers, but relations remain complicated.
NEW YORK - There were charges of racism, sexism and disrespect. There were hurt feelings and angry outbursts. Friendships were frayed and tens of millions of dollars were spent.
But the great Obama-Clinton war of 2008 appeared to be little more than a distant memory on Monday when President Obama and former President Bill Clinton -- the most reliable deliverer of Democratic dollars -- took the stage to raise big money for Obama's re-election bid.
It's a Wash-ington ritual--bury the hatchet. And it has rarely been practiced so publicly. Four years after the primary that divided the Democratic Party, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the face of the Obama's foreign policy and Bill Clinton has become a reliable political ally.
For the most part. Behind the smiles, backslaps and golf, the hatchet is not forgotten. Things remain complicated.
Just last week, Bill Clinton undermined a key Obama campaign theme when he said presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney had a "sterling" business career. The Obama campaign portrays Romney as a job-killing tycoon. The next day, the men landed on opposite sides of a Democratic primary race for Congress in New Jersey.
Yet, Obama and Clinton have had moments of surprising comity. In 2010, Clinton showed up at the White House to help sell a tax deal reviled by many Democrats. More recently, Clinton praised Obama's foreign policy chops in a campaign video.
The joint appearances were the second of their three planned fundraising outings for Obama's re-election -- and the first before TV cameras. Clinton said a Romney presidency would be "calamitous for our country and the world," and Obama had the "right economic policy." "[Obama] has good politics ... he deserves to be re-elected," Clinton said, adding that he "has a pretty good secretary of state too."
The day's main event was "Barack on Broadway" at the New Amsterdam Theater in Times Square. About 1,700 people paid at least $250 a head to see the two presidents, as well as performances by Stockard Channing, Neil Patrick Harris, James Earl Jones, Tony Kushner, Angela Lansbury and Patti LuPone.
Obama thanked Clinton for "his legacy," saying Clinton led the Democratic Party out of the political wilderness with a "common-sense progressive agenda."