Chicago Dem brings the hugs back to the DNC

September 5, 2012

One Illinois Congressman is reviving an unusually intimate show of party unity at the Democratic National Convention: hugs.

Chicago Congressman Mike Quigley finally did it when he took the stage at Tuesday’s delegation breakfast.

“Four years ago, we had a lotta hugging,” Quigley said. “Remember the hugging?”

Quigley was referring to the Democratic hug-fest that broke out among the fractured party at 2008’s convention in Denver. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., initiated a round of hugging among some of the delegation’s most bitter political rivals, including  ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan.

At the time, divisions and disunity amongst Illinois Democrats were getting unwanted national attention, as party leaders worked to get their native son, then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, elected into the White House.

On Tuesday, Quigley jokingly directed his affections toward his former colleague on the Cook County Board, John Daley. But Quigley was quick to say the Illinois delegation is not as fractured as it was in 2008.

“There’s going to be some tension and disagreements among politicians," he said. “But this is a pretty tranquil convention.”

So why bring back the hugs?

“It just occurred to me that the hugger and the huggees are not here four years later,” he said, referring to Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., who is on a medical leave from Congress while he receives treatment for bi-polar disorder and gastrointestinal problems, and Blagojevich, who is now in federal prison serving a sentence for corruption.

And after getting his hug, Daley didn’t seem to mind.

“We became, uh, good personal friends,” Daley said. “And let’s just say, uh, he is a hugger.”

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