By BEN FELLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Barack Obama and Bill Clinton sealed their political alliance with a bow and a bear hug.
It didn't last long, but Obama and Clinton's center stage moment Wednesday showed signs of what was once unthinkable for the former rivals. The two presidents seem to actually like each other.
They certainly need each other. Obama turned to the popular former president, who oversaw an economic resurgence, and asked him to make the case for a second Obama term at a time of high unemployment. Clinton needed him to continue to be relevant in the party he once led, and perhaps help pave the way for a future Hillary Rodham Clinton candidacy.
The famously long-winded Clinton commanded the stage for about 50 minutes, while Obama watched backstage -- and waited.
It was well past 11 p.m. when Clinton wrapped up and the podium lowered into the floor. Obama sauntered on stage, waving to the crowd with a wide smile on his face.
Clinton turned to Obama and gave a deep bow. Obama pulled the former president into a full embrace. Then they put their arms around each other, walked to the center of the blue-carpeted stage and soaked in the thunderous applause from the crowd packed to the rafters in the Time Warner Cable Arena.
But they didn't milk the moment. After just 60 seconds, they walked off the stage together, both smiling, Obama with his hand still clasping Clinton's shoulder.
On the convention floor, several former Clinton aides hugged and slapped high-fives.
Noticeably absent from the Democratic gathering was the woman who once divided Obama and Clinton, then helped bring them back together. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now Obama's secretary of state, was literally on the other side of the world, doing diplomatic business in East Timor.