Jesse Jackson Jr., Rod Blagojevich, Michael Madigan and that hug....

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House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich engage in a peace hug at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

[Photo by Lee Milner]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was the hug to end all hugs.

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s strange peace offering aimed at ending the mortal feud between then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) stands as one of the most memorable moments from four years ago when Illinois Democrats gathered in Denver.

Blagojevich, of course, is now in a federal prison in Littleton, Co., while Jackson is being treated for bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic, leaving Madigan the only survivor in Charlotte from that surreal moment from the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

“I thought about that yesterday. Both of those guys are absent now, aren’t they?” Madigan said when asked about his memories of that infamous hug.

Pressed on the significance of their absences, the longest-serving House speaker in Illinois history quipped: “Well, you need good staying power in this business, and you’re looking at it.”

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