Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush were probably happy to have their joint appearance on Tuesday night overshadowed by the president’s speech – though it seems the public was more concerned about the meeting than the presumed 2016 rivals themselves. Bush, chairman of the National Constitution Center board, joined Clinton onstage in Philadelphia as she was awarded the center’s 2013 Liberty Medal. Some conservatives claim the event spells the end of Bush’s presidential ambitions, but if he was worried about appearing with Clinton on the eve of the Benghazi attack anniversary, he didn’t show it. “Secretary Clinton is out of office. So am I. I’m not sure what people expect to happen here tonight,” Bush joked. “We do agree on the wisdom of the American people, especially those in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
The president’s speech also allowed Clinton to gracefully back out of her previously announced plans to deliver a “robust policy speech” at the event. “It’s simply and obviously not the right time,” a source told Politico. “Furthermore, she is very mindful that she will be speaking only an hour or so before the President addresses the nation.”
Clinton has already said twice that she supports the president’s efforts on Syria, and she only touched on the topic briefly on Tuesday night. “The president will address the nation shortly about the Assad regime’s inhuman use of chemical weapons against men, women and children,” Clinton said. “It demands a strong response from the international community, led by the United States. This debate is good for our democracy.”
The rest of her remarks were about the wisdom of the Constitution, and other non-controversial historical topics. She also reminded everyone that her husband is friends with Bush’s father, and the pair were co-recipients of the 2006 Liberty Medal. “Today, Jeb and I are not just renewing an American tradition of bipartisanship, we’re keeping up a family tradition as well,” she said. It may not be enough to prevent a nasty election fight a few years from now, but it’s enough to keep them cordial for one night.