The thaw started as a matter of political necessity: Their party was desperate to retake the White House after eight years of Republican rule. Hillary Clinton offered Obama a gracious endorsement, both Clintons campaigned for Obama, and the newly elected president picked his former rival to be America's chief diplomat.
It took longer for Obama's relationship with Bill Clinton to soften as the two men found common ground in the pressures of the presidency.
When Obama's health care bill was in trouble, he and his staff, which included several veterans of the Clinton White House, called on the former president for help. In late 2009 and early 2010, Bill Clinton went to Capitol Hill to rally support and worked the phones with wary Democratic lawmakers.
After the Democratic party was battered in the 2010 elections, Obama called in Clinton for an Oval Office meeting. Afterward, the two made an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room to talk to reporters. When Obama had to leave for a holiday party, Clinton stuck around, relishing in the attention and the give-and-take with the press.
That day in the briefing room underscored what some Democrats see as their one major worry in pairing Obama with Clinton too often. The ease with which Clinton connects with a range of audiences can call attention to the challenge Obama sometimes faces in doing the same thing.
But that certainly hasn't stopped the Obama campaign from seeking Clinton's help in winning a second term, and Clinton has made it clear he is ready and willing.
Obama's campaign advisers have sat down with Clinton for strategy and advice-seeking sessions, and the former president had a prominent role in movie produced by the campaign in which he promoted, among other things, Obama's decision to order the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
"There is no better Democratic ally than President Clinton," said Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.