Thursday, November 29, 2012

President Obama And Mitt Romney Have Lunch At The White House, Pledge To 'Stay In Touch'

At luncheon devoted to discussing America's leadership, President serves his former challenger a Southwestern menu...
In their first meeting since the bitter election race, on Thursday afternoon President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney had a private luncheon at the White House to discuss America's leadership role in the world, the White House said in a readout.  The closed-press tête-à-tête began at 12:30 PM and lasted more than an hour in the Private Dining Room adjacent to the Oval Office.  The menu "included white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad," the White House said, and released the photo above of the President and Romney shaking hands in the Oval Office after their lunch. 

"Governor Romney congratulated the President for the success of his campaign and wished him well over the coming four years," the White House said.  "The focus of their discussion was on America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future."

President Obama and Romney "pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future," the White House said.

The President and his rival last met face to face in late October at the third Presidential Debate in Boca Raton, Florida.  Briefing reporters while the luncheon was taking place, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the President and Romney might be comparing notes about their experiences on the campaign trail.

"There aren't that many people who have run, been nominees for their party," Carney said. "There aren't that many people you can talk to who know what it's like."

During the campaign, Romney insisted that President Obama was destroying the economy, and when asked if the President might now embrace some of his ideas, Carney was cautious.

The President is "very interested in some of Gov. Romney's ideas," Carney said,  but when pressed for details, he would only cite Romney's rescue of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and say that Mr. Obama hoped to apply that know-how to his own plans to improve government efficiency.

"There were certainly things that the two men agreed on" during the campaign, Carney said. "I wouldn't say it was the majority of things. It wasn't."

Romney declined to speak with reporters on the White House grounds as he arrived in a black SUV, and entered through a side door in the West Wing.  Carney would not say if the White House had sent the car for Romney to bring him to the mansion, and the former Governor also avoided reporters when he departed the presidential residence. 

*White House photo by Pete Souza