Fulfilling a promise he made on election night during his victory speech, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met for lunch today.
What was on the menu? Among other items, white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken sandwich.
During the lunch, which lasted just over an hour, the two men discussed America’s leadership in the world and how important it was to maintain that leadership. The meeting was the first between the two presidential candidates since their final debate, and it was likely the longest amount of time the two had spent together up to that point. It was also Romney’s first major public appearance since his electoral defeat.
Will the lunch lead to more interaction between the two men in the future? They did pledge to stay in touch if opportunities to work together presented themselves in the future, and there has been some talk of Romney taking a Cabinet position during Obama’s second term.
Many have pointed out that the post-election lunch is, more often than not, nothing more than a polite gesture. Although Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford as well as George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton became friends, those were exceptions. More frequently, relationships between the president and the candidate he defeated are strained, and often don’t even make it to a lunch meeting. Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan never met for lunch, and neither did John Kerry and George W. Bush. The relationship between Romney and Obama has been described as chilly at best by many pundits.
Perhaps that’s why this event was closed to the press. No reporters were in the room during the meal, nor were photographers allowed in to take photographs. The only information about the event came out during today’s news briefing by White House press secretary Jay Carney. Carney said, “Each man wanted to have a private conversation. They didn’t want to turn it into a press event.”
Interestingly enough, Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan met for breakfast earlier today. Ryan later released a statement thanking Romney, saying:
“I remain grateful to Governor Romney for the honor of joining his ticket this fall, and I cherish our friendship. I’m proud of the principles and ideas we advanced during the campaign and the commitment we share to expanding opportunity and promoting economic security for American families.”
And while Romney will likely continue to stay out of the spotlight in the near future, Ryan will be smack-dab in the middle of it, as Congress and the President try to reach an agreement to avoid going over the fiscal cliff.
–Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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