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Obama hosts Romney at White House lunch

By Julie Pace & Steve Peoples

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:48 a.m. HST, Nov 29, 2012

WASHINGTON » Bitter campaign foes just weeks ago, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met for lunch at the White House today, discussing America's leadership in the world and pledging to stay in touch after a bitter presidential contest.

In their first meeting since the election, Obama and the Republican nominee shook hands in the Oval Office and had an hourlong lunch in the White House's private dining room, fulfilling a promise Obama made in his victory speech the night of Nov. 6.

The White House said Romney congratulated the president for his successful campaign and wished him well in the coming four years.

Over a lunch of white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad, the conversation focused on America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position.

White House officials said the two men pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future.

Prior to the lunch, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had no specific agenda for the meeting, but he said the president wanted to discuss Romney's ideas for making government more efficient. Obama has proposed merging some functions of government related to business and has asked Congress for authority to undertake some executive branch reorganization.

Obama aides said they reached out to Romney's team shortly before Thanksgiving to start working on a date for the meeting.

For Romney, it was a day of closure after a hard-fought campaign.

Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who was his vice presidential running mate, met earlier in the day to talk about the pending fiscal cliff negotiations and other economic challenges facing Washington, a Ryan aide said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to discuss the private discussions.

On a personal level, the pair discussed their families and talked about the harried 12 weeks of the general election campaign.

"I remain grateful to Gov. Romney for the honor of joining his ticket this fall, and I cherish our friendship," Ryan said in a statement after their meeting. "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."

Much of that debate centers on expiring tax cuts first enacted in the George W. Bush administration. Obama and Romney differed sharply during the campaign over what to do with the cuts, with the Republican pushing for them to be extended for all income earners and the president running on a pledge to let the cuts expire for families making more than $250,000 a year.

The White House sees Obama's victory as a signal that Americans support his tax proposals.

Obama and Romney's sit-down today was their most extensive private meeting to date. The two men had only a handful of brief exchanges before the 2012 election.

Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom called it a "very friendly lunch. They spoke about some of the big challenges facing America, and it gave Governor Romney the opportunity to personally congratulate President Obama for the success of his campaign."

Even after their political fates became intertwined, their interactions were largely confined to the three presidential debates.

The meeting was not without incident. The Secret Service said a man interfered with Romney's motorcade as his vehicle arrived at a secure checkpoint near the White House and was later arrested after becoming combative during an interview with a police officer.

CNN released video of the SUV carrying Romney arriving at the check point, showing a man briefly heckling Romney before the vehicle entered the White House complex.

Romney has virtually disappeared from politics following his election loss. He's spent the past three weeks largely in seclusion at his family's Southern California home. He has made no public appearances, drawing media attention after being photographed at Disneyland in addition to stops at the movies and the gym with his wife, Ann.

Peoples reported from Boston. Associated Press writers Philip Elliott and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

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kainalu wrote:
I imagine crow was on the menu.
on November 29,2012 | 10:11AM
Ripoff wrote:
i know beer wasn't lol
on November 29,2012 | 11:16AM
hawaiikone wrote:
I'm sure Romney will freeze some so he can return it to Obama in a year or two.
on November 29,2012 | 01:02PM
RingRing wrote:
Romney now knows there's one thing his daddy couldn't buy him. . .
on November 29,2012 | 08:07PM
hawaiikone wrote:
Guess you'll be dining as well.
on November 30,2012 | 05:29AM
RingRing wrote:
Yes, crow goes down easiest when it is still warm. . .
on November 29,2012 | 08:05PM
AlohaKakou wrote:
"Be careful what you wish for." I don't envy Obama as the "winner" . . . meanwhile Romney has been on a month long vacation at Disneyland and SoCal with his grandkids.
on November 29,2012 | 11:40AM
serious wrote:
I didn't vote for him either time, but I wish him well. Lots of things he can do--after four years of blaming Bush, I am sick of it. HE has to get a plan. Taxing people at $250K will not do it--make it $500K as Buffet suggests make more sense. Get a works progress adminstration as FDR and Eisenhauer did and get our roads and bridges done. This gets the people who voted for him to work--no education, no job skills, just pour concrete and slam a hammer. Pay them a wage and get the economy going. Cut the entitlement programs where it makes sense--people live past 80 now, not 70. Get some relief from a country that graduates 16,000 doctors a year, but 54,000 attorneys--something wrong with this picture? We need electricians, plumbers, skilled laborers, not thousands of liberal arts students. Math teachers, science teachers, sure---history and literature and art teachers, but with masters degrees. Kick it up a notch.
on November 29,2012 | 01:41PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Those liberal arts students will slam a hammer at $30/hr ya? or will we all sit back and wait for the handout?
on November 29,2012 | 02:29PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
More class warfare comments? You act as though the educated, gainfully employed didn't vote for President Obama. Wrong. We did.
on November 29,2012 | 05:12PM
hawaiikone wrote:
There are exceptions to every rule....
on November 30,2012 | 06:58AM
64hoo wrote:
he invited romney to lunch to discuss about romney joinlng his cabnet as secretary of commerce and help with improving the economy thats why obamas victory speech where he said he would like to meet romny in a few weeks to discuss the debt and economy. thats why i said a few weeks ago romney might be offered the secretary of commerce job.
on November 29,2012 | 05:24PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Not likely....
on November 29,2012 | 08:33PM
64hoo wrote:
i hope your right and romny turns the job down
on November 29,2012 | 08:42PM
IAmSane wrote:
on November 29,2012 | 10:27PM
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