President Barack Obama and the Republican he defeated to win a second term, Mitt Romney, met privately for a lunch at the White House that ended with pledges “to stay in touch.”
It was the first meeting for the two men since the Nov. 6 election, which Obama won with 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206. The president’s spokesman said there was no agenda for their discussion over a lunch menu of white turkey chili and southwestern grilled chicken salad.
“It’s a private lunch and we’re going to leave it at that,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
A statement released afterward by the White House said Obama and Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, discussed “America’s leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future.”
“They pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future,” according to the statement.
Obama is interested in “Governor Romney’s ideas” about how to make the government more efficient, Carney said.
“Somebody with Governor Romney’s experience clearly would have insight,” Carney said, citing the Republican’s experience as a businessman, head of the U.S. 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and as a governor.
Obama is negotiating with congressional Republicans over how to avoid more than $600 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to go into effect Jan. 1 unless a deal to cut the deficit can be reached.
While in Washington, Romney also met with his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
In his victory speech in Chicago on election night, Obama said he would “look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”