Mitt Romney will join President Barack Obama for a private lunch at the White House, late on Thursday morning, exactly 23 days after he lost the election. It would be the first time Romney and Obama have met since the presidential election.
The Huffington Post reports Obama promised in his victory speech to engage with Romney and consider his ideas. He said: "In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Gov. Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward."
Boston.com reports that at a press conference a week later, Obama said Romney has experience and ideas that could be "very helpful."
He said: “To give you one example, I do think he did a terrific job running the Olympics. And you know, that skill set of trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government.”
Obama said he has no "specific assignment" for Romney, but that he wanted to see if there are some ways they can work together.
Obama said: “He presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that I actually agree with. And so it’d be interesting to talk to him about something like that. There may be ideas that he has with respect to jobs and growth that can help middle-class families that I want to hear.”
According to Boston.com, before Thanksgiving, the White House called Matt Rhoades, Romney's campaign manager, and asked if Romney would have lunch with the President at the White House. Rhoades said yes and the plan for the two men to meet for lunch began.
Romney's meeting with Obama will come after he was criticized for saying Obama won because of the "gifts" he gave minorities: Hispanics, African Americans and young voters.
When asked whether Obama was considering Romney for cabinet position, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, said, "No," and added: “One of the often overlooked but remarkable things about this democracy is that we consistently have elections and either pass power to a new leader, or voters chose to continue investing the power and authority of the office in the same party or individual without violence and without the kind of anguish and disruptions we see in so many countries throughout the world and throughout history. The president feels it’s important to continue that tradition.”
Boston.com notes that it is a longstanding tradition that the President invite his rival to the White House. It began in 1960 when Kennedy met with Richard Nixon at Nixon's home in Key Biscayne, Fla.
President George W. Bush invited Al Gore to the White House after he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Michael Dukakis met with Bush after the 1988 election, and Obama with John McCain in Chicago.
The meeting between the two former arch-rivals comes as the Obama administration and congressional Republicans negotiate on spending cuts and expiring tax cuts first passed by George W. Bush. Romney and the Republicans are pushing for extension of the tax cuts for all income earners while the Obama administration is pushing to let the cuts expire for Americans earning more than $250,000 a year.
Boston.com comments that the meeting will be the most extensive ever between the two men who have had very little personal contact.
According to The New York Times, before he meets the President at the White House, Romney will meet his former running mate, Representative Paul Ryan. It will also be the first time Romney and Ryan have seen each other since the election.
There will be no press coverage of the meeting between Romney and the president, NY Daily News reports. So we may never have the details of what the two "frenemies" (as Global Post puts it) got to talk about. But Obama, as the host, will be needing help from his advisers to draw up a specific list of "things to talk about" to avoid awkward silences between two men who hardly know each other personally.
Tongue-in-cheek, The Washington Post imagines a conversation between the two men, part of which goes:
Romney: “Since we’re being so open. What exactly are your plans for the next term?”
“Oh, you know,” President Obama says. “Just socializing the means of production and killing free enterprise. Like you said! You were right all along!”
“I was going to fix the economy and make America great again,” Mitt Romney says.
“I know you kept saying that,” President Obama says. “But you never had any specifics.”
“I don’t need specifics,” Mitt says.
“I mean really, though. You can’t just wave a wand and do that.”
Mitt reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wand. “Can’t I?” he asks.
President Obama’s eyes widen.
“Kidding,” Mitt says.
“No, wave it.”
Mitt shrugs and puts it back into his pocket. “Sorry, you guys,” he says. “Mitt’s Prosperity Wand is going to stay put.”