President Obama and Mitt Romney pledged to stay in touch and work together on “shared interests” during a lunch Thursday at the White House.
The meeting in the White House Private Dining Room was the first post-election meeting between the two since the end of a bitter campaign three weeks ago.
Obama did not offer Romney any kind of position in his administration, but the two men “pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future,” according to a White House summary of the meeting.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Thursday that there was no “agenda” for the meeting other than a civil face-to-face between the two men after the heated campaign.
During the lunch — which was organized a couple of weeks ago by Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades — the governor congratulated Obama on the success of his campaign and wished him well over the coming four years.
“The focus of their discussion was on America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future,” the White House statement said.
The lunch was the buzz around the White House on Thursday, and reporters strained their necks to see Romney make his way from the front seat of a black SUV and duck into the West Wing at 12:29, just a minute before the two men where scheduled to sit down.
Romney did not enter the White House with any aides. Gone was the Secret Service detail that accompanied him for months. And the former governor was allowed access to the White House after he provided his full name and social security number, as every other guest is cleared into the mansion.
Media members were not allowed into the lunch, in order to avoid a spectacle, Carney told reporters on Thursday. “Each man wanted to have a private conversation,” Carney explained. “They didn't want to turn it into a press event.”
Instead, the White House released a photo of Obama and Romney shaking hands in the Oval Office, near Obama's desk.
Kevin Madden, who served as a senior adviser and spokesman to Romney during the campaign, wrote on Twitter that the photo documented “a genuinely nice moment.”