Obama, Romney meet at private White House lunch
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives at the White House in Washington on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, for his luncheon with President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:27PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:33PM EST
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and former Republican rival Mitt Romney met for a private lunch at the White House on Thursday, their first meeting since the Nov. 6 election, fulfilling a promise Obama made in his victory speech.
Romney left after just over an hour.
The White House said the lunch focused on America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position, and the two pledged to stay in touch.
"The president noted that Gov. Romney did a terrific job running the Olympics and that that skills set lends itself to ideas that could make the federal government work better, which is a passion of the president's," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Obama and Romney's meeting was likely their most extensive private talk to date. They had only a handful of brief exchanges before the 2012 election, and their campaign interactions were largely confined to the three presidential debates.
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."
For Romney, it was a day of closure after a hard-fought campaign.
Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, his former running mate, met earlier in the day to talk about 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.
Romney has virtually disappeared from politics following his election loss. He's spent the past three weeks largely in seclusion at his family's California home. He has made no public appearances, drawing media attention only after being photographed at Disneyland in addition to stops at the movies and the gym with his wife, Ann.
Meanwhile, the Secret Service said a man interfered with Romney's motorcade as his vehicle arrived at a secure checkpoint near the White House. The man was later arrested after he became combative during an interview with a police officer.
Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said the man, who was not identified, was standing near a security entrance to the White House and got in the motorcade's way. The vehicle stopped briefly at the security gate and then entered the White House complex.
Milien said the man was later interviewed by a uniform division officer and became combative. He was charged with assault on a police officer and unlawful entry.
A CNN video of the incident shows a man briefly heckling Romney near the passenger side of the sport utility vehicle before it proceeded through the gates and onto the grounds of the White House.