Obama, Romney to meet privately at White House
In this Oct. 16, 2012, file photo, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney exchange views during the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012 1:46PM EST
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will host former political rival Mitt Romney for a private lunch at the White House on Thursday, their first meeting since the Nov. 6 election.
Obama promised in his victory speech to engage with the Republican following their bitter campaign and consider his ideas.
Thursday's lunch will likely be their most extensive private meeting ever. The two had only a handful of brief exchanges before the 2012 election. Even during the election, their interactions were largely confined to the three presidential debates.
Obama aides said they reached out to Romney's team shortly before last week's Thanksgiving holiday about a meeting. The men will meet in the White House's private dining room, with no press coverage expected.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was looking forward to having a "useful discussion" with his former competitor. He said there was no formal agenda for the lunch.
One topic of discussion may be the looming so-called "fiscal cliff," the combination of expiring tax breaks and deep spending cuts that will take effect Jan. 1 if Obama and a divided Congress can't reach a deal to avoid it. The economic impact has been estimated at more than $670 billion for next year alone, and it threatens to send the U.S. back into recession.
Much of the debate between the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress on what to do about the fiscal cliff centres on the expiring tax cuts first passed by former President George W. Bush. Obama and Romney differed sharply during the campaign. Romney pushed for them to be extended for all income earners, but Obama wants to let the cuts expire for families making more than $250,000 a year.
Another topic of discussion at Thursday's lunch could be Romney's idea to raise money instead by capping taxpayers' deductions. He floated the idea during his campaign.
Romney has virtually disappeared from politics since the election. He's spent the last 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.