President Barack Obama will welcome Republican Mitt Romney to the White House on Thursday for a private lunch—reporters are not welcome.
"There will be no press coverage of the meeting," the White House said in its announcement that the former rivals would hold their first postelection talks.
Obama soundly defeated Romney after a hard-fought, often bitter campaign that offered contrasting visions of taxes, spending and the role of government in boosting the economy. While polls throughout the campaign suggested a close race, Obama ultimately carried 332 electoral votes, far more than the 270 needed for re-election. The former Massachusetts governor won 206 electoral votes.
Obama had said in his election night victory speech that he aimed to sit down with Romney "in the weeks ahead" for a conversation "about where we can work together to move this country forward."
At a Nov. 14 press conference, Obama said he had not yet scheduled a meeting because "everybody needs to catch their breath" after the election.
But "there are certain aspects of Gov. Romney's record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful," the president told reporters.
Like what? "Well, to give you one example, I do think he did a terrific job running the Olympics," Obama replied. "And that skill set of trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government.
"There are a lot of ideas that I don't think are partisan ideas but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer-friendly, how can we make sure that we're consolidating programs that are duplicative, how can we eliminate additional waste," the president went on.
"He presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that I actually agree with. So it would 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.
"So I'm not either prejudging what he's interested in doing, nor am I suggesting I've got some specific assignment. But what I want to do is to get ideas from him and see if there are some ways that we can potentially work together," Obama said.