President Obama to meet former rival Mitt Romney Thursday
(CNN) — President Barack Obama and his former rival Mitt Romney will meet Thursday for their first get-together since the November 6 election, according to a statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
“On Thursday, Governor Romney will have a private lunch at the White House with President Obama in the Private Dining Room,” Carney wrote. “It will be the first opportunity they have had to visit since the election. There will be no press coverage of the meeting.”
In his acceptance speech on election night, Obama congratulated Romney on his campaign, and said he was looking forward “to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.”
And at his first post-election press conference, held November 14, Obama said his goal was to set a meeting before the end of the year.
“There are certain aspects of Governor Romney’s record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful,” he said, specifically citing Romney’s leadership of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
Romney has mostly stayed out of the spotlight since his Election Night remarks in Boston. He was spotted taking in the latest installment of the “Twilight” movie franchise with his family, and on Thanksgiving shared a photo with his wife Ann on his official Facebook page.
However, controversial comments he made on a post-election call with top donors were immediately criticized by both Democrats and Republicans.
“What the president, president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,” Romney said on the call.
Romney, who lost to Obama by 126 electoral votes, said the president courted voters by offering policies – some of them this election year – that appealed to key constituencies.
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Romney said.
Those remarks caused Republicans — including several who are considered likely candidates for the 2016 GOP nomination — to put distance between themselves and their party’s former standard bearer.
While in Washington, Romney will also meet with his former running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a senior adviser to the former GOP nominee told CNN Wednesday.
In 2008, Obama met with Sen. John McCain after defeating him in the presidential election. The pair met at Obama’s transition headquarters in Chicago, and issued a joint statement afterwards saying they hoped to work together on challenges such as the financial crisis, creating a new energy economy and protecting the country’s security.
CNN’s Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.