JASON REED/Reuters Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama talk at the conclusion of the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, in this Oct. 22 file photo. Obama will host Romney for a private lunch at the White House on Nov. 29, their first meeting since Obama defeated him in this month’s presidential election.
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.
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.