In October, 59.2 million Americans watched Barack Obama and Mitt Romney angrily circle each other in a bitter and confrontational town hall debate. No on could have predicted that the two men would be having lunch together this Thursday after that performance. Yet here we are.
White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed today that the former Massachusetts governor accepted his rival’s invitation to lunch at the White House. For two men who couldn’t see eye to eye on anything during the depressingly divisive 2012 campaign, this is obviously an unexpected announcement. In my mind it shows a surprising amount of maturity from both sides, each of which ran millions of dollars in negative attack ads about the other for over two years.
While both candidates promised to work across the aisle should they be elected, no one really believed in that possibility. The toxicity in the media environment and the vitriol from both campaigns precluded that possibility.
That’s precisely why I was presently surprised to learn that Gov. Romney will be having lunch with the President on Thursday. Call it a “man date.”
Here’s what Politico had to say:
Obama and Romney haven’t been in the same room since the third presidential debate on Oct. 22, and haven’t spoken since Romney’s concession call on election night. In his victory speech after the call, Obama promised to reach out to his former rival to see how they can work together.
Obama and Romney — who fought a bitter and sometimes personal campaign – do not have much of a personal relationship. Sources close to the president told POLITICO in August that Obama had developed a personal dislike of Romney over the course of primary campaign — something that the White House denied.
Wondering what the two ex-foes would talk about for about an hour or so is a fun thought-game to play. It’s hard to imagine them talking about policy, sports, current events, or basically anything else, considering their vastly different biographies and persuasions. But if two fierce competitors and sworn political opponents can sit down for lunch for an hour and not get into a shouting match… well, maybe bipartisanship isn’t dead after all.