WASHINGTON – Three weeks after the election, Mitt Romney made it to the White House.
For about 90 minutes. After an odd arrival in which a man rushed his SUV and ended up getting arrested by the Secret Service.
It wasn’t the start of a term as Romney had envisioned. But it was, at least, all on good terms with the man who defeated him, President Obama.
Over a private lunch Thursday, Obama and Romney had some white turkey chili, Southwestern grilled chicken salad and – from the reports of it – the kind of actual conversation that never happens while two presidential nominees are bashing each other’s ideas during a campaign.
They shook hands in the Oval Office. They spoke of American leadership in the world. They pledged to keep in touch. Maybe even work together.
All that, at least, according to a White House statement about what happened behind closed doors. The two men themselves never faced reporters.
Each man wanted to have a private conversation, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. They didn’t want to turn it into a press event.
Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom agreed that it was a very friendly lunch between two men who spoke about the big challenges facing the nation.
Still, Romney did not get the warmest of welcomes coming into the White House gates.
The Secret Service said a man interfered with his vehicle as it arrived at a secure checkpoint near the White House. The man was later interviewed by an officer and became combative, the Secret Service said. He was charged with assault on a police officer and unlawful entry.