WASHINGTON (USA Today) -- GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney met with President Obama at the White House on Thursday for a one-on-one lunch.
Romney stepped out of the passenger side of a dark SUV and into the West Wing at 12:29 p.m. After a lunch that included white turkey chili and a Southwest chicken salad, Romney departed about 70 minutes later.
Romney congratulated Obama and wished him well in his second term, according to a White House read-out of the lunch.
"The focus of their discussion was on America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future," the White House said in a statement. "They pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise in the future."
White House spokesman Jay Carney declined appeals from reporters to open the Obama-Romney lunch to the media for photos and video as is commonly done for the president's high-profile meetings.
"Each man wanted to have a private conversation," Carney said. "They did not want to turn it into a press event."
Obama met with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., after beating him in the 2008 presidential election. Reporters were allowed to take photographs of the two leaders meeting.
Obama and Romney spoke on Election Night, and Obama praised him in his victory speech and in a post-election news conference.
"We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply, and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service, and that is a legacy that we honor and applaud tonight," Obama told supporters at his victory party in Chicago. "In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward."
Though Romney has mostly kept a low-profile since losing the election, the former Massachusetts governor told donors after his loss that the president was re-elected because of "gifts" to Latinos, African Americans and young voters.
But Carney suggested there are no hard feelings.
"Campaigns are a tough business, the debates were sharp and in this case they were very substantive and important," Carney said.