Talk about a power lunch.
President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Monday for a private lunch that immediately sparked speculation about what it means for the 2016 presidential race.
The visit marked at least the second time the two have met privately since Clinton left the State Department earlier this year. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, met with Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for a private White House dinner in March.
There was no official agenda for the lunch — the two dined over grilled chicken, pasta jambalaya and salad simply “to catch up,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who noted that the president invited Clinton to lunch.
“Secretary Clinton and the president have developed not just a strong working relationship but also a genuine friendship,” Earnest says, “so it’s more friendship that’s on the agenda for lunch today.”
While the long and complicated arc of their relationship (remember “Shame on you, Barack Obama” and “You’re likeable enough, Hillary“?) sparked widespread media interest in Monday’s meeting, the political implications of the get-together were front and center.
Clinton is positioned as the 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner — in the event she runs — but Vice President Joe Biden is also thought to be considering a bid. Over the next three years the president will be closely scrutinized for signs of which Democrat he will back as his successor.
Biden and Clinton will have a breakfast meeting Tuesday at the Naval Observatory.
While the wounds from their 2008 presidential primary may have healed — they addressed their evolution from bitter rivals to collaborators in a ’60 Minutes’ joint interview on January 27 — in the years since then, Obama and Bill Clinton have sometimes found themselves on opposing sides in Democratic primary races where Clinton endorsed candidates who backed his wife’s presidential bid.