WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton has walked the halls of the White House as a first lady, a senator and a secretary of state. On Monday, she returned as a former diplomat who might just want one more job.
Clinton was back at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for a private lunch with President Obama, a meeting that the White House said was closed to the press.
The two former rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination were originally supposed to break bread in the president’s private dining room off the Oval Office. Instead they ate outside during a rare, pleasant summertime afternoon in Washington.
The White House said the kitchen provided Obama and his first secretary of state grilled chicken, some pasta jambalaya and salad.
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“It’s largely friendship that’s on the agenda for the lunch today,” said Josh Earnest, the deputy press secretary. “So it’s not a working lunch as much as it is an opportunity for the two who saw each other on a pretty frequent basis over the course of the last four years to get a chance to catch up.”
Given Clinton’s last job and the turmoil around the world, it seemed likely that the two would talk about Egypt, the emerging peace talks in the Middle East and the diplomatic battle over Edward Snowden, the fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor.
It was also likely the two would talk politics as well and whether Clinton will run for president again in 2016. After the lunch, neither side would confirm details about the discussion.
Aides close to Clinton said she and Obama saw each other in Dallas this year for the opening of former President George W. Bush’s presidential library. The two discussed getting together then and settled on Monday for lunch.
Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman, said the former secretary of state would defer to the White House for any comment about the meeting.
Clinton has kept up a hectic schedule of speeches and public appearances that has provided further fodder to those urging her to run again. A super PAC seeking to create a campaign-in-waiting in case she runs, Ready for Hillary, recently picked up support from some of Obama’s most prominent former campaign organizers.
Still, it’s unclear how tough it would be for Clinton to build the campaign machinery that powered Obama to the presidency twice.
“In Democratic circles, it makes people fantasize and engage in all kinds of speculation, when in fact it may just be a tete-a-tete between the leader of the free world and the most important person in the Democratic Party,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a strategist who worked on President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election.
There was no word on whether Vice President Joe Biden, who has also signaled his interest in a run for president in 2016, stopped by for dessert. He has, however, invited Clinton to his residence for breakfast Tuesday.
CNN Films said Monday it plans a feature-length film of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life to premiere next year.
Last weekend, NBC announced the four-hour miniseries “Hillary” starring Diane Lane. NBC says the miniseries will track Clinton’s life and career from 1998 to the present.
Includes material from The Associated Press