Obama Lunches with Bill Clinton
Updated 3:51 p.m.
By Garance Franke-Ruta and Anne E. Kornblut
President Obama traveled to New York for a speech to the financial sector today, followed by a lunch with former president Bill Clinton. The two sat down for an hour-and-a-half meal at Il Mulino in Greenwich Village, a well-regarded Italian restaurant with a focus on dishes from the Abruzzi region.
Obama just saw Clinton at last week's memorial service for Walter Cronkite and will see his Democratic predecessor again next week, when Obama addresses the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on September 22, an appearance the White House announced today.
Is a thaw underway? It appears the answer may be yes. Earlier this year, the former president said he had only been in touch with the current president occasionally -- following their frosty, and at times contentious, relationship during the primaries. But now they are seeing each other on an almost regular basis.
The two have "a very strong relationship," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force one on the return trip from New York, adding that as "very few people" know what it's like to be president, "President Obama values the type of advice that President Clinton has."
Clinton also visited the White House several weeks ago to give Obama a report on his mission to North Korea, after bringing home two American journalists. The lunch -- originally scheduled for the day of the Cronkite memorial -- was a result of planning that began then.
As Obama and Clinton exited the restaurant for 15 seconds before photographers, a reporter asked how the lunch was. Only Clinton replied, saying: "It was good. It was Il Mulino, how could it not be?"
"We had fish, pasta and salad," Clinton said. "It was very healthy. Even I was healthy."
Gibbs said he thought the two "split the bill," and that the two dined alone and spoke about the economy, health care and other issues.
Posted at 11:22 AM ET on Sep 14, 2009
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