Mitt Romney, president set for lunch Thursday

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will host his former political rival Mitt Romney for a private lunch at the White House on Thursday, their first meeting since the election.

Obama promised in his victory speech earlier this month to engage with Romney following their bitter campaign and consider the Republican's ideas.

The sit-down is likely to be their most extensive private meeting ever. The two men had only a handful of brief exchanges before the election.

Romney has virtually disappeared from politics following his loss. He's spent the past three weeks largely in seclusion at his family's Southern California home. He has made no public appearances, drawing media attention only after being photographed at Disneyland, in addition to stops at the movies and the gym with his wife, Ann.

Obama aides said they reached out to Romney's team shortly before Thanksgiving to start working on a date for the meeting. The two men will meet in the White House's private dining room, with no media coverage expected.

In the days after his loss, Romney told top donors that the president was re-elected because of the "gifts" Obama provided to blacks, Hispanics and young voters, all of which are core Obama constituencies. "The president's campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift," Romney said.

Many Republican officials, eager to move on quickly after the loss, disputed Romney's comments and urged the party to focus on being more inclusive.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was looking forward to having a "useful discussion" with Romney. He said there was no formal agenda for the lunch.

While in Washington, Romney will also meet with his former running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), according to a Romney campaign aide.

Former aides confirm that Romney is expected to move into an office at the Boston-area venture capital firm Solamere Capital. The firm was founded by his oldest son, Tagg Romney, and Spencer Zwick, who served as his presidential campaign's national finance chairman.

It's unclear what role, if any, Romney will play at the firm. Former aides said Romney was subletting office space from Solamere.

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