Obama hosts Hillary Clinton for lunch — 'friendship' on the menu

Olivier Knox
Yahoo News
Obama lunch with Clinton at White House
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President Barack Obama has lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the patio outside the Oval Office, July 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama hosted Hillary Clinton for lunch on Monday, treating his former secretary of state to grilled chicken, pasta jambalaya and salad, amid speculation that her possible 2016 White House run could also be on the menu.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the purpose of the lunch was "chiefly social" and emphasized that the two seasoned political players have a "genuine friendship" and just wanted to "catch up."

"It's largely friendship that's on the agenda today, it's not a working lunch," said the spokesman, who denied that Obama was already looking at possible successors.

"In terms of whether or not he’ll weigh in on 2016, I think [it's] far too early to tell," Earnest said. "I’m sure there will be plenty of people, probably even you, who will ask him about that. But I’m not going to commit him one way or the other at this point."

Clinton is scheduled to have breakfast Tuesday with Vice President Joe Biden at his official residence on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, a Biden aide said. Biden is widely seen as one of Clinton's potential rivals in 2016.

Clinton's successor at the State Department, former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, was seen entering the White House a little after she did. But "the table is being set for two," Earnest said. Kerry was to meet later with Obama.

Clinton and Obama were expected to discuss the newly relaunched Middle East peace talks, the spokesman said.

Obama’s press office had announced the luncheon meeting, but there was no media access. Instead, the White House released a picture snapped by an official photographer.

An embarrassing scandal involving top Clinton aide Huma Abedin may be another reason the former secretary of state wasn't planning to speak to reporters. Abedin is married to Anthony Weiner, who is refusing to quit the New York City mayor's race even after acknowledging he had continued the sexting behavior that forced him out of Congress in 2011.

Even barely past the halfway mark in 2013, “Hillary 2016” rumors have swirled around Washington — notably because of the possibility that this could pit her against  Biden.

“I can die a happy man never having been president of the United States of America,” Biden recently told GQ. “But it doesn’t mean I won’t run.”

The magazine described Biden as being “a Hillary Clinton away from the White House.” That’s a nod to the loose inside-the-Beltway consensus that he won’t run in 2016 if she does.

Hillary stepped down as America’s top diplomat Feb. 1 after serving out Obama’s entire first term. She has been giving speeches around the country, some of them handsomely paid, others for free.

Rumors that she might be looking to make Bill Clinton the first husband have stoked partisan political passions. There is a “Ready For Hillary PAC” encouraging her to run and a “Stop Hillary PAC” that, well, the name is a bit of a clue.

CNN announced Tuesday it had hired Oscar winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson to direct a documentary on Clinton, to debut in 2014.

And NBC has decided to produce a four-hour miniseries based on Hillary Clinton's life from 1998 onward, starring Diane Lane in the lead role. That would likely start the story arc with the country in the grips of the scandal over Bill Clinton's affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. It would then carry through her successful Senate race in New York, her defeat at Obama's hands in the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, and finally her time as secretary of state.

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