WASHINGTON -- Three weeks after the election, Mitt Romney made it to the White House.

For about 90 minutes. After an odd arrival in which a man rushed his SUV and ended up getting arrested by the Secret Service.

It wasn't the start of a term as Romney had envisioned. But it was, at least, all on good terms with the man who defeated him, President Barack Obama.

Over a private lunch on Thursday, Obama and Romney had some white turkey chili, Southwestern grilled chicken salad and – from the reports of it – the kind of actual conversation that never happens while two presidential nominees are bashing each other's ideas during a campaign.

They shook hands in the Oval Office. They spoke of American leadership in the world. They pledged to keep in touch. Maybe even work together.

All that, at least, according to a White House statement about what happened behind closed doors. The two men themselves never faced reporters.

"Each man wanted to have a private conversation," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. "They didn't want to turn it into a press event."

Much has happened already in American politics since the Nov. 6 election, when voters ended a fierce presidential race by choosing Obama in convincing fashion. Romney is among those who have opined on why he lost, telling donors Obama won by giving "gifts" to groups like Latinos, blacks and young voters.

Carney said that comment, widely panned as disparaging by leaders of both parties, did not hang over the postelection meeting of the two men.

The spokesman underscored Obama's interest in listening to Romney's ideas.

Obama presumably did so without accusing his former rival of having "Romnesia" about his own positions, as the president had once charged with a wicked smile.

Long gone too, it seemed, was Romney's accusation over the summer that Obama was running a "campaign of division and anger and hate."

"Gov. Romney congratulated the president for the success of his campaign and wished him well over the coming four years," the White House statement said.

And this: "They pledged to stay in touch, particularly if opportunities to work together on shared interests arise."

Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom agreed that it was a "very friendly lunch" between two men who spoke about the big challenges facing the nation.

Still, Romney did not get the warmest of welcomes coming into the White House gates.

The Secret Service said a man interfered with his vehicle as it arrived at a secure checkpoint near the White House. The man was later interviewed by an officer and became combative, the Secret Service said. He was charged with assault on a police officer and unlawful entry.

As for the meeting that followed, aides familiar with both sides said it amounted to political symbolism and a promise kept but that it had no substantive or specific agenda. Obama had told the watching world on election night that he would sit down with Romney in the weeks ahead.

That they did, in the dining room just off the Oval Office.

As much as the bitter campaign consumed 2012, it faded remarkably quickly. Obama is in a fiscal fight with Congress, with the economy at stake.

Romney has largely disappeared from the public eye.

Republican officials said they had little expectation the meeting would produce any meaningful results. They said that while Romney was the face of the GOP for much of the year, he did not command enough following among the party's passionate voters or chattering class to maintain a leadership role going forward.

The same is not true of Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who also met privately with Romney in Washington on Thursday.

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Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Philip Elliott, Julie Pace and Steve Peoples contributed to this report.

___

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • President Barack Obama and wife Michelle hold hands with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill following Obama's victory speech to supporters in Chicago early Wednesday, Nov. 7 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Barack Obama

    Jill Biden watches as Vice President Joe Biden is hugged by first lady Michelle Obama at President Barack Obama's election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama

    President Barack Obama, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha arrive at the election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama looks at his daughter Sasha as he walks with his wife Michelle and daughter Malia at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama

    President Barack Obama, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha arrive at the election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Confetti covers the stage after President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/=2121300183=)

  • Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Jill Biden Joe Biden

    President Barack Obama with First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden celebrate on stage at the election night party at McCormick Place, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama celebrates with First Lady Michelle Obama on stage on election night in Chicago on November 6, 2012. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama celebrates after delivering his acceptance speech ion Chicago on November 7, 2012. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    Confetti rains on the stage as US President Barack Obama celebrates his victory in the presidential election in Chicago on November 7, 2012. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle wave to supporters following his election victory in Chicago, Illinois on November 6, 2012. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US First Lady Michelle Obama hugs President Barack Obama on stage following his election victory in Chicago, Illinois on November 6, 2012. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama waves to supporters following his victory speech on election night in Chicago, Illinois on November 6, 2012. Obama swept to re-election, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama smiles as First Lady Michelle Obama gives the thumbs-up following Obama's speech on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    (L-R) US First Lady Michelle Obama, US President Barack Obama, US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden celebrate on election night November 7, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama and Biden won re-election to a second 4-year term. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    (L-R) US First Lady Michelle Obama, US President Barack Obama, US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden celebrate on election night November 7, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama and Biden won re-election to a second 4-year term. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama (2nd L), First Lady Michelle Obama (L), Vice-President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden wave to supporters following Obama's speech on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama waves to supporters on election night November 7, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has conceded the race to Obama. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama flanked by First Lady Michelle Obama (L) and Vice-President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden wave to supporters following Obama's speech on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama (2nd L), First Lady Michelle Obama (L), Vice-President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden wave to supporters following Obama's speech on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama waves to supporters beside US First Lady Michelle Obama after winning the 2012 US presidential election November 7, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama swept to a emphatic re-election win over Mitt Romney, forging new history by transcending a dragging economy and the stifling unemployment which haunted his first term. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

    US President Barack Obama (2nd L), First Lady Michelle Obama (L), Vice-President Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden wave to supporters following Obama's speech on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama hugs his family at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama acknowledges the crowd at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama kisses his wife Michelle as he walks out to the stage at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama addresses the crowd at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama kisses his wife Michelle as he walks out to the stage with his daughters Malia and Sasha at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama, Malia Obama

    President Barack Obama waves as he walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama smiles during his speech at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Michelle Obama

    First lady Michelle Obama walks off the stage with her daughters Malia and Sasha before President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama waves to his supporters at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama waves at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama speaks at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama acknowledges the crowd at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama waves to his supporters at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama walks out of the stage with his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Jon Tester Max Baucus

    President Barack Obama hugs his wife Michelle and daughter Sasha as daughter Malia, left, looks on before speaking at his election night party, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden acknowledge the crowd at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden wave at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • President Barack Obama, right, applauds his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia as they leave the stage before speaking at his election night party, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama hugs his daugher Sasha after his speech as his wife Michelle and daughter Malia gather on stage at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama smiles at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Barack Obama, Joe Biden

    President Barack Obama hugs Vice President Joe Biden after his speech at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Barack Obama, Joe Biden

    President Barack Obama hugs Vice President Joe Biden as his daughter Malia and Sasha look on at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Barack Obama

    President Barack Obama waves to the crowd of supporters at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Joe Biden, Barack Obama

    Vice President Joe Biden greets President Barack Obama's daughters Malia and Sasha after President's speech at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • President Barack Obama waves after delivering his victory speech to supporters gathered in Chicago early Wednesday Nov. 7 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

  • Vice President Joe Biden holds on to President Barack Obama after delivering his victory speech to supporters gathered in Chicago early Wednesday Nov. 7 2012. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)