When is a lunch more than just a midday meal? When the two diners are President Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and inquiring minds want to know who, if anyone, the president will endorse in 2016.
A summertime meal shared by Obama and his rival-turned-ally threw the political speculation machine into overdrive Monday, highlighting how closely both are being watched for signs of their intentions in the next presidential race.
For Clinton, it’s a question of whether the former first lady will take the plunge, launching another campaign eight years after she lost to Obama in a hard-fought primary. For Obama, it’s about dueling loyalties to two of his closest advisers who would both covet his endorsement: Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, who also is said to be eyeing the Oval Office.
Such questions set the table for a midday powwow over salad, grilled chicken and pasta jambalaya whipped up by the White House chef and served al fresco on the patio just outside the Oval Office.
Will Clinton tip her hand? Will Obama offer his support? Or will the two dive deep into current events — bloodshed in Egypt, for instance, or a budding new round of Mideast peace talks that eluded Clinton as secretary of state?
In all likelihood, none of the above.
“The purpose of the lunch was chiefly social,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.