Power Lunch

Past, present and future Presidents meet for lunch at the White House

January 07, 2009

A historic gathering took place Wednesday at the White House in Washington, D.C. Lunch was served! No big deal about that, but the guests were a big deal. Every living U.S. President was there, along with President-elect Barack Obama. The last time all living Presidents gathered at the White House was in 1981.

The idea for the lunch of Presidents began with the newest member of the club, Barack Obama. Obama will take office as the nation's 44th leader on January 20. When Obama met with President Bush in November, the future President suggested the idea. President Bush liked it and invited Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton for the get-together.

The five men share something only they can claim: They were elected to the nation's highest office. That bond makes them members of a very small and special club. President-elect Barack Obama described the Presidents' lunch today as "an extraordinary gathering."

A Meeting of Minds

Before lunch, Barack Obama and President George W. Bush met privately in the Oval Office. They then joined the others in a dining room next to the President's office.

What did the five men talk about? No one outside of the room knows for sure. "All of us would love to be flies on the wall and listening to that conversation," said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. "These are leaders who only understand what it's like to be in each others' shoes and none of us can put ourselves in those shoes," noted Perino. The press secretary thought that the men talked about what it's like to live in the White House and about raising children there. Perino also said that they probably discussed serious problems with the U.S. economy and the recent events in the Middle East.

Besides all the talking, the Presidents found time to eat. What was on the menu? Perhaps presidential club sandwiches!

The Guest List

Here's a look at the guest list at today's White House presidential lunch, the political party each belongs to, and when they served as President.

Jimmy Carter, Democrat, 39th President, 1977-1981
George H.W. Bush, Republican, 41st President, 1989-1993
William J. Clinton, Democrat, 42nd President, 1993-2001
George W. Bush, Republican, 43rd President, 2001-2009
Barack Obama, Democrat, 44th President, 2009

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