Correction to This Article
The article incorrectly said that co-author Anne E. Kornblut reported from New York. She reported from Washington.

Bill Clinton Joins Obama for Lunch in New York

Bill Clinton and President Obama leave Il Mulino in Greenwich Village after the Democratic chief executives had lunch.
Bill Clinton and President Obama leave Il Mulino in Greenwich Village after the Democratic chief executives had lunch. (By Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press)
By Garance Franke-Ruta and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

After President Obama delivered a speech to New York City's financial sector Monday, he headed to Greenwich Village to grab lunch. His tablemate: Bill Clinton.

Earlier this year, the former president said he had been in touch with the current chief executive only occasionally -- their relationship had been frosty and at times contentious as Obama battled Hillary Rodham Clinton during the primaries. But now they are seeing each other on an almost regular basis.

Obama saw Clinton just last week, at Walter Cronkite's memorial service, and he will see his Democratic predecessor again next week, when Obama addresses the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 22, an appearance the White House announced Monday.

Clinton also visited the White House several weeks ago to report to Obama on his mission to North Korea, after bringing home two American journalists. The lunch -- originally scheduled for the day of the Cronkite memorial -- was a result of planning that began then.

The two have "a very strong relationship," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One on the return trip from New York, adding that as "very few people" know what it's like to be president, "President Obama values the type of advice that President Clinton has."

The two sat down for an 90-minute meal at Il Mulino in the Village, a well-regarded Italian restaurant with a focus on dishes from the Abruzzi region. As Obama and Clinton exited the restaurant before photographers, a reporter asked how the lunch was. Only Clinton replied, saying: "It was good. It was Il Mulino, how could it not be?"

"We had fish, pasta and salad," Clinton said. "It was very healthy. Even I was healthy."

Gibbs said that he thought the two "split the bill," and that the two dined alone and spoke about the economy, health care and other issues.

Franke-Ruta reported from Washington, Kornblut from New York.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company