With a swanky dinner Wednesday night for Republican senators at a local Washington hotel and a White House lunch for the top budget writers in the House Thursday, President Obama is getting back to the food-based political outreach he employed frequently in his first term.
While first lady Michelle Obama has made healthy eating one of her signature issues, Mr. Obama’s gustatory outreach has not always featured a high-nutrition centerpiece. The menus for this week’s off-the-record dinners have not been released by the White House, according to the blog “Obama Foodarama,” which obsessively tracks the first family’s eating habits, official menus and dining-out choices.
But Mr. Obama’s food-related summits have featured beer, burgers, turkey chili and even Slurpees as the main course.
The First Foodie’s past outreach efforts include:
• the July 2009 “beer summit,” when Mr. Obama sipped Bud Light and munched peanuts with Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley and Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates after their celebrated confrontation sparked a national conversation on race and policing.
• the June 2010 “burger summit” in which Mr. Obama hosted visiting Russian President Dmitry Medevev at Arlington, Va.’s Ray’s Hell Burger restaurant. The two ordered cheddar cheeseburgers (Mr. Medevedev’s with jalapenos) and split an order of fries.
• the abortive November 2010 “Slurpee summit” with congressional leaders after Republicans scored huge gains in the midterm elections. The meeting came off, but the Slurpees were not served. Mr. Obama during the campaign had suggested GOP leaders were sipping on the 7-11 specialty while he and fellow Democrats were trying to revive the economy.
• the November 2012 private lunch Mr. Obama had at the White House with defeated GOP rival Mitt Romney. The two shared a lunch of white turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad.
And sometimes a White House dinner invitation is not enough to break the partisan ice. According to the National Journal, GOP House Speaker John Boehner has begged out on invitations to six state dinners during Mr. Obama’s first term — with leaders of Britain, South Korea, Germany, China, Mexico and India.