WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and his vanquished Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, sat down for lunch at the White House on Thursday as they sought to put their bitterly fought presidential campaign behind them and make a show of political harmony.

The two men chewed over the just-ended campaign during a meal of turkey chili and Southwestern grilled chicken salad in the dining room adjacent to the Oval Office. The visit was kept low key as Romney was brought in through a heavily guarded side entryway for a private one-on-one encounter.

News photographers were not allowed in for pictures. An official White House photo showed the two men standing in the Oval Office, shaking hands cordially in front of the presidential desk.

The lunch, which lasted a little more than an hour, appeared to be little more than a goodwill gesture aimed at salving wounds left open from a bitter campaign, including three contentious debates.