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Few calls -- and meetings -- between presidential candidates

President Barack Obama didn’t have too much to say about his personal relationship with Mitt Romney when Jimmy Fallon asked him about it in April.

“I’ve met him, but we’re not friends,” he told the late night talk show host.

That seems clear enough. Before their conversation today, during which Obama congratulated Romney for clinching the Republican nomination, neither seems to have called the other in at least three years.


The last time either publicly mentioned a phone call to the other was in January 2009 when Romney, then a former 2008 candidate, told CNN that president-elect Obama phoned his home shortly after Romney’s wife Ann had been diagnosed with breast cancer earlier that month.

“He was kind enough to call our home when my wife was ill, and he said that he and Michelle had my wife in their prayers, and I said, Mr. President-elect, Ann and I have you in our prayers. And we do,” Romney said during a “Late Edition” interview on Jan. 4, 2009.

But the two don’t keep each other’s numbers on speed dial.

Reports indicate that before the 2009 phone call, Romney and Obama publicly interacted during a break between ABC’s back-to-back Republican and Democratic debates in Manchester, New Hampshire on Jan. 5, 2008.

As the Republican debate concluded, moderator Charlie Gibson invited the Democratic candidates to join their GOP counterparts onstage for a moment of bipartisan unity.

“Since tonight is unique, and since we have candidates of both parties here, I want to ask all of them to share the stage for a moment, just greet one another, as evidence that in one year, we will all come together to support our new president, someone who will be on this stage,” Gibson said.

He beckoned then-contenders Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Obama to join the Republican hopefuls: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson and Romney.

It wasn’t only in controlled, air-conditioned settings that Obama and Romney met each other, albeit passingly, on the last campaign trail.

There just weren’t enough Labor Day parades for the two of them in September 2007, when they both marched in the small town of Milford, N.H.

A Los Angeles Times reporter on the scene described the meeting between the two “tall, slim, implausibly handsome” candidates: “The two converged in a manly embrace -- Mitt Romney, former Republican governor of Massachusetts, and Barack Obama, Democrat senator from Illinois, both chasing the presidency, both surrounded by the Milford High School fife-and-drum corps.”

And years before they were pounding pavement all over the state, Romney and Obama both gave some not-so-subtle hints about their presidential aspirations at the 2004 Gridiron Club dinner, where they were part of the evening’s entertainment.

Obama joked about his sudden fame after giving the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

“It's like I was shot out of a cannon. I am so overexposed, I make Paris Hilton look like a recluse,” he said.  

And Romney made Obama’s stardom one of his punch lines. 

“I believe Barack when he says he doesn't seek the limelight. After all, he said it on CNN, MSNBC, 'Dateline,' '20/20,' 'Good Morning America,' and 'Meet the Press,” Romney teased.

Given their timeline of phone calls, maybe they’ll reminisce about that night at the Gridiron in another four - or eight – years.