BOSTON (AP) – Mitt Romney has been a virtual ghost since his Election Day defeat.

He’s been in seclusion in Southern California for most of the time since Nov. 6. He surfaced only for a private lunch with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday.

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Romney’s abrupt withdrawal from politics is creating a leadership vacuum within the GOP. It’s left the party rudderless and in disarray during what may be the most important policy debate in a generation.

There’s no shortage of Republicans maneuvering to fill the void, from House Speaker John Boehner to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

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GOP officials say the leadership void is par for the course after losing a presidential contest, and that it won’t last long.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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