But in an hour and a half of closed-door discussions Thursday with campaign aides in Boston and on the trail in Springfield, Mo., Ryan couldn’t help but focus in on one of his favorite topics: the federal budget.
In this case, it was a new Congressional Budget Office report released this week regarding the looming fiscal cliff.
“I wanted to get into the CBO baseline; that’s kind of the thing I like to look into — and a new deep dive on the energy stuff,” Ryan told reporters Thursday night in his second impromptu visit to the back of his campaign plane this week.
The “energy stuff” was a reference to a newly unveiled proposal by his running mate, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who focused on energy at a campaign event in New Mexico on Thursday.
Ryan — the architect of the House GOP budget blueprint and a seven-term lawmaker known for delivering detailed PowerPoint presentations at town halls in his Janesville, Wis.-based district — has largely steered clear of talking about the specifics of budget reform on the White House trail for fear of confounding voters with talk of Washington’s Byzantine budget process.
But that doesn’t mean Ryan has entirely managed to avoid delving into budgetary minutiae during his brief tenure as vice-presidential nominee. At a campaign stop at a Raleigh sheet metal company on Wednesday, he let slip a mention of “FICA” — the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.
And at a northeast Ohio hot dog restaurant last week, he fielded a Medicare question from a reporter by bringing up the “B” word — “baseline,” a bit of Washington-ese that Ryan at the time acknowledged is “a little bit wonky.”
Ryan’s unannounced trip to the back of his campaign plane Thursday night came as the presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee has yet to formally take questions from his traveling press corps in his nearly two weeks on the trail.
At each campaign stop, Ryan has sat down for multiple local television interviews and has done national TV sit-downs with Fox News Channel and CNBC.
On Thursday afternoon, at a defense roundtable in Fayetteville, N.C., it briefly appeared that Ryan might take questions from reporters before a campaign aide quickly tamped down on the idea.
Ryan instead has thus far sought to woo his traveling press corps through more informal means, making friendly conversation on his campaign plane and taking questions for only a few minutes before retreating to his seat.
On Wednesday, he brought reporters a tray full of cookies and fielded several questions on the Todd Akin controversy.