From ABC News’ Arlette Saenz and Shushannah Walshe:
PARK CITY, Utah — Sen. Rob Portman’s status as a “special guest” at the posh donor retreat hosted by Mitt Romney’s campaign for his top contributors this evening isn’t going to do anything to quiet all the vice presidential talk about him, but the Ohio Republican answered questions about the veepstakes with just a chuckle.
ABC News caught up with Portman outside the retreat as he crossed the street from the Chateaux at Silver Lake to attend a private dinner at the Golden Hirsch Inn, where he was a “special guest” for donors. Portman said he had just arrived for the latter portion of day two of the retreat.
A staffer with Portman initially told ABC News, “Sorry guys,” as an indication that the senator would not be doing interviews, but Portman seemed eager to talk, even after staff tried to usher him in the opposite direction from the cameras.
Portman continued talking with ABC News as he walked along the sidewalk to the restaurant. The Ohio senator called former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s evening speech “scintillating. It was great as always.” He said Bush delivered a “very positive message about the importance of this election and about Governor Romney. He was terrific.”
Before jetting over to Utah today, Portman, an avid kayaker, participated in the annual Ohio River Paddlefest, a Cincinnati tradition for kayakers and canoers along the Ohio River. Portman said the event was “great” and said his group won their division.
But though he showed off his kayaking talents in Ohio, Portman said he’d stay off the golf course in Utah, where some Romney donors plan to spend Sunday afternoon.
“I’m not a very good golfer,” Portman admitted.
Portman is considered one of the top contenders for Romney to pick as a running mate, and he joined a number of other possible VPs such as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, at the donor confab here.
Asked if there was any VP talk while he was at the retreat today, Portman responded, “Nah.”
But as he walked away about to enter the dinner, ABC News asked whether he enjoys the vice presidential talk or if he finds the constant questions annoying.
Without uttering any words, Portman waited a few seconds before turning around as he walked, shrugged his shoulders, lifted his arms and emitted a few chuckles.