TROY, Mich. - You only have a few minutes with the man who wants to be vice president of the United States. One way to get some answers? Play word association.
In a Roanoke, Va., interview that aired Thursday night, a reporter began by asking the House budget chairman about asparagus and cake, likely because of Ryan's commitment to fitness and healthy eating.
"Having a piece of cake is just like having asparagus, as far as I'm concerned, so I'm, well, eat the asparagus then," Ryan told reporter Orlando Salinas of CBS affiliate WDBJ-TV.
Then it was word association.
"Chick-fil-A?" Salinas said.
"Good chicken, good chicken, free people exercising their free speech rights," Ryan answered, with a smile.
"Transparency as a politician?" was the next one.
"Fire Barack Obama and hire Mitt Romney," Ryan, dressed in a blue polo shirt and khakis, answered.
Then the brief interview, which began by highlighting a young engineer's testing the light and sound for the congressman, got a bit more interesting.
"Barack Obama," Salinas said.
"He said he would be one thing, and he's a completely different politician than we thought he would be in 2008," Ryan said. "Hope and change has become attack and blame. He can't run on his record, so he's going to try and distort and distract this country to win by default."
"The hardest you have ever had to do in your personal life as a man, as a father," was the next question.
"The hardest things are sometimes the best things. The hardest things are balancing your life, keeping your faith, keeping your family healthy and strong," Ryan, 42, answered.
Ryan said it was going to be a "close, close race, probably down to the wire," before Salinas asked him a final question about whether he prays.
"By doing that, that keeps you focused, that keeps you anchored, that makes sure you are conducting yourself in a way that you want to," Ryan answered before getting up.
The interview concluded with Salinas' saying that, as a reporter, he's a "straight shooter" and didn't want any "gotcha" questions.
"I've never really done anything like that before. That was interesting," Ryan said, as the shot widened to show aides and Ryan removing his microphone.
Later in the evening on his campaign plane , he laughed with reporters about the interview.
"I really like asparagus. Part of it is how much I like asparagus and how much I don't like cake," he said. "I don't eat cake."