ABC NEWS’ Shushannah Walshe and John Parkinson report:
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan told olleagues at the House GOP Conference Thursday morning not to get distracted from the party’s efforts to defeat Democrats this fall. But he did not specifically mentioned leaked videos of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser that have plagued the GOP presidential campaign this week.
According to Republicans leaving the meeting, Ryan did not bring up the videos, but told his colleagues not to get distracted by daily polls.
“He just said they have a plan laid out and they are following the plan and they are going to do things they need to do and not to get distracted or discouraged by what happens on the everyday stuff,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Ida., said, recalling what Ryan said at the private meeting at the Capitol Hill Club near the Capitol. “Just keep your head down and look ahead and look what’s happening and say we still have a very tight race and we are going to be able to win this.”
The videos released over the last few days have dominated the news cycle and show Mitt Romney at a $50,000 per person Boca Raton, Fla. fundraiser chastising the president’s supporters as people who pay no income taxes and see themselves as “victims” dependent on government.
Leaving the meeting, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., said Ryan’s message was one of focus, and that Republicans should “keep on the offensive keep on the fight because we are on the right side of the issue.”
Rep. Peter Roskam, R- Ill., even described the message as “pretty funny” at times.
“He said basically the Obama campaign has a strategy that says, ‘Hey there’s a squirrel!’ And it’s basically distract and look at the other things, but when it comes down to it this is a choice of two futures, but it’s a choice of two futures based on the performance of a president that has underperformed and disappointed and turned off independent voters largely based on a bad economy and bad economic decisions,” Roskam said, describing the mood as “buoyant.”
Ryan wasn’t the only special guest at the meeting. Actor Kevin Sorbo, famous for playing Hercules on TV, also attended. According to a House GOP aide, Sorbo spoke “about how he was one of the few, but very proud, conservatives in Hollywood” as well as how much he “admires Romney and Ryan.”
Ryan is expected to return to the Capitol later Thursday to vote in the House of Representatives for just the second time since becoming Romney’s running mate. He will also spend part of the day working on his speech tomorrow to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), according to a Ryan aide, and he will hold a fundraiser at the famed Mayflower Hotel. Wednesday he spent half the day in debate prep with his new sparring partner Former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who is playing the role of Joe Biden, according to the same aide.