"How does that work, exactly? I have no idea and no intention of finding out. Paul Ryan may disagree, and that's his privilege. But I'm going to be the president, not him, and I'm in good health and I am tired of talking about this, so let's move on."
Meanwhile, Ryan has been distancing himself from Todd Akin, the Republican representative from Missouri whose advanced views on rape have been the subject of much discussion in recent weeks. Asked his opinion about Akin and his controversial theories, Ryan had the same reaction as Romney: "Who?"
As recently as last year, Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Akin that would require a full body scan each time any doctor wishes to perform an abortion. In an interview, Akin clarified that he meant a full body scan of the doctor. "Studies have shown that doctors who have performed an abortion are more likely to develop cancer than doctors who have never performed an abortion," Akin said. "Or at least that's what someone told me. Or maybe I read it somewhere. Anyway."
Ryan said, "Where in the world does he get this stuff?" He said he has "no memory" of co-sponsoring the bill. "I co-sponsor a lot of bills, just to be polite. Everybody does. You can't hold me to the contents of any particular piece of legislation, just because I co-sponsored it.
"The point is, though, that it's just him and has nothing to do with me, just as I have nothing to do with Governor Romney, and Governor Romney has nothing to do with Representative Akin. The Republican Party is a big tent, as you know. We believe in individual rights, although we also have room for people who don't believe in individual rights as is their right."
All three men, in interviews, took care to distance themselves from the 2012 Republican platform. "Never even seen it," Romney said. "What's it say?" Told that it calls for a ban on abortion with no exceptions, Romney said: "You see? That is just the kind of issue I want to distance myself from. Is that a copy you're holding? Well, get rid of it."
Ryan conceded that some of the platform's more controversial passages might reflect his influence. Yet he added, "Just because I agree with some of it is no reason to associate me with it."
Reporters at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., were unable to find anyone who would admit to having read the platform, let alone claim credit for authorship of it. In fact, no one can remember where it came from.
"It just materialized one day. We glanced through it," said an RNC spokesman. "We thought, 'Well, here's something interesting,' so we posted it on our Facebook page. But that doesn't mean we endorse any view expressed in it."
Akin said, "I was talking to a guy in a bar, who told me that space aliens had landed during the night and had left behind copies of the platform before returning to Mars. Apparently, they wanted to distance themselves from it."