Gambier, Ohio (CNN) – Sen. Rob Portman, one of a select few on presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney's running mate short list, revealed to CNN on Saturday a private moment understood by few politicians: being told by a presidential candidate, "I've chosen someone else."
"I haven't talked to anybody about this yet," Portman said. "But I guess it's probably out there from … the Romney folks who said it."
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"So, I got a call from Mitt Romney last evening - a very nice call," Portman said of the private conversation between the two men on Friday evening. At the time of the call, Portman explained, he was speaking to a group organizing a cancer research bike ride on Saturday in Ohio – an event he'd participate in.
"I was giving a talk to this group so I didn't take the call when he called," Portman said. "But I called him back. And had a great conversation. Very gracious. And we talked about what we need to do to both win the election but, more important to me, what we need to do to turn the country around."
Portman spoke to CNN after completing the 100-mile ride along with 6,500 others – just hours after Romney named House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate.
When asked how Romney broke the news to him, Portman said: "He just said, 'Look, I've appreciated all of your help and look forward to more of it coming. You know, I've chosen someone else.' "
"And he was, he was terrific. He was very generous and gracious in his comments."
The senator said he did not ask, and Romney did not reveal, whom he'd actually chosen. When asked if he was disappointed at not being picked, Portman said, "No."
"As I've said from the start, you know I'm fortunate to be where I am in the U.S. Senate. I feel like I can make a difference there," he said.
As did many other Republicans after Romney's decision emerged, Portman had kind words to say about Ryan.
Calling the budget chairman a "great pick," Portman said Ryan is "a national voice on the most pressing issues that face the country … the fiscal and the economic issues that we have to address as a congress. And I'm really looking forward to working with him as a member of the United States Senate. I hope they get elected," he said, adding that he would do all he could do to help.
On Wednesday, Portman threw cold water on the idea of himself joining the Romney ticket, saying that the Senate, to which he was elected in 2010, is "where I'm going to end up staying."
That has not stopped the senator from frequently hitting the campaign trail as a surrogate for Romney. Most recently, he spoke at five events across Colorado on Wednesday.