But Wednesday’s meeting was behind closed doors, leaving Ryan’s imprint largely invisible to the public — just as it was eight months ago in his chance meeting with Gutierrez in the House gym.

That is a clear example of how Ryan intends to handle his support for a comprehensive plan, according to associates. Dan Senor, who was Ryan’s top policy aide in the 2012 campaign, said Ryan will make an aggressive case for a bipartisan bill in his own way.

“His approach is not to do a million TV interviews, but to thoughtfully engage his colleagues, usually behind closed doors. So look for Ryan to make a full-throated, optimistic, pro-growth case for immigration reform; not through a big media rollout, but by talking directly to his colleagues,” Senor, who remains close to Ryan, said Wednesday.

Ryan’s role will be different from that of another 40-something Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), who became the highest-profile GOP supporter of the Senate’s legislation. Rubio helped craft the legislative language in bipartisan talks among eight senators, then aggressively sold the deal to skeptical conservative audiences in dozens and dozens of radio and TV appearances, sometimes several in a single day.