More recently, Townsend accepted kudos at a press conference about efforts to provide new services for female prisoners - but moments later had to handle an awkward question about why the governor had postponed construction of a new building at Maryland's prison for women.
She blamed the delay on the state's "very tight budget," even though the governor's spending plan for next year has a record amount earmarked for construction projects.
It's relatively easy to avoid unscheduled interviews now, but it will be a lot tougher in a campaign setting, when she is certain to be questioned more and the stakes will be higher.
One Republican consultant said some in the GOP are betting Townsend's popularity will fall once she begins facing campaign-trail grilling.
"Kathleen hasn't really experienced the scrutiny that is given to a gubernatorial candidate," said Carol Hirschburg, a veteran Republican adviser. "If she can't take this heat, she isn't going to last long as a gubernatorial candidate. There's the suspicion she can't."
Some Republicans, who at this point have failed to find a candidate for the governor's race, have begun asserting that Townsend's verbal missteps - coupled with problems in some agencies she oversees such as juvenile justice - are an indication of a deeper problem.
"There's a track record that she may not be capable of being governor of this state," said Del. James F. Ports Jr., a Baltimore County Republican.
This week, in particular, some Republicans have accused Townsend of passing up opportunities to take questions from legislators on tough issues pending before the General Assembly.
Townsend and her staff sharply dispute that notion, pointing out that she has taken part in countless forums around the state and in the legislature in recent years.
But the Republicans' larger goal seems to be to draw Townsend into unscripted situations and see how she handles them.
"All I'm saying is, `Come out, Kathleen. Come out and take the scrutiny,' " Ports said.
Yesterday, Townsend turned to the most full-proof defense in politics: humor.
Shortly after the Super Bowl, she committed a small fumble by proclaiming in what has become a well-publicized interview, "I loved it when we made that football" to describe her reaction to a Ravens touchdown.
Yesterday, team owner Art Modell handed the lieutenant governor an autographed football and said, "Kathleen, for you. This is a football."
She laughed and said playfully, "And what do you do with it?"