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GOP Leaders Talk Image OverhaulSubmitted: 05/05/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


ROTHSCHILD - Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus wants a bold image overhaul for his party.

We spoke with him and other state leaders about how they're going to do it at the Wisconsin Republican Convention that wrapped up today in Rothschild.

"This is not a time to sulk, this is not a time to sink, this is not a time to drown your sorrows. This is a time to take stock; figure out what it is to improve on," says Congressman, and 2012 vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan.

Take stock is exactly what RNC Chairman Reince Priebus did. In March he presented what he called an "autopsy" of the party following nationwide losses including the White House.

"We haven't run a decisive presidential race in 24 years. So what's going on? I want to talk to you about that," Priebus said to the crowd at the convention.

In the report he offered blunt criticism of the party's image. It said the majority of poll respondents viewed the GOP as a party of "stuffy old men" that is "out of touch" and even "scary".

"I think it was spot on the money. I think what Reince did was a sobering assessment of what did we do right, what did we do wrong, where do we have room for improvement? If you don't win a national election you need to do that kind of analysis," says Ryan.

"Sometimes I think our party hasn't done a good enough job of trying to reach out. And I think that's what we need to focus on, is opening up our arms as wide as we can, listening to folks who might not agree with us on every single issue," says Robin Vos, Speaker of the Assembly.

The report says the party needs to be more inclusive and connect with more female, youth, gay and minority voters. But the question is, how? Do they need to figure out how to become more moderate on issues that are important to those voters?

"I think it's a matter of kind of what our moms used to say, 'It's not what you say, but how you say it'. And I also think it's a matter of using grace and love in your tone, which is a pretty good rule to live by. I think we all try to do that in our lives. But I think in politics you have to be reminded that love and grace is part of the conversation," says Priebus.

One of those ongoing conversations on immigration reform. Ryan is a vocal supporter; to the point of publicly disagreeing with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner at the convention this weekend.

So if some republicans want to meet democrats in the middle on an issue other republicans aren't willing to bend on-- will the infighting just be more destructive?

"There are a lot of other issues like this that have to be solved, that have been very difficult. And that's why we have got to start talking to each other," says Ryan.

Looking forward, Wisconsin republicans agree the state is the model the national GOP should follow if they want to get back into the White House.

"I think Wisconsin's really a leader for the rest of the country. We have been doing a good job of broadening our coalition," says Vos.

"I think the Republican Party of Wisconsin, nationally, has shown how republicans ought to conduct themselves," says Ryan.

"They've shown the rest of the country how to get it done, and we want to do what Wisconsin's doing all over America," says Priebus.



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"This will be our 9th Memorial Day where he hasn't been here," said Steven.

This weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the last time he saw his brother, Ryan, in person.

"He would be 30 on June on 1st," said Ryan's sister Jessica Holmgren.

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MARINETTE COUNTY - A 90-year-old man died in an ATV crash in Marinette County late Saturday afternoon.

According to the Marinette County Sheriff's Office, it happened private property north of Newton Lake in the Town of Athelstane.

90-year-old James Bosanny was driving the ATV with his 64-year-old son, James Bosanny, Jr., on board. He lost control on a small hill after hitting a plow before the ATV accelerated and hit a tree. They both were thrown off the ATV. The 90-year-old died at the scene.Crews took the son first to Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette and then later taken to a hospital in Green Bay for serious injuries.

The sheriff's office says neither was wearing a helmet. Police don't think alcohol or speed played a part in the crash. 

Crews are still investigating. James Bosanny, Sr., was from Monroe, Wisconsin, and his son, James Bosanny, Jr., was from Hortonville, Wisconsin. 

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RHINELANDER - You can only learn so much reading from a book or sitting behind a desk.

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With the help of Partners in Education and a Hodag School Foundation grant, the students visited Grace Lodge assisted living, Covantage Credit Union, Trig's and the courthouse.

The kids also got to see a firetruck, police car, and a public works vehicle at Pioneer Park. The field trip was designed to show off what the community can offer them now, and in their futures.

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The streets of Tomahawk were filled with more than 200 cars of all different kinds. Main Street Memories car show is a Memorial Day tradition.

"You know 22 years going strong, and we're proud of it," said Tomahawk Main Street director Christine Vorpagel. "Tomahawk Main Street, we're all about historic preservation and sustainable development."

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CONOVER - The rain fortunately stayed away in Conover for a part of Sunday afternoon just in time for the grand opening of the Conover-Phelps bike trail.

The project has been years in the making, and now it's ready to ride. A couple hundred people and local leaders came out in support of it.

"There's a real feel for people being enthusiastic about this," said Jeff Currie, the President of Great Headwaters Trails, which helped lead the bike trail project.

It's supposed to connect Conover to Phelps through nearly 11 miles of paved trail. The first part is open and goes from Conover Community Park to Muskrat Creek Road.

"3.2 miles on the ground and ready to be ridden on biked or hiked," said Brian Blank, the chairman of the Conover-Phelps Trail Capital Campaign.

"When people hear about a town and then when people say, have you seen their bike trail, it's just, right away it's like there's more to that town than I thought there was," Currie said.

While not yet complete, project leaders are hopeful the trail will be finished soon. Project leaders say the second part of the trail, about five miles long, is fully engineered but about 60 percent funded.

"We're about $200,000 away from completing the remaining five miles," Blank said.

"You know that funding could come, and when it does, five miles of trail in two or three months will be on the ground," Currie said.

"I have no doubt in the next couple years this trail will be completed all the way to Phelps," said Gary Meister, the vice president of Great Headwaters Trails.

The trail is non-motorized so, no ATVs allowed, but it will be a snowmobile trail in the winter.

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