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.
ST. GERMAIN - We all love our favorite sports teams. But what would happen if you had to dress up in your rival's gear? That's exactly what happened to Bears fan, Jerry Healy.
He's the janitor at St. Germain Elementary School. Healy challenged the students to raise over $700 for charity. If they did he'd wear the green and gold.
“Mr Healy you're unbelievable thank you for doing this,” says Jerry Healy, St. Germain Elementary School Janitor. “One kid said, "all this is disgusting Mr. Healy,” and another little kid who's a diehard Packers fan came up he came up and he's got an orange and blue pair of pants on and goes I'm a bears fan, today you're a packer fan, and that was pretty cool he's in second grade.”
As you can see the students surpassed the goal. The money went to pennies for patients. It’s an organization that supports people diagnosed with leukemia. The challenge brought the whole school together.
“Well I think they rose to the occasion they understood they're helping others in an easy but fun way. They came together as a class, as a whole school and just had a lot of fun with it,” says Jeff Waltz, a third grade teacher at St. Germain Elementary School.
This wasn't the first time Jerry got to dress up as a Packers fan. He did the same thing a few years ago when students accomplished a reading goal.
RHINELANDER - Wisconsin’s attorney general enforces and defends laws made by the state, but one of Wisconsin’s candidates for the position believes his opponents will only pick and choose.
Right now Republican Candidate Brad Schimel, Waukesha County district attorney, faces three Democrats, Rep. Jon Richards, Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne. Richards represents a portion of Milwaukee in the State Assymbly. Happ is the Jefferson County District Attorney. Ozanne is the Dane County District Attorney.
Schimel says some of his opponents, especially Richard will only enforce laws they agree with.
"That's problematic and I believe that's not what the attorney general should be doing, that's a crusade, that's a policy maker," Schimel said. "If Rep. Richards wants to do that then he should stay in the legislature."
Richards has been in the Legislature since 1998.
Newswatch 12 asked him Friday if he would pick and choose laws to enforce.
He said he’d look at the constitution to determine how he would enforce laws in Wisconsin.
"I can grantee you there are plenty of laws that I voted against that I will end up enforcing and making sure that we implement," Richards said, "And there are some laws that I think clearly violate the U-S constitution or the state constitution and we'll be taking a hard look at those."
Democratic candidates Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne were not available before running this story.
Richards was touring the Northwoods Friday talking to media and district attorneys in the area.
The Democratic primary is set for August 12th. Election day is Nov. 4, 2014.
WOODRUFF - The Olympics might be over, but the Paralympics are underway in Sochi. Teachers at one local school are using the Olympic spirit to teach students about other countries.
Students at North Country Montessori celebrated International Day Friday morning. The students learn about different countries throughout the school year.
"The children at Montessori do a huge unit on geography and world culture, and we used today as a way to express the information that we found and things that we've learned," says North Country Montessori director Candice Henderson.
This year's theme was the Sochi Olympics.
Each student dressed up as a different country and sang songs in Russian.
This was the school's 30th annual International Day celebration. It ended with a potluck meal featuring ethnic food from different countries.
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