U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan urged the contingent at the annual Kenosha County GOP picnic Saturday not be “reactionary, angry Republicans.”
“What we have to do is expand our tent, expand our appeal and go persuade people who have historically not voted with us.”
That will not happen, Ryan said, if Republicans allow themselves to be “baited” into “reacting and spitting nails on T.V.,” which just makes them look “frustrated” and “unappealing.”
“We have to be a party that brings people into the party,” Ryan said.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, joined Ryan at the brief engagement, held at the Starlite Club, 8936 24th Ave. All three spoke of the importance of winning the 2016 Presidential Election.
“If we don’t win the White House in 2016, we can’t compete … as a party,” Priebus said. “So we have to win. It’s do or die, and I just want you to know, if anything, we are working like dogs to make that happen.”
Johnson thanked the group of about 100 for being “the ground troops,” and local party leaders and state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem, for organizing the event.
“We can’t have another four years of Democratic control,” Johnson said. “We have people here who have put Wisconsin on the right path. Now we need to put America on the right path.”
From Kenosha, Ryan and Johnson headed to the Racine County Fair in Union Grove Saturday to face off in a goat-milking competition.
Priebus this week will head to Cleveland, Ohio, for what could be one of the most outspoken debates in history among Republican Party presidential nominee hopefuls.
None of the three threw verbal support behind any particular candidate, though the importance of getting Ryan and Johnson re-elected was voiced by all who spoke at the event.
Ryan said the field of 17 hopefuls has a “good number of qualified candidates” but will be narrowed quickly thanks to a streamlined debate and primary process.
“I think we have made ourselves more likely to be successful in the general election based upon how the primary has been organized,” Ryan said.
Work to do
Priebus said the RNC is preparing for a massive ground operation and has been working to ensure there is not a “three-ring circus of a primary.”
“The work at hand, as you know, is enormous,” Priebus said. “We are going to have to be about perfect to win a big cultural vote in this country. My fear is that we have become a great mid-term party that doesn’t lose and a presidential party that doesn’t win.”
Ryan said heading to the party’s convention earlier in 2016 also will also be helpful.
“Most see Hillary Clinton as the de facto nominee for the Democratic Party who has the luxury of focusing on the general election,” Ryan said. “Our candidates don’t have that luxury because we don’t know who the nominee is going to be.”