Republican leaders preach message of unity

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- On Saturday, May 3rd the biggest names in the Republican Party took the stage at the Wisconsin Republican Convention.

With even more potentially divisive votes on the schedule, Republican leaders preached a message of unity.

Before delegates from every corner of the Badger state, Governor Scott Walker sets the tone for his party's election year push.

"Wisconsin is better off today than it was four years ago and it will be even better four years from now if Republicans continue to reform our state government," said Walker.

It'd be hard to find anyone in the room Saturday who disagrees with that, but the state's Democrats believe most voters will have a different view.

"I think most middle-class families wouldn't say they're doing better right now than they were four years ago when Wisconsin's recovery is not keeping pace with the rest of the nation or our neighbors in the Midwest," said Melissa Baldauff, spokeswoman for Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

During Saturday's morning session, the state's most prominent Republicans urged delegates to put aside any disagreements and focus on the fall.

"We as Republicans, we have to unify. Why do we have to unify? Because we have to win elections. Why do we have to win elections? Because if it's not us, we will not save the American idea and the American dream," said Congressman Paul Ryan.

Even Congressman Tom Petri, at the end of his political career, repeats the message.

"This is not the conservative party convention, or the Libertarian Party convention, or the moderate party convention. This is the Republican Party convention," said Petri.

And on the second day of this year's Republican Convention, party leaders urged GOP backers to get behind a new phrase: Wisconsin's back on.

"Today, Wisconsin is indeed better than it was four years ago but we're not yet as great as we can be," said Walker.

At the end of the morning session, delegates officially endorsed Gov. Walker and Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, for re-election.

There was no argument there, but other votes scheduled for today, including whether the party supports nullification of the Affordable Care Act, are expected to contentious.