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Wisconsin GOP Leaders Urge Paul Ryan to be Himself in Big Speech

Party leaders and delegates offer up some advice for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan on what will be the biggest speech of his life.

TAMPA, FL -- All eyes will be on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan on Wednesday night as the Wisconsin congressman formally accepts his vice presidential nomination in a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention here.

Patch chatted with Wisconsin delegates and other party leaders in Tampa about Ryan's acceptance speech and asked them what they thought he needs to do to introduce himself to America.

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Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch: "Paul Ryan just needs to go and be himself. Paul Ryan is loved in Wisconsin. Paul Ryan is a hero not just to the GOP in Wisconsin, but to all of us who share his values, who share his love of the outdoors, his love of family and his Midwestern virtues that he is going to bring to Washington, D.C."

Former governor and U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson: "I would Paul to come out on that stage, take off his coat and roll up his sleeves, and look straight into the camera and say, 'I'm Paul Ryan. I'm a poor boy from Janesville, my ancestors came here from Ireland ... and I'm here because of the vision and the dream that my ancestors had ... and I want to tell you why I rolled up my sleeves. We've got a lot of work to do, and I'm going to tell you ladies and gentlemen that it's not going to be easy. But just like my Irish forefathers, who came here as farmers to build a new future, we have an opportunity right now to change the direction of America."

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen: "I think he just has to be himself — the same person he has always been everywhere he goes. He is just a regular American man, and the more people recognize that, the more people will appreciate that. He is just an ordinary Joe who really understands government and knows how it works, and it ready to get it back under control ... He'll joke around with you, he'll have a beer with you, he gets up and works out every day, he has a wonderful wife and a young family ... He needs to get that across to the general public."

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson: "Both Paul and Gov. Romney will hit it out of the ballpark in their speeches. They need to let the American people know who they are as individuals. Neither man is running for the title ... they realize America is in peril and they're doing this because America comes first and they want to solve this nation's problems. They will have to show that to the American people."

State Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills: "I think what Paul Ryan will put forward is an image of a leader who has vision and is able to carry out his vision, and can do it in practical ways through policy. He will be very clear about his vision, very clear about the strategy to achieve the vision and what it will take to get the job done. But he'll put in a framework of common sense and in a way the people can understand."

Terry Dittrich of Hartland, alternate delegate and finance chair of the Waukesha County Republicans: "I'm hoping for more of the same that we've seen from Paul for many, many years. He's very straightforward and a very honest person. He's tells it like it is. I think he's going to outline a vision for liberty, freedom and the fact that we need to get our fiscal house in order ... People are going to see a very dynamic, young, energetic leader who's willing to take on the tough issues and talk in depth about them."

Jeff Johns of Cedarburg, alternate delegate and chairman of the Ozaukee County Republican Party: "I think he needs to focus on the economic issues. There are people who are raising petty issues that are coming up, but he should just focus on unemployment, trade, debt and Obamacare — instead of the side issues that keep coming up."

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