- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Republicans at the national convention in Cleveland said Wednesday they support the strong anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric at the gathering, which has included chants of “Lock her up!,” but they suspect the messaging will soon shift to more of a defense of why Donald Trump is the better candidate.

Democrats say the focus on bashing Clinton shows that Republicans are unhappy with Trump as their nominee.

“The outright racism, the xenophobia that’s been running rampant throughout this convention, the dripping hatred they seem to have for Hillary Clinton, it’s just more of a rabid, good old boys club than anything else,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan in a conference call with reporters.

Gov. Scott Walker planned to focus much of his prime-time speech Wednesday at the convention on making the argument against Clinton, much as Sen. Ron Johnson and others did on Tuesday. House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Janesville, told the convention that only by electing Trump and running mate Mike Pence does the country “have a chance at a better way.”

Many Wisconsin Republican delegates said they had no problem with going so hard after Clinton.

“The country needs constant reminders of her disregard for the law,” said delegate Jim Geldreich, chairman of the Washington County GOP. “However, I think at some point the message will shift from that to what a President Trump will do for this country.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he thought the convention had been well orchestrated so far and that “taking the first two days to remind Americans about the total abject failure of Hillary Clinton and her failures is probably a good thing to unify the party.” Moving forward, Vos said, the focus will move from Clinton’s failings to “solutions that are offered by Republicans all across the country.”

Wisconsin delegate John Macy, chairman of the Waukesha County Republican Party, said he thought it was “absolutely” the right strategy for speakers at the convention to attack Clinton. And Macy said he didn’t have any concerns about the comments further alienating women voters.

“Women like to be educated as to the truth,” Macy said.

A Marquette University Law School poll released earlier this month showed that 53 percent of women favored Clinton compared with 29 percent for Trump. The poll showed that 70 percent of women in Wisconsin have an unfavorable view of Trump, while 48 percent of women view Clinton unfavorably.

Not all Republican delegates are excited by the Clinton bashing.

“Attacking Hillary Clinton, while fun, is counterproductive,” said Rohn Bishop, an alternate delegate who is treasurer of the Fond du Lac County Republican Party. “Everyone already knows she’s a crook. This convention is a chance for Donald Trump and his family to show America who Mr. Trump is, and that they can trust him, and find him acceptable to being the president.”

Republican delegate Jim Miller, GOP chairman of the 7th Congressional District, said the Clinton bashing is “not really my style,” but he understands why it’s done.

“It’s a rough and tumble sport so I guess I’m not surprised,” Miller said. He said he anticipates Democrats will do much the same against Trump at their convention next week in Philadelphia.

Pocan hinted at that, saying dislike of Trump will help convince undecided voters to back Clinton.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

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