NPR: David Welna

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.

Having previously covered Congress over a 13-year period starting in 2001, Welna reported extensively on matters related to national security. He covered the debates on Capitol Hill over authorizing the use of military force prior to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the expansion of government surveillance practices arising from Congress' approval of the USA Patriot Act. Welna also reported on congressional probes into the use of torture by U.S. officials interrogating terrorism suspects. He also traveled with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Afghanistan on the Pentagon chief's first overseas trip in that post.

In mid-1998, after 15 years of reporting from abroad for NPR, Welna joined NPR's Chicago bureau. During that posting, he reported on a wide range of issues: changes in Midwestern agriculture that threaten the survival of small farms, the personal impact of foreign conflicts and economic crises in the heartland, and efforts to improve public education. His background in Latin America informed his coverage of the saga of Elian Gonzalez both in Miami and Cuba.

Welna first filed stories for NPR as a freelancer in 1982, based in Buenos Aires. From there, and subsequently from Rio de Janeiro, he covered events throughout South America. In 1995, Welna became the chief of NPR's Mexico bureau.

Additionally, he has reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Financial Times, and The Times of London. Welna's photography has appeared in Esquire, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Covering a wide range of stories in Latin America, Welna chronicled the wrenching 1985 trial of Argentina's former military leaders who presided over the disappearance of tens of thousands of suspected dissidents. In Brazil, he visited a town in Sao Paulo state called Americana where former slaveholders from America relocated after the Civil War. Welna covered the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, the mass exodus of Cubans who fled the island on rafts in 1994, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, and the U.S. intervention in Haiti to restore Jean Bertrand Aristide to Haiti's presidency.

Welna was honored with the 2011 Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress, given by the National Press Foundation. In 1995, he was awarded an Overseas Press Club award for his coverage of Haiti. During that same year he was chosen by the Latin American Studies Association to receive their annual award for distinguished coverage of Latin America. Welna was awarded a 1997 Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. In 2002, Welna was elected by his colleagues to a two-year term as a member of the Executive Committee of the Congressional Radio-Television Correspondents' Galleries.

A native of Minnesota, Welna graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, with a Bachelor of Arts degree and distinction in Latin American Studies. He was subsequently a Thomas J. Watson Foundation fellow. He speaks fluent Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

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7:32am

Sat March 23, 2013
Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court

The Senators Who Oppose DOMA, Despite Having OK'd It

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 12:53 pm

Supreme Court justices will hear arguments Tuesday on California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. On Wednesday they'll hear arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

The soul-searching over the Defense of Marriage Act went viral last week after Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a social conservative and original co-sponsor of the 1996 bill, sought out CNN to say something no one saw coming.

Portman said he'd decided to oppose DOMA and support same-sex marriage, two years after learning his college-age son was gay.

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5:14am

Sat March 16, 2013
It's All Politics

Ted Cruz: From Texas Underdog To Republican Up-And-Comer

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 7:48 am

Texas Republican Ted Cruz, then senator-elect, speaks to reporters before a freshman senators luncheon on Nov. 13.
Harry Hamburg AP

The keynote speaker at Saturday night's closing session of the Conservative Political Action Conference is a 42-year-old Texan who's been a U.S. senator since January.

In that short time, Tea Party Republican Ted Cruz has already made a mark — and in doing so, he's simply ignored a tradition of new senators being seen, not heard. Cruz's sharp elbows have some colleagues wincing and others hoping he'll run for president.

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4:36pm

Fri March 8, 2013
Afghanistan

Hagel Travels To Afghanistan On First Trip Abroad As Defense Secretary

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 6:03 pm

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan on Friday, his first overseas trip as the new Pentagon boss.

2:06pm

Fri March 1, 2013
It's All Politics

5 Dates To Watch In Budget Showdown

President Obama speaks to reporters Friday at the White House after he met with congressional leaders regarding the sequester. "Even with these cuts in place, folks all across this country will work hard to make sure that we keep the recovery going," said Obama. "But Washington sure isn't making it easy."
Charles Dharapak AP

Friday's deadline for President Obama to issue a sequestration order is neither the beginning nor the end of this year's budget battles in Washington. Here are five key moments to watch over the next seven months, and what's at stake in each:

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3:03am

Thu February 21, 2013
It's All Politics

Meet The Virginian Shaping The House GOP's Immigration Plan

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 8:24 am

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., checks his phone before a hearing on Capitol Hill in September.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform seems to top everyone's legislative wish list this year, and bills are already taking shape in the White House and the Democratic-led Senate.

A bipartisan group of senators recently laid out a path to citizenship for millions living in the country unlawfully. Less clear is where the Republican-led House is headed on immigration.

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3:43am

Tue February 12, 2013
Politics

Sen. Rubio's Response Gives GOP A Chance To Woo Hispanics

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 8:44 am

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a fundraiser in Altoona, Iowa, on Nov. 17. He is delivering the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Republican leaders have tapped Marco Rubio, a 41-year-old Cuban-American senator from Florida, to deliver the official GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

It's a chance for a party that has fared badly with both young and Hispanic voters to showcase a fast-rising, youthful Latino with a new stance on immigration.

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5:08am

Sat February 9, 2013
Reporter's Notebook

For Some In Minneapolis, National Gun Debate Hits Close To Home

Originally published on Sat February 9, 2013 12:11 pm

President Obama greets law enforcement officers after speaking on ideas to reduce gun violence at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations on Monday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

The shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in December revived a national debate about gun violence. It's one that is emotional and often highly personal, and it's happening in places far from the halls of Congress. Earlier this week, President Obama was in Minneapolis advocating new limits on guns; no law or set of laws, he said, can keep children completely safe. NPR's David Welna was there for the visit and sent this reporter's notebook about the voices he encountered.

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5:18pm

Wed February 6, 2013
It's All Politics

Even In Blue Minnesota, Gun Control Seems A Tough Sell

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 8:36 pm

Gun rights advocate Andy Cers of Minneapolis listens to testimony during a Minnesota House hearing on gun violence bills Tuesday in St. Paul.
Jim Mone AP

Minnesota has a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, and Democrats control both houses of its Legislature. So it may have come as no surprise when President Obama went there earlier this week to rally support for his proposals to reduce gun violence.

But even in the politically blue state, there's considerable resistance to placing further restrictions on gun ownership.

During his visit to a Minneapolis police facility Monday, Obama urged Minnesotans to find common ground in curbing gun violence.

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6:13pm

Fri February 1, 2013
It's All Politics

What's Behind Rubio's 'Full Circle Back' On Immigration?

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 7:17 pm

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, is among a bipartisan group of eight senators who this week announced a plan to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Marco Rubio has been the junior senator from Florida for barely two years, but he's already considered a likely 2016 presidential contender.

The 41-year-old Republican's political star rose still higher this week when he joined a bipartisan group of senators offering a path to citizenship to millions of unauthorized immigrants.

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4:50am

Fri January 25, 2013
NPR Story

Senate Changes Filibuster Rules

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 9:14 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When and if the U.S. Senate is ready to confirm Mary Jo White to head the SEC, she may find her path somewhat smoother - thanks to a rule change the Senate agreed to last night. The new Senate rule makes it just a little bit harder to block nominations, and a little easier to reach resolution than it was for President Obama's nominees in his first term. It's part of a subtle revision of the most potent weapon of the minority party: the filibuster. Here's NPR's David Welna.

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5:33pm

Tue January 22, 2013
It's All Politics

President's New Term Doesn't Mean New Day In Congress

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 8:48 pm

The U.S. Capitol at sunrise on Monday, before President Obama's second inauguration. While the president raised big issues in his inaugural address — climate change, gay rights, immigration, the shooting of schoolchildren — none of them appear to top the agenda of Congress, which returned to work Tuesday.
Drew Angerer EPA /Landov

The Senate picked up Tuesday exactly where it left off nearly three weeks ago. By a twist of the rules, the Senate chamber remains in its first legislative day of the 113th Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he's kept things at the starting point so that he and his fellow Democrats have the option of changing the rules on the filibuster by a simple majority vote.

"The Senate will take action to make this institution that we all love, the United States Senate, work more effectively," Reid said Tuesday. "We'll consider changes to the Senate rules."

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5:57pm

Wed January 16, 2013
It's All Politics

The Decades-Old Gun Ban That's Still On The Books

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:16 am

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officer Jay Phillippi looks over a fully automatic Thompson machine gun that was turned in during a "Gifts for Guns" program in Compton, Calif., in 2005.
Chris Carlson AP

When President Obama laid out his proposals Wednesday to reduce gun violence, he included a call for Congress to ban "military-style assault weapons."

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6:09am

Sun January 13, 2013
It's All Politics

Cabinet Picks Come As Democrats Push To Change Filibuster

Originally published on Sun January 13, 2013 2:25 pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have talked about a deal to change the Senate's filibuster rules.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

In recent weeks, President Obama has chosen Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as his next secretary of state; former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to head the Pentagon; counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be CIA director; and his chief of staff, Jack Lew, to be the next Treasury secretary.

Each nomination will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and they all could be stopped by a Senate filibuster — that is, the refusal by any one of 100 senators to let a matter come to a final vote.

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5:28am

Sat January 5, 2013
It's All Politics

As The Capitol Turns: Little Has Changed In Congress' New Season

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 9:59 am

House Speaker John Boehner swears in the newly elected members of the 113th Congress on Thursday.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

This week saw both a frantic finale to the much-unloved 112th Congress and, hours later, the swearing in of the new 113th. The cast of lawmakers and their leaders is mostly unchanged. The same can be said for Capitol Hill's never-ending drama over taxes, deficits and spending.

What was arguably this week's most sensational congressional moment did not even take place in Washington. On Wednesday in Trenton, N.J., Republican Gov. Chris Christie blasted the GOP-led House for closing down the last Congress without even considering a Superstorm Sandy disaster relief bill.

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3:33am

Mon December 31, 2012
Politics

After Fruitless Weekend, Congress Still Seeks Fiscal Deal

Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 5:46 am

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, leaves the Senate chamber to caucus in the Capitol on Sunday.
Molly Riley AFP/Getty Images

It is almost unimaginable that both the House and Senate would be in session on a Sunday evening on the penultimate day of the year. And yet, they both were, with lawmakers hoping it was not merely a big waste of time and effort.

A bipartisan push by Senate leaders over the weekend has so far failed to forge a deal to spare American wage earners from tax hikes and shield government programs from drastic cutbacks.

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5:22am

Sat December 29, 2012
It's All Politics

Congressional Leaders Hopeful As Fiscal Cliff Deadline Nears

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 5:38 pm

House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the White House on Friday for talks with President Obama and congressional leaders aimed at avoiding the "fiscal cliff."
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Even though the top four congressional leaders left their White House meeting with the president separately and silently on Friday, they cast the hourlong encounter in a positive light back at the Capitol.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described the tone of the discussion to head off across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts as "candid." An aide to House Speaker John Boehner put out a statement that noted that the group agreed the next step should be the Senate's — a tacit acknowledgement that Boehner is no longer the lead negotiator with President Obama.

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6:22am

Wed December 19, 2012
Politics

Capitol Hill Reaction To Gun Mayhem Varies

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:44 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Even before the events of the last few days, Congress had a busy agenda. Lawmakers are negotiating over taxes and spending that could affect the economy in the year ahead, not to mention almost every part of the federal government and the take-home pay for millions of Americans.

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5:21pm

Mon December 17, 2012
It's All Politics

Some Senators Show Willingness To Take On Gun Laws

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 7:19 pm

Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, has an "A" rating from the NRA, but questions why anyone would need the kind of semi-automatic assault rifle used in the Newtown, Conn., killings.
Dave Martin AP

As President Obama spoke to mourning families in Newtown, Conn., on Sunday night, he clearly seemed to suggest a need for tougher gun laws.

"Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?" he said.

For Congress, the politics have been too hard.

The combination of a powerful gun owners' lobby in the form of the National Rifle Association and a loss of public support for gun control has stymied efforts in recent years to tighten gun laws.

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6:42am

Sun December 16, 2012
It's All Politics

Parting Advice From The Senators Leaving Congress

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 9:11 am

Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

The United States is now just over two weeks away from a plunge over the "fiscal cliff" — that is, unless Congress can agree on a deal to prevent automatic tax hikes and spending cuts in the new year. But once again, Congress seems headed for the brink.

That's been happening more and more in recent years. And it was noted sadly by a string of retiring senators as they were bidding their colleagues farewell this past week.

Daniel Akaka

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5:19am

Sat December 15, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats Dig In Their Heels On Entitlement Cuts

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 1:43 pm

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats aren't going to throw America's seniors over the fiscal cliff to give a tax cut to the wealthiest.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Congress has barely two weeks to agree on a deficit-cutting deal to keep the nation from going over the "fiscal cliff" in the new year. The problem is that right now there is no such deal to agree on.

Republicans reject the higher tax rates for top incomes that President Obama demands. And they also insist on more austere entitlement programs, which has Democrats digging in their heels.

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4:48am

Wed December 5, 2012
Politics

Senate Fails To Ratify U.N. Treaty On Disabilities

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 9:09 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And amid that budget debate, a wall of Republican opposition to a new United Nations treaty kept it from being ratified in the Senate. The treaty is aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of disabled people. And even though it was inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Republicans argue that it would harm U.S. sovereignty and even interfere with home schooling. Here's NPR's David Welna.

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3:20am

Sun December 2, 2012
It's All Politics

The 3 Unofficial GOP Rules That Are Making A Deficit Deal Even Harder

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 7:40 pm

House Speaker John Boehner takes questions during a news conference Friday on Capitol Hill.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Making an already head-splittingly difficult deal on the fiscal cliff even harder to resolve is a set of three rules by which the Republicans who run the House play.

These are not official regulations; they're more shibboleths that House GOP leaders have adopted in recent years. And those rules are leaving House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, little room to maneuver as lawmakers try to avoid a set of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year.

1. "The majority of the majority"

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4:33pm

Wed November 28, 2012
Politics

Republican Cole Breaks Party Ranks On Fiscal Cliff

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 5:47 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block.

And we begin this hour with the nation's fiscal crisis. Congress and the White House have just 34 days to end the debate over revenue hikes and entitlement cuts and steer us clear of the fiscal cliff.

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3:23am

Thu November 22, 2012
It's All Politics

Before The Showdown: The Long Road To The Fiscal Cliff

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 4:45 am

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., prepares to announce a debt ceiling deal in July 2011. That deal laid the foundation for the across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect on New Year's Day, 2013.
Harry Hamburg AP

New Year's Day typically inspires hope and new beginnings. But this next one may be cause for trepidation. Tax cuts for all income levels expire on Jan. 1, 2013, and most federal programs will face a 10 percent haircut — because Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.

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5:23am

Sat November 17, 2012
Economy

Solving Fiscal Cliff Math Might Come Down To Two

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 1:54 pm

President Obama reaches to shake hands with House Speaker John Boehner, during a meeting Friday at the White House to discuss the deficit and economy.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Fresh off his re-election, a politically fortified President Obama summoned the top four congressional leaders to the White House on Friday for the first of what could be many rounds of talks for a deal to avert fiscal calamity.

The meeting was part of the opening moves to keep the nation from sailing over the so-called "fiscal cliff" — those across-the-board tax hikes and deep spending cuts set to kick in at year's end.

In welcoming the quartet of lawmakers, Obama struck a conciliatory note.

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4:22pm

Fri November 16, 2012
Politics

Congressional Leaders Optimistic On Budget Deal

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 8:07 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. For the first time since the election, Republican and Democratic congressional leaders came together at the White House and by all accounts, it was time well spent.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: We had a very constructive meeting with the president.

SENATOR HARRY REID: So I think it was a very constructive meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It was a very constructive meeting.

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4:43pm

Fri October 26, 2012
NPR Story

Akin Slowly Regains Support After 'Legitimate Rape'

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 5:57 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The race for the Senate seat held by Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, has seen some wild swings this year. Republicans initially thought their candidate, Congressman Todd Akin, had the race locked down. But that changed dramatically in August, when a controversial remark by Akin swung the race in McCaskill's favor. Now, Akin's recovered some of that lost support. NPR's David Welna has this update.

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6:32pm

Fri October 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Bachmann Faces Competitive Re-Election Bid In Minnesota

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 6:41 pm

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during the Family Research Council Action Values Voter Summit last month in Washington.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

More than a year after winning Iowa's Straw Poll for the GOP presidential nomination, and more than nine months after dropping out of that race, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is back on the campaign trail.

This time she's after a fourth term representing Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, and Bachmann's campaign is running into stiff competition.

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3:21am

Fri October 5, 2012
Solve This

Romney, Obama Far Apart On Closing Budget Gap

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 5:33 am

President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Here's one thing President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could agree on during their first debate this week: Something has to be done about the enormous gap between what the federal government collects in taxes and what it spends.

But the two men fundamentally disagree on what to do about that budget deficit.

The Problem

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4:24pm

Fri September 28, 2012
It's All Politics

In Blue-Leaning Connecticut, Tight Senate Race Has Democrat On Offense

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 7:24 pm

Linda McMahon (center) visits a senior center in Naugatuck, Conn., this month.
Jessica Hill AP

It might seem counterintuitive, but the man running against Republican Linda McMahon in her second attempt at becoming Connecticut's first female senator wants this race to be all about women.

Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy released an ad this week, hammering McMahon's stance on women's health and reminding voters of McMahon's former role as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

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