For those of you who continue to give me good feedback on my "behind the scenes" e-mails about my congressional trips overseas, you have only yourself to blame for this latest edition - overly long as usual.
For those of you who are new to these accounts, one of my responsibilities as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (and specifically, in my new role as top Democrat on the subcommittee on the Middle East and Counter-terrorism) is to travel overseas to represent the United States and conduct fact-finding relevant to important discussions before the committee.
I've developed a habit over the years of writing a journal of my trip, both as a means of connecting my constituents to the unvarnished reality of congressional travel and organizing my thoughts upon my return.
This trip was especially timely. I was joined by my good friend Senator Gary Peters of Michigan on a whirlwind 5 day tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Iraq, and the Syrian refugee camps of Jordan, with the intent of focusing in equal parts of the fight against ISIL, the Syrian crisis, and the Iran nuclear deal. Our expectations were high for what we would learn and what we would see, and the trip, as you will see, did not disappoint.
Tuesday/Wednesday - Washington to Bridgeport to Abu Dhabi I started Wednesday morning with a 7:30am flight from Washington to White Plains, and immediately got in a car to make a few stops in Connecticut before heading out to the Middle East. Since my flight didn't take off until 3pm from New York, I decided to first visit a domestic violence program in Bridgeport and meet with local officials in Darien about a development project around the Noroton Heights train station.
Like on every single one of these trips, I had forgotten to pack something. This time, it wasn't a small item. Black dress shoes. Rats. I ask my staffer if we can carve out time to stop by the Trumbull Mall, and luckily we have 15 extra minutes before the Bridgeport stop, and even luckier for me, there's a pair of size 12s on the sale rack with my name on them.
At noon, I hop back in the car and we drive down to JFK Airport and with fifteen minutes to spare, I jump onto a 13 hour overnight direct flight to Abu Dhabi.
We touch down in the early afternoon, and rush to the Embassy. Senator Peters isn't getting in from Detroit until that night, so I'm on my own for the afternoon meetings. I sit with our Ambassador, Barbara Leaf, for a quick half hour before departing for meetings with the Minister of State, Anwar Gargash, and the Minister of Defense, Mohammed Al Bawari.
UAE, arguably our most militarily capable partner in the Gulf region, is fairly myopic in their regional threat assessment. It's all about Iran and extremism (running the gamut from the Muslim Brotherhood to ISIS) - in that order. In fact, the entire powerpoint presentation at the Ministry of Defense is entitled "The growing threat from Iran."
The UAE is so worried about Iran's growing influence in the region that they have sent their own military into Yemen to fight the Iranian-backed Houthis. And they've had success - defeating the Houthis in the port city of Aden. But now they have a problem, not unfamiliar to us Americans - they now occupy Aden and have to figure out what to do next with the civil war simmering under the cover of their military protection. I ask questions like "what is your exit plan?" and "are you going to be asking for more weapons from the U.S. if you can't find a way to get out of there?" Unfortunately, they seem to have given about as much thought to the endgame as we did before going into Iraq. Not encouraging.
After our last meeting, we head to dinner with a political advisor from the Embassy to further discuss U.S. interests in UAE. We roll back into our hotel at 11 and crash after a hyper-long day.
Thursday - Qatar 7am baggage call for our flight to Qatar. I look at our schedule and note that we are immediately going to meetings with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Finance Minister (separately), with no time to get to the Embassy first. I tell my staffer to call ahead and have our Ambassador, Dana Shell Smith, meet us at the airport so she can give us a quick brief before our meetings.
Ambassador Smith is standing in the terminal upon our arrival, and she quickly ushers us into a airport holding room for a quick chat. She tells us that the Emir has suddenly left town, so our meeting with him has been cancelled, but that the CEO of Qatar Air has asked if we will have lunch with him during that hour instead. We agree, wondering what the heck the CEO of their national airline wants with us.
From the outside, Qatar and UAE likely look like twins - small, oil rich Sunni monarchies that are largely friendly to the U.S. But their philosophies on the region are very different - Qatar does not fear Islamism as does the UAE. In fact, their tolerance for Islamic parties is too permissive for many in the U.S. and neighboring states - Qatar's multidimensional approach is epitomized by the fact they host both the leader of Hamas and a large U.S. airbase on their soil.
But this strategy of political inclusiveness gives Qatar's foreign minister an interesting perspective on regional events. He tells us, during a meeting in an opulent room at the Sheraton Hotel, that the Iran nuclear deal must go forward or we will have no chance to bring Iran to the table to solve the crises in Syria and Iraq. He tells us that right at this moment, he has all the Sunni groups from Iraq meeting in the hotel, and that without Iran at the table, there can be no reconciliation between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq. Go get the deal done, he pleads with us.
I'm impressed that all these groups are together talking about a way forward in Iraq, and as we head to lunch, ask our Ambassador how the Foreign Minister from a tiny country like Qatar could command all the Iraqi Sunni groups to assemble in Doha. "Money," she says. .
Lunch with Akbar al Baker, the charismatic CEO of Qatar Air (at one of the many restaurants in Doha that he owns), is a sight to behold. The reason for the meeting? The American airlines are threatening to file action against the Gulf state airlines for illegal subsidies, and he wants us to know he's done nothing wrong. "I'm just the same as them!" he protests. "They have investors and I have investors. It's just that my investor is the State of Qatar."
A little probing elicits the important distinction between U.S. airline equity and Qatar Air equity. His investor doesn't really need his money back for a while, and doesn't really need a return on the investment, and...also lets him run the Doha airport. Huh. "That certainly sounds like unfair competition to me," I tell him. Nonsense, he protests. He presses and presses us to meet him at the airport the next day before our flight and he will prove it to us. We agree.
(Doha at night)
Friday - Qatar to Baghdad Friday morning we head out to Al Udeid Air Base, headquarters for the U.S. air campaign against ISIL. Much of our two-hour stop is classified, but suffice it to say the scope of our air strike campaign is stunning to see. It's the middle of the day, and as we watch a giant screen tracking all the coalition (read: U.S.) planes above the skies of Iraq and Syria, there almost isn't a piece of the map that isn't covered by a symbol representing a U.S. aircraft.
The general in command tells us that we've killed around 18,000 ISIL fighters. Then we ask how many have joined during time. "Unfortunately, around the same number," he replies. That's hard to hear, and it can't help but force me to wonder whether, like in the Iraq War, we are killing just as many as are created because our presence in theater is a limitless recruitment tool for the enemy. But the ISIL campaign isn't the Iraq War. ISIL is a terrorist army like we have never seen - they cannot be ignored. And even if our bombing campaign does help them develop new recruits, they were growing in strength before we reentered Iraq, and the alternative - simply letting them grow their territory without contest - is unacceptable.
But the really discouraging meeting occurs at the headquarters for our new effort to train and equip the Syrian "moderate, vetted opposition." I've been an opponent of this program from the start, and the briefing we get is almost painful to hear. Fifty-four fighters were trained in the initial program, we are told. But after the training ended, we sent them back home for a short period of leave before sending them back into Syria to fight. The problem? Many of them didn't come back - they took the cash and equipment and stayed home, sometimes to defend their villages against attacks from ISIL or Assad.
"How many?" asked Senator Peters.
"Most of them," says our military briefer.
"How many actually came back to fight?" presses Peters. The briefer finally divulges the number (which I'm told is classified). The look on Sen. Peters' face is hard to describe.
After our briefings at Al Udeid, we speed to the airport where Akbar is waiting to give us a tour. His airport is a sight to behold - the business class lounge has full restaurant service, a lap pool, a sauna, and...wait for it...two squash courts. His prolific knowledge of the airport's operations and attention to every detail of its design and construction were impressive. However, Peters and I are fairly sure the grandeur of the airport couldn't be sustained without a hefty subsidy from the government of Qatar. Two squash courts! We thank Akbar for the entertaining tour and board a very comfortable commercial flight to Kuwait.
In Kuwait, we transfer to a U.S. Air Force C-130. It's a twin-propeller cargo plane, so we strap into jump seats in the bay and get ready for a bumpy ride. This is how I first got into Iraq in 2007 on my first trip, so I'm used to it.
By the time we arrive in Baghdad, we only have time for a few meetings. Our able Ambassador, Stuart Jones, gives us a briefing at his residence. He describes a very fragile environment where political reconciliation between Shia and Sunni has stalled amidst growing street protests - every Friday night - over the lack of reliable electricity in Baghdad. Jones describes a growing level of Iranian influence in Iraq, and though he praises the new Prime Minister, Haider Al Abadi, for beginning the process of political reform, he clearly believes the government isn't moving fast enough.
We have dinner with representatives of minority groups, including the Bishop of Baghdad for the Chaldean Christians, and hear the harrowing stories of the ISIL massacres of Christians throughout Iraq. They beg us to stay in Iraq to help fight ISIL so that more won't be murdered. After dinner, the Deputy Chief of Mission takes us out for a drink to the one bar on the embassy compound, Baghdaddy's.
We sit at one of the picnic tables casually arranged on the concrete patio, and we have a clear view of the glittering neon sign of the Babylon Hotel. The DCM mentions that the hotel, which is frequented by NGO's and journalists as well as diplomats and government officials, was recently the site of a coordinated car bomb attack. It's a sobering thought, and we can understand why the mood here - even on a Friday night - is not entirely light-hearted.
(Our ride into Baghdad by helicopter)
Saturday - Baghdad to Amann Saturday is a busy day in Baghdad. We start with breakfast at 8:30 with the Ambassador. Peters notes that this is our latest start time so far of the trip.
"I'm going to start warning our colleagues about going on trips with Murphy," he says. "You're wearing me out."
"You can blame McCain," I tell him. "I learned how to schedule these things from travelling with him."
We first get a briefing from our military command in Baghdad. It's clear our air campaign has made progress against ISIL, but the Iraqi army has been hesitant about moving fast against ISIL positions like Ramadi and Mosul. And our military is worried that even if the Iraqis take a Sunni city back from ISIL, there won't be a non-Shia dominated Iraqi force to hold the city. It's a conundrum which reinforces my belief that the solution inside Iraq isn't really military, it's political.
After a meeting with the oil minister, we are hosted for lunch by the young Sunni Speaker of Parliament. He is just back from Qatar, where he attended the Sunni leadership meeting, and he has now found himself under attack from the Shia Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider Al Abadi. Abadi is angry that there were some non-mainstream Sunni groups present in Qatar that support violence. The Speaker fumes to us that he has told Abadi of his trip and that Abadi is now attacking him in bad faith. We can feel the tension that grips this city.
After a few more meetings we head off to our last meeting of the day, with Prime Minister Abadi himself. I ask him directly how his efforts are going to build a Sunni national guard force that could hold Sunni cities once they are liberated from ISIL. "Not well," he says, "Now that the Speaker has come back from Qatar."
I am flabbergasted. He seems to be saying that he is going to hold off integrating the Iraqi military because of a political slight from the leader of the Sunnis in Parliament. The face of the Ambassador, who is with us in the meeting, turns pale.
I press him hard. "Your Excellency, this issue of the Speaker's visit to Doha seems to be totally unrelated to the Sunni national guard. I have to tell you that your friends in Congress aren't going to respond well to the continued postponement of the Sunni integration of the military. Patience in Washington won't last forever."
He seems to relent, and he starts to outline the type of Sunni national guard legislation he could support. We leave feeling like we helped walk him back a bit.
We hop back on the C-130, which drops us off in Amann, Jordan on its way back to Kuwait at around 9pm. We head to dinner with the head of the Middle East Scientific Institute for Security who arranged to gather some young Jordanian leaders for us to meet.
"Another late night," jibes Peters. And he's right, we get back to our hotel around midnight. Qatar to Iraq to Jordan in one day.
Saturday - Zaatari refugee camp Saturday morning at 7am we speed off in vans to the biggest Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, Zaatari. We arrive around 8:30am and get a quick briefing from the joint UN/Jordanian leadership team at the camp. They tell us that situation is dire. With the civil war persisting in Syria, many families have been at the camp for two or three years. This is nowhere anyone would want to live, especially given Jordan's prohibition on any of the refugees working and earning a paycheck. Outside the camp, hundreds of thousands of other refugees are living in the streets, and life is about to get much harder for them too since the World Food Program has run out of money and will no longer be able to supply the vast majority of refugees who live outside the camp with food.
This explains why so many refugees are giving up on the camps and fleeing for Europe. They see no end to the civil war, and little real humanitarian assistance on its way to make life in the camp better. We head out to see the camp for ourselves.
It is hard to describe with words what we saw. Make no mistake - the UN team is doing its best. They've replaced the tents with small tin box-like structures. There is decent medical coverage. There is little evidence of abnormal violence.
But half of the 80,000 who live in the camp are kids. And this is no place for a child to grow up. They get electricity for maybe 6 hours a day. Sewage and feces run through little trenches dug into the sand - we see 6 year old boys out in the heat digging and re-digging the pathways. Some girls and boys go to school, but most are forced by their parents to work for meager wages selling bread or doing hard labor. Girls have it the worst - many of them are sold into marriage in the mid-teens as a means of income for their family. Desperation and want emanate from every corner of the camp.
Anyone who refused to take in these refugees should come to Zaatari and tell these little boys and girls, living in daily squalor, that we just can't manage to help. Tell them to their face that it's too hard. What kind of country are we if we let these families, these little beautiful children, waste away while their country falls into ruin? How do we square our values with our actions if we let the World Food Program run out of money and then refuse to take these families into America for shelter?
We visit one of the schools. Girls, who go to school for a few hours in the morning so the boys can go for a few hours in the afternoon, are packed three kids to a desk. There must be a hundred in the fourth grade classroom they visit. Peters asks them what they want to be when they grow up, and just like any classroom in the U.S., their hands spring up. "A doctor," one yells. "A teacher," say most.
Walking out of the classroom, the UNICEF head grimly tell us, "They want to be teachers and lawyers and doctors. That's just because they haven't realized what's really in store for them. In a few years, they'll be sold into marriage or forced to work on the streets for money. And that's if they're lucky enough to still be alive.
(Zaatari refugee camp)
We get back into the vans to head to the airport, and Peters and I climb into the backseat as a quiet pall falls over our group. I know we are thinking the same thing. We cannot allow this reality to persist, if we have the means to change it.
We get to the airport just in time to catch our 12-hour flight back to New York. I am so restless I can't sleep on the plane. I read about 200 pages of the latest Robert Caro LBJ tome, and arrive in New York around 6pm. I catch a car service back to Cheshire, and look out the back window of our house. There is a giant white tent shimmering in the moonlight, with chairs and tables underneath.
And I remember, we are hosting a Labor Day picnic for 200 people tomorrow in our backyard after marching in the annual Newtown Labor Day parade.
The following is an email Chris sent to supporters shortly after finishing his Maiden Speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday April 10, 2013.
Earlier today, I made my maiden speech on the floor of the United States Senate.
When I was elected, I never would have guessed the speech would be about guns or gun violence. I could have never imagined it'd be about 26 dead kids and teachers in our corner of the world.
But sometimes issues find you.
Despite overwhelming support for change, passing common sense solutions like limiting magazine sizes and banning a small number of assault weapons too dangerous for retail sale appears like it will be an uphill battle.
A big reason for that is because Members of Congress have been listening to the wrong people. Congress thinks that the NRA speaks for gun owners, when they really don't any longer.
And that's why I ignore people like David Keane, the President of the NRA, who dismiss the effect of the laws we are debating this week. He said, a month ago, that all we are talking about is "feel good" legislation.
Well, he's right about that.
It would feel really good if Daniel Barden got on the bus this morning to go to school. Daniel was an immensely compassionate kid. He always sat next to the kids sitting alone at school. He never failed to turn off a light. When the family would leave the supermarket, they'd be halfway across the parking lot and they'd look back and Daniel was still holding the door open for shoppers.
It would feel really good if Ana Marquez Greene could still sing that song she loved. She sang and performed wherever she was. He parents said she never walked anywhere - her preferred mode of transportation was dance. And she loved most to sing and dance in church.
And It would feel really good if Benjamin Wheeler got to enjoy this beautiful spring day outside today. He was a piano virtuoso, but he really loved just running around outside playing soccer with his big brother Nate. He told his mom the morning of the shooting that he wanted to be a paleontologist when he grew up, "because that's what Nate was going to be, and I want to do everything Nate does."
In the next weeks, our task is to beat back the naysayers who say we can't, or won't, change the way things are. That we can't do anything about the thousands of Americans who are killed by guns.
Last night, another NRA-backed candidate lost a contested congressional election.
It's just the latest in a long line of defeats for the National Rifle Association, and their first since losing almost every one of their priority contests in 2012.
This is important because as early as this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to begin voting on actual legislation to reduce gun violence in the United States. And for a long time, the perception has been that crossing the gun lobby could lead to electoral problems.
Sign my petition letting members of the U.S. Senate know that you'll stand with them if they're attacked by the NRA for casting a vote for universal background checks, limiting magazine capacity, and an assault weapons ban.
Something horrible and unexplainable happened in Newtown on Friday. I've been there almost non-stop since Friday morning, and there are simply no words to express the grief that our friends and neighbors there are experiencing right now.
Today, Newtown is grieving. But Newtown is already recovering too. Every day since Friday I have witnessed hundreds of individual acts of humanity as the people of this small town reach out, with full hearts, to each other.
And we have our role to play too. I know that those on the outside, watching the events unfold, can feel a sense of helplessness. This feeling has caused so many people to ask me, "what can I do to help?"
Well, if you've been looking to do something - anything - to support the community in Newtown, consensus is that a contribution to the United Way of Western Connecticut is the best way to help. The United Way is collecting funds, right now, to help provide resources to the community throughout the coming weeks and months.
I just made my contribution, and if you are moved to join me you can do the same here:
Just before Labor Day, Quinnipiac University released a poll showing Linda McMahon with a three point lead in our U.S. Senate race.
Weeks later, we won by more than twelve points.
A lot of people have asked me just how we did it, so I wanted to share the story with our friends of how focus, organizing, and grassroots support propelled us to victory on November 6th.
A Focus on Key Constituencies Over the last two months of the campaign, we stressed several major differences between Linda McMahon and Chris.
Of course, the most important issue of the election was jobs: too many of our neighbors don't have one and many who do aren't paid well enough. Every opportunity we had, we contrasted Linda's "plan" with Chris's actual record putting people to work in Connecticut. Then we hammered home Linda McMahon's support for the Blunt Amendment that would deny women access to affordable reproductive care. Finally, Linda McMahon's comments about "sunsetting" Social Security at a Tea Party rally were also a critical piece of our messaging.
So, did it work? Take a look at these exit poll numbers and compare them to the August 28th Q-Poll results in parentheses.
Those making under $30,000: 71% to 26% advantage (49-44 lead for McMahon) Women: 60% to 39% advantage (50-46 lead for Chris) Seniors: 56% to 42% advantage (48-48 tie among those 55+)
The shift in these numbers more than accounted for the margin of victory on November 6th. Without any one of them, it's a much closer race -- without two of them, there would have been a different winner.
Debates that Made a Difference On October 7th, Chris and Linda met in their first debate of the fall campaign, and for the first time, voters got to see the clear differences between Chris and Linda - both with respect to their ideas and their depth of knowledge. Political observers agreed that Chris won the first debate hands down, and over the next several weeks, Chris continued to outclass McMahon at the three other October debates. Our internal polls suggested that a very large percentage of likely voters watched one of more of these debates, and it wasn't just a coincidence that soon after the first few debates were complete, polls showed us with our first consistent lead of the fall.
The Largest Grassroots Political Campaign Connecticut Has Ever Seen How do you beat $50,000,000? We put together the largest, most aggressive grassroots operation Connecticut has ever seen. The numbers in the home stretch of the campaign are absolutely staggering:
In the final four days of the campaign, 2,000 volunteers made 650,000 calls and knocked on 175,000 doors across the state. Yes, you read that right -- 175,000 doors. And on Election Day alone, we made over 400,000 phone calls and hit 75,000 doors.
Our field effort used sophisticated micro-targeting techniques to make sure that the conversations we were having with individuals were ones that were relevant to them. And our "pull operation" on Election Day made sure that we were not just delivering voters to the polls, but that they were Chris Murphy voters.
Our online, grassroots fundraising operation helped us to raise what we needed to raise in order to be competitive with Linda McMahon. We received $4.5 million dollars in contributions through the website, ActBlue, and from the support of organizations like DailyKos and MoveOn.org. That total represented 64,704 contributions at an average size of $69.58. Those numbers accounted for almost 45% of the total money raised by the campaign. That's grassroots.
All total, 78,405 individual contributions accounted for over $10.5 million for an average contribution of $133.90. Over 5,000 retirees contributed to the campaign and 2,000-plus individuals who were unemployed put their faith in Chris via their contribution.
And we were good stewards of that money. At the end of the day, our campaign spent an average of $12.88 per vote -- a tremendous ratio in race where the other side spent almost $50 million.
What Now? Chris is now immersed in his work both as a House member during the lame duck session and as a Senator-elect. As we go through this exciting transition, we know we could have NEVER pulled off this win without you. It was a victory for Connecticut, and you made it happen. But your job isn't done yet - Chris will need your help to be a great Senator for Connecticut. Stay tuned for how you can continue to help!
Over the past two years, we built the largest grassroots network of support Connecticut has ever seen in a statewide campaign.
Almost 70,000 individual contributions helped provide the resources we needed to keep it close on the air, and thousands of volunteers across the state delivered today's margin of victory on the ground.
But tonight's result is not the end of the campaign, it's beginning of a conversation I hope to continue with you throughout my time as a United States Senator.
As you watch the results come in from other races across the country, take a minute to share the hopes you have for the next few years at the link below:
I could not be more thankful for your support throughout this campaign.
From the thousands of individuals living paycheck to paycheck who sacrificed to give $5, $10, and $20, to the college students who volunteered between classes -- your support has humbled me and I will remember it with every vote I cast in the Senate.
I'll be in touch and I hope to hear from you soon.
Chris Murphy’s Fighting to Protect Medicare From Linda McMahon and Her Republican Allies
While Chris has fought to protect Medicare from Congressional Republicans, McMahon has admitted to being “on the same page” as Paul Ryan, the man who would turn Medicare into a voucher program. Click here to learn more.
Chris Murphy Supported Strengthening Medicare Benefits, Not Cuts – Dozens of Experts Have Debunked McMahon’s False Attacks
No matter how many times McMahon lies about Chris and his record of supporting Medicare, the fact remains that Chris has voted to strengthen Medicare. According to dozens of independent fact checkers, McMahon’s attacks are false, and Murphy’s vote simply did NOT cut Medicare. It actually strengthened the program. Click here to learn more.
Chris Murphy Has Fought to Protect Connecticut Defense Jobs. Linda McMahon’s False Attacks Are Just Wrong
Defense manufacturing employees and Congressman Joe Courtney agree: Murphy has been a leader in supporting Connecticut’s defense industry. Murphy has defended Connecticut’s role as the manufacturer of F-35 engines and supported the state’s submarine manufacturing. His “Buy American” legislation – which McMahon doesn’t support – would protect defense manufacturing jobs in Connecticut, and Murphy opposed sequestration which includes automatic defense cuts. Finally, even on of McMahon's fellow Republicans has called McMahon “beyond amateur” on defense issues. Click here to learn more.
Despite McMahon’s Lies, Chris Murphy Has a Jobs Plan to Create Good Paying Jobs for Connecticut’s Working Families
Contrary to McMahon’s claims, Murphy has a plan to create good paying jobs for Connecticut’s working families. His jobs plan is based on these ideas: simplifying the tax code, promoting and strengthening American manufacturing, reinvesting in our transportation infrastructure, making education a priority, and leading the way in renewable energy. Click here to learn more.
McMahon’s Tax Plan: Tax Cuts For the Rich
Fuzzy math and TV ads can’t mask this: not only would McMahon’s tax plan give herself a $7 million tax cut, but she would also shift the tax burden to the middle class. Click here to learn more.
McMahon’s Tax Plan: Not a Plan for Connecticut Jobs
McMahon touts her “Jobs Plan” every chance she can get, but the reality is that independent analysis has shown that her plan is nothing more than the same old copy-and-pasted right-wing policies that crashed our economy. Independent analysts have said that McMahon’s plan would cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires like herself while hurting the middle class and failing to create jobs. A UConn economist said McMahon’s plan would most likely require the elimination of middle-class tax deductions, leading to higher taxes for the middle-class, and it would increase the national debt. Click here to learn more.
Get the Facts About McMahon’s Extreme Right Wing Positions on Women’s Health Issues
McMahon claims to be pro-choice, but she supports extreme right-wing positions on women’s health. For instance, McMahon has said she would allow hospitals to deny emergency contraception to rape victims. McMahon’s position is out-of-step with the state of Connecticut as nearly 80% of registered voters support Connecticut’s law requiring health care providers to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. On this important issue, McMahon has shown she would kowtow to the most extreme elements of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate. Click here to learn more.
Linda McMahon’s Real Business Record: Taking Job-Creation Tax Credits, Laying off Her Workers to Increase Profits, Pocketing Millions
McMahon claims that she is a job creator, but her record shows that she is only out for herself, putting her own profits before the well being of her employees. In 2009, McMahon’s WWE accepted $10 million in tax credits intended to create jobs in the state. Instead of creating jobs, McMahon laid off 10% of her WWE workforce that very same year. McMahon even admitted that the layoffs were intended to increase her company’s profits. McMahon was certainly accurate in that respect, as she and her husband took home $46 million from WWE in 2009. Click here to learn more.
Get the Facts About McMahon’s Extreme Support For “Sunsetting” Social Security
McMahon now claims she would be a champion for Social Security, but when she spoke to tea partiers behind closed doors, she told them she believed in a sunset provision for Social Security which would end this important program that hundreds of thousands of Americans have earned and rely upon. Click here to learn more.
McMahon’s Extreme Plan Would Dramatically Slash Supports for the Nation’s Most Vulnerable
McMahon’s budget plan calls for slashing funds for almost every government program, including many programs that thousands of Connecticut residents rely on. In fact, according to projections by economists, her plan would eliminate funding for important programs entirely in the next few years – including Medicaid health insurance programs for children and low-income families, food stamps, home heating assistance, and unemployment insurance. The extreme cuts would gut the safety net that working families going through hard times rely upon to get back on their feet. Click here to learn more.
Chris Murphy Is Supported by Women’s Groups Across Connecticut, Because of His Strong Support for Women’s Rights
Women’s groups across Connecticut have endorsed Chris Murphy, highlighting his “strong commitment” to policies like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act that would help women earn the same amount as their male counterparts, and his “leadership” in supporting women’s reproductive rights and women’s health issues. Chris has also received 100% life-time ratings from NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Click here to learn more.
Women’s Groups Across Connecticut Have Condemned Linda McMahon’s Right Wing Anti-Choice Policies
Women’s groups across Connecticut and across the country have criticized McMahon for supporting anti-choice policies, including the Blunt Amendment, which would allow women’s bosses to deny them insurance coverage for important health services, including birth control. Click here to learn more.
Experts and Editorial Boards Across Connecticut Agree: McMahon’s “Special Interest” Mortgage Attacks Are “Nonsense” With “No Evidence” To Support Them
Every independent expert who has looked at McMahon’s attacks on Chris Murphy and his family – claiming they received a “special interest” mortgage – has found the attacks to be false and without evidence. The truth is that Chris got the same treatment as anyone else walking into their neighborhood bank. Editorial boards, independent experts, and the bank itself have all reached same conclusion: McMahon’s attacks are completely false and have no evidence to support them. Click here to learn more.
Hopefully by now you've taken all the necessary steps to prepare yourself for Sandy's arrival. But just in case, I wanted to make sure you had a few resources, which include actions you should consider taking before, during, and after the storm.
First, Governor Malloy set up a website with the latest news and preparedness tips. Visit it here:
You've seen the polls, so you know this election is going to be very close. Double check that you are registered to vote in Connecticut, and if you aren't please make sure you do before the end of the day on Tuesday, October 30th.
Yesterday, Senators Barbara Mikulski (MD), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Jeanne Shaheen (NH) as well as Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards came to hold a rally for Team Murphy in Hartford. They talked about Chris's strong record fighting for women's healthcare, fair pay legislation, and stronger violence against women laws. Senator Mikulski did a great job firing up the crowd, and we wanted to make sure to share that video!
With less than two weeks left, we need your help to make sure to keep our momentum going! You can sign up to join the campaign at www.chrismurphy.com/volunteer.
Today, Chris stopped at Jonal Labs in Meriden to talk about his Buy American plan to create jobs and to bring into stark relief the contrast between his policies and the plan McMahon copied and pasted from right-wing leaders.
This site was the perfect place to demonstrate how American manufacturing is the key to our economic recovery - with 70 employees, they build components for everything from jet engines to spacesuits - as their business is strong and growing. As Marc Nemeth, CEO, pointed out, they have to compete not only with other American companies, but foreign companies as well - even for contracts from the US Government. He applauded Chris's Buy American initiative as a real way to ensure federal tax dollars go to creating jobs here rather than overseas.
Check out Chris's remarks from the event in the video above, and learn more about Chris's plan to create jobs here.
Standing with supporters in Bushnell Park in Hartford yesterday, Chris highlighted Republican Linda McMahon's extreme right wing positions on women's health issues and called for an honest debate on this critical issue and so many others that matter to middle class families across Connecticut, and for a stop to the lies and smears that Linda is hiding behind.
Chris has the support of women throughout Connecticut - many of whom were on hand yesterday - because he has spent his career standing up with them when it comes to issues like choice, access to birth control, and strengthening violence against women legislation.
McMahon, on the other hand, has repeatedly indicated that she would instead stand with the extreme, anti-choice leadership in the Senate - including when that means voting for a bill that would limit women's access to contraception or voting to repeal legislation that ensures health insurers can't treat gender as a pre-existing condition.
At the event, women from around Connecticut talked about the profoundly negative impact Linda McMahon's extreme, right-wing policies would have on women. Denying access to insurance-covered contraception to women means that McMahon is indeed anti-choice, they argued, and that access to adequate health care is a vital economic issue for many women in Connecticut.
Hopefully, over the next six weeks, Linda McMahon will be willing to have a real debate with Chris - and an honest discussion with Connecticut voters - about her policies. In the meantime, she'll continue flooding the airwaves with her negative attacks. Your help is vital to our ability to fight back - you can sign up to get involved at www.chrismurphy.com/volunteer.
Yesterday, spectators gathered at the Capitol building steps to watch Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, NARAL Board Member Shannon Lane and NOW Board Member Jacqueline Kozin addressed Republican candidate Linda McMahon’s anti-woman positions.
McMahon’s support for the extreme Blunt Amendment, the degradation and demeaning of women while she was CEO at WWE, and her desire to repeal healthcare reforms which have helped women across the country gain access to preventative care prove that she is the wrong choice for women, and all citizens, of Connecticut.
“She’s going to deny access to all kinds of health care,” said Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman. “She’s pledged to overturn the law that would allow mammograms to be covered under preventative care. She’s pledged to overturn the law that prohibits childbirth from being considered a pre-existing condition. She’s pledged to overturn the law that prevents insurance companies from raising rates on women, simply because they’re women…McMahon’s spokesman yesterday said he believes that women in Connecticut see themselves in Linda McMahon. My response to that is anyone who thinks Linda McMahon represents a typical Connecticut woman trying to hold down a job and raise a family in Connecticut, in this economy, just doesn’t get it. The women in Connecticut are not going to vote for a woman just because she’s a woman.”
Shannon Lane of NARAL expressed similar sentiments.
“I am here today because Linda McMahon is telling the people of Connecticut that she is pro-choice and the evidence does not back up that statement,” added Lane, board member of NARAL Connecticut. “Linda McMahon says that she would support the Blunt amendment. This is an effort by the anti-choice leadership of the United States Senate to allow an employer anywhere in the country to opt out of any coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act…making sure that women who already have limited choices for health care have even fewer choices does not make you pro choice. Linda McMahon would vote for the anti-choice, anti-women leadership of the United States Senate who want to turn the clock back to the 1950s."
Board member of the National Organization for Women, Jacqueline Kozin, emphasized McMahon’s history with WWE as proof that she is a poor fighter for women.
“Linda McMahon has been spending millions of dollars portraying herself as a woman who should be a role model for other women, meanwhile she’s profited millions of dollars from degrading women and selling sex and violence to our children,” said Kozin.
Today, Team Murphy launched its newest coalition - Students for Murphy - on Yale's Campus in New Haven. Well over 50 students joined Chris in launching the group - and we're excited to have them on the Team.
We're really excited to launch this group. First, it recognizes Chris's strong record of fighting for the issues that students care the most about - everything from student loans and health care to LGBT rights and women's equality.
"My job is to stick up for everybody. But if I'm not standing up for students, as someone who is paying back my student loans today, or if I'm not standing up for young families, as the parent of a 4 year old and a 10 month old, then who is? Our mission as a nation and our mission as a state has to be getting more kids more quickly through college with skills that matter for this economy, and then making life more affordable in your twenties and thirties, so you can immediately start putting money back into the economy, rather than just paying back your bills," Chris said at the launch event.
You can sign up to join Students for Murphy at www.ChrisMurphy.com/students (and download a Facebook banner to show your school spirit as well as your support for Chris!).
Last week, we got a call from Marilyn, one of our supporters in Fairfield. She was sick of Linda McMahon's negative ads, and had come up with what we thought was an absolutely brilliant way to fight back - every time she sees one of McMahon's ads, she's putting a quarter in a jar. At the end of every week, she'll be donating that money to the Murphy campaign.
Needless to say, we fell in love with the idea and made a video to help share Marilyn's plan. We know McMahon will outspend us by a huge margin with her millions, but with people like Marilyn, we know we've built the strongest grassroots organization in Connecticut's history.
And we couldn't have said it better than Marilyn did: "We won't get to $50 million, but with all the ads she's running...maybe we'll get close!"
A Team Murphy Victory Jar is a great and easy way to get involved with Team Murphy and help ensure that McMahon doesn't have the airwaves to herself.