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Joe Donnelly Opposes Assault Weapons Ban, Spokesman Says

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Democrat Joe Donnelly thanks supporters after winning the U.S. Senate race over Republican Richard Mourdock at an election night celebration in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) | AP

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Freshman Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is opposing a ban on assault weapons sought by President Barack Obama.

A Donnelly spokesman told The Associated Press Wednesday that the Indiana lawmaker will vote against the ban but has not decided whether he would support universal background checks.

Donnelly represents a key bloc of moderate to conservative Democrats the president must win over. The announcement also marks a key early stance from Donnelly just a few months after winning a state that went heavily for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in last year's election.

Donnelly called himself "a strong supporter of the Second Amendment" in a statement issued shortly before the Senate Judiciary Committee opened a hearing featuring testimony from National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

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