Al Franken goes to Washington?

As Curt informed you, Al Franken stopped by the U today to deliver his stump to the students. After stressing to the kids in attendence how important they are to the progressive/Democratic cause, he jumped right into why he should be elected instead of Norm Coleman, and what he would do once he gets to Washington.

He started by emphasizing his middle class roots, something almost every polititian tries to do. However, this led to a fantastic anecdote about how his wife, Frannie, lost her father before she was two years old, and Frannie’s single mother, with only a highschool education, had to raise five children. He then explained how Frannie went to college using Pell Grants and other scholarships, along with help from Social Security Survivor Benefits. He informed the students that Pell Grants used to pay for about 90% of college expenses while now that number is closer to 40%. This story contained the  best line of his speech; In America we all believe that people should pull themselves up by their boot straps, “but Frannie didn’t have the boots.”

Education was not surprisingly one of Franken’s main topics. He also spoke about his views on the War in Iraq. He emphasized on multiple occasions that we had been “lied into the war,” referring to the multiple explinations the current administration came up with to justify the war (ties to terror, weapons of mass destruction, spreading democracy). Franken advocated beginning withdrawls responsibly and quickly. Also, he suggested the U.S. open dialogue with the nations surrounding Iraq, such as Syria and Jordan, saying they both do not want Iraq to fall apart. Both countries have “more than 1 million Iraqi refugees,” Franken stated.

His most direct attacks on his Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, were directed at his loyalty to the White House, and his position on raising benefits for returning veterans. Coleman voted agiainst raising benefits for veterans “9 times,” Franken accused. He also reitterated that Coleman was chosen personally by Dick Cheney to run against Paul Wellstone in 2002, emphasizing the closeness between Coleman and the White House.

Franken’s broad theme was that America needed to restore its image as a competent leader in the world. He cited Iraq and the Bush administrations stance on global warming as reasons this image was lost. He told students that we could save the world, by addressing global warming, just like his generation “saved the world,” during the Cold War.

Afterwords, while I was recieving an autograph, Franken described possible ways to fund some of the projects, like the need for universal health care and inceased education funding, he spoke about. These ways included repealing the Bush tax cuts to wealth Americans, reducing the immense defense budget the United States has (which is larger than the next 14 highest countries combined), and stopping production and funding of nuclear weapons.

Franken was a great speaker. While he talked he was frequently interrupted by laughter and applause. While this speech today would probably not win over many moderates or independents, he realized he was talking to progessive college students, and it seemed he was attempting to turn out his base for the important caucus on February 5th. While I do not know much about his opponent for the Democratic nomination, Mike Cerisi, Franken seems genuinely progressive and genuinely honest about wanting to help America and America’s citizens.

And his laugh makes me smile.

Here is Franken’s campaign page.


2 Responses

  1. Franken received an autograph? From whom?

    All kidding aside, it’s good to see he’s taking this seriously. I always felt uneasy about both him and Cerisi.

  2. oh scott, you always find my little poopers.

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