Al Franken, who my lady friend likes because he “looks like a turtle,” is also a candidate seeking the DFL nomination to run for Senate in Minnesota. He appeared on Minnesota Public Radio’s show “Midday” for their Meet the Candidates series. Franken spoke on many topics, ranging from Iran and Iraq, to gay marriage and global warming.
Most of the conversation covered three topics, Iraq, global warming, and Franken’s never waning disdain for Norm Coleman, the incumbant Senator Franken hopes to challenge.
Franken advocates beginning a withdrawal from Iraq immediately. When asked why he supports such a policy, he spoke about a few different topics. He seemed to agree with the belief that America is in the middle of a civil war in Iraq. Franken also said that withdrawal is the only leverage we have over the al-Maliki government, who has been slow to drive political progress. He also acknowledged the surge has lowered violence, but was quick to point out that 2007 was the #1 year for fatalities among Americans. Here’s a quote that summed up his views on the war pretty well: “We lost 37 people last month, and that’s 37 too many.
At every point he could, Franken interjected that Coleman has voted for “blank checks” for Bush, and has been a “cheerleader” for the war since its conception.
He criticized the Bush Administrations approach to Iran. He said, reffering to the recently release National Intelligence Estimate that stated Iran stopped it’s nuclear weapons program three years ago, that, “We have time, if we use it, for patient diplomacy.” He recommends speaking with Iran, as well as other counties in the region such as Syria and Saudi Arabia. Franken chastised the administration for being, “bellicose,” or too eager to fight and too hostile towards Iran.
Domestically, he expressed his dismay on how the United States was handling global warming. His main focus was on how our economy could be transformed if we shifted production to alternative forms of energy. Minnesota should be a leader in wind, biofuel, and other alternative energies in his opinion. He found another spot to criticize Coleman, quoting him as saying, Paul Wellstone, a former MN Senator, was an “extremist” for wanting 18% of our energy to come from renewables. Of course, the United States Congress has recently passed legislation seting a goal of 25% renewables by 2025 nationally.
Gay marriage was also a topic discussed at length. Franken came out, (I’m so funny) in favor of legalizing same sex marriage, saying, “I think this is the last civil rights issue.” Franken also emphatically expressed his frustration that in approximately 30 states it is still legal to fire an employee simply for being homosexual. He said this is the most important issue relating to the GLBT community. He also said that two men getting married was indeed not a “threat” to his marriage or straight marriages in general, as some has asserted, citing the divorce rate in Massachusetts, the only state which has legalized same sex marriage, as the lowest in the country.
Franken also reiterated his support for legalized abortion, saying he would, “most likely” vote against a Supreme Court nominee who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.
It seems Norm Coleman, who has been outpaced by Franken in the fund raising arena, may have a bitter challenge ahead of him. Although in May, Franken was polled at as many as 22 points behind Coleman, a recent SurveyUSA poll has the two in a statistical tie. As Franken has begun to speak publicly about his positions and issues, he has become more viable as a candidate. His chances and poll numbers will only increase over the next few months, because he is not afraid to call out Coleman for past wrongs, and his progressive leaning politics, especially on the war and universalizing health care, should be well received by his Minnesota audience.