Al Franken and his wife Franny are running for US Senate in Minnesota against Norm Coleman. He flew to Denver to tell a few jokes, pick up some checks, and talk about US foreign policy and the War. Franken's greatest plea is to ensure a future Barack Obama presidency comes with a Senate majority of at least 57 democratic senators.
We all know the notable affirmation from Franken's Stuart Smalley Character on SNL: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough - and gosh darn it, people like me." But is he really ready for Washington? Franken's polling numbers show what he called a "decisive one-percent lead" against Coleman who has served in public office on behalf of Minnesotans for 20 years. Coleman is not going to roll over for this guy.
Franken used his fundraiser to press his case and harkened back to the legendary Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN). Well, I knew Paul Wellstone. Wellstone was a friend of mine, and Franken is no Wellstone.
In terms of foreign policy, Franken's primary background, he admitted, is that he had "authors with best-sellers from Iraq" on his Air America radio and satellite program. And if they were "really good authors" on Iraq, he had them back a second time.
Stand-up comedy may, indeed, prepare one for the exigencies of public office but just might not be enough for the US Senate. I asked Franken if he planned to bring a strong economic and international policy agenda if elected - his primary retort was that he just "wants to beat Coleman. We're gonna beat him!"
Here's the deal. Minnesota has brought this country some major democratic champions like Humphrey and Mondale. It has also brought us Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Whatever motivates Franken - and surely his love of the state that brought us the Prairie Home Companion is part and parcel of his candidacy - this campaign seems like another actor jumping from New York and Hollywood (again).
Franken would not stay in Denver. He headed back to the Twin Cities after just one evening fundraiser because he needed to meet people and shake some hands at the Minnesota State Fair. Seems right... the education of Al Franken continues.
See also: Frank Luntz Predicts the Future