Clinton urges Minn. Democrats to vote Frankenby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio,
Patrick Condon, Associated Press
Senator Hillary Clinton told a wildly enthusiastic crowd in Minneapolis, Al Franken could be the 60th vote in the Senate that would allow Democrats to block Republican filibusters.
Minneapolis — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told Minnesota Democrats they must do more than just elect Barack Obama if they want to end what she calls "the Bush era."
Clinton appeared at the U of M's McNamara Alumni center before some 1,500 people. Clinton told the crowd she's known Franken for years and she urged Franken supporters to see out undecided voters and convince them to vote for Franken.
"So on this election I hope you will do all you can to make sure that Al Franken joins Amy Klobuchar and President Barack Obama to deliver the change that America is looking for," Clinton said.
Clinton also praised Franken's previous work as a liberal satirist. She said he was battling the vast right-wing conspiracy before some people admitted that it existed.
"I know Al and I know he'll make you proud," Clinton said. "He'll hit the ground running for Minnesota, following in the footsteps of historic progressive champions like someone both Al and I still revere, the late Paul Wellstone."
Clinton said 60 votes in the Senate would allow Democrats to pass universal health care, make investments in creating manufacturing jobs, cut tax breaks for oil and pharmaceutical companies and pass an energy plan that creates "green jobs."
In recent days, Franken's Republican opponent, Sen. Norm Coleman, has also started telling voters that if he loses that would likely mean Democrats get to 60 votes in the Senate. Coleman, needless to say, wants voters to view that as a bad thing.
"I think Minnesotans have to decide if that's what they want," Coleman said earlier this week on a campaign swing through southwestern Minnesota. "That's one of the stakes in the election, and I think it's fair to raise it."
Clinton and Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" comedian and author, spoke warmly of each other at the University of Minnesota rally; Franken said the two first met shortly after Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992.
Clinton praised Franken, author of books including "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot," for "taking on the vast right-wing conspiracy before a lot of people admitted it existed" - a reference to her own late-'90s term for a network of conservative activists and commentators that she felt persecuted her husband.
"He never sank to their level of those attacking him, but he shed light on their tactics," Clinton said of Franken.
Franken suggested that increasing the number of Democrats in Washington could lead to a return to Clinton-era prosperity.
"You remember the Clinton presidency?" Franken asked. "Inheriting the largest deficit in history and passing on the largest surplus? Twenty-three million new jobs? Remember that?"
"Vaguely," shouted a man in the crowd.
"I'll do the jokes, sir," Franken replied, to laughter from the audience.
Following the U of M event, Franken and Clinton headed to the Iron Range town of Hibbing to rally support for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Another New Yorker, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is in the state on Thursday to campaign for Franken's opponent, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
- All Things Considered, 10/21/2008, 5:45 p.m.