Senate candidate Al Franken holds fundraiser in Denver

2008 Democratic National Convention: Day 1
Al Franken, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota, stands on the floor during day one of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) at the Pepsi Center August 25, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The DNC, where U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will be officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for U.S. president, starts today and finishes August 28th.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Al Franken's single fundraiser while he's in Denver is closed to the press.

"We got, you know someone here in Denver hosting us," Franken said. "It's mainly Denver people and some other folks too so it's a normal one of our, you know it's not an unusual fundraising, but we happen to be in Denver so it's a good chance to do that."

Neither Franken nor his campaign staff would say how much money they plan to raise at the law firm.

Unlike several other Democrats running for Senate, Franken will not be addressing the convention. He said he turned down an invitation to appear with the other candidates Wednesday because he wants to get back to the state fair to campaign in Minnesota.

Party leaders flatly reject speculation that Franken isn't speaking to the convention because national Democrats fear aligning themselves with Franken could be politically risky, given Franken's past writings and statements.

Al Franken
U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken and his wife, Franni, attend a breakfast Monday morning for Minnesota delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

"I would sure like to see that schedule that it didn't fit," said Minnesota Super delegate and chairwoman of the Minnesota DFL Feminist Caucus, Jackie Stevenson. "Because had I been a party to it, I would have said hey, wait a minute you've got to do this."

Stevenson said it's hard for her to understand why Franken would turn down a convention speaking opportunity.

Stevenson said she would have told Franken he needed this experience and that he needed to be seen doing this nationally.

Prior to the fundraising and numerous media interviews, Franken found himself the subject of a standing ovation from the Minnesota delegation breakfast meeting, a speaking engagement he did not turn down.

Franken told the Minnesota activists there is a core difference between him and Republican Senator Norm Coleman and between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Mira Vats Fournier
Minnesota delegate Mira Vats Fournier of Faribault, says she thinks Al Franken has a lot of support in rural Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

"They believe that prosperity comes from the top," Franken said. "It's trickle down. They believe that when someone with a couple hundred million dollars builds a, let's pick a number out of the air, a seventh house let's say, that that's what creates prosperity.

"We think that when the middle class is doing well, and you're building millions of houses, that's what makes prosperity."

Some delegates said they agreed with Franken's decision to forgo a few minutes on the podium in favor of state fair campaigning back in Minnesota.

Delegate Mira Vat Fournier of Fairbault said she wasn't about to second guess Franken's decision. Fournier also said she thinks Franken is an asset to the party and hardly the liability in rural Minnesota some Franken detractors insist Franken is.

"He's been to Fairbault several times and he's been there to a packed house every single time so I'm not so sure that rural America or rural Minnesota specifically is not going to support him," Fournier said. "I think they will."

Fournier said it was gratifying to hear former Vice Presidentr Walter Mondale and other party leaders promote Franken's campaign.

Franken said he too was gratified by his reception.

"It's very gratifying," Franken said. "We've come a long way in this race and I feel very good about it and I think they do to. I think they see what's happening. You now these delegates are from all across the state."

While Franken was in Denver Republican Norm Coleman was in St. Paul criticizing Franken for opposing opening up vast areas to increased off-shore oil drilling.

"He is unwilling to do all that must be done, the kitchen-sink approach," Coleman said. "His is a half-hearted effort."

Franken maintains that energy companies should first exercise the drilling rights they already have before they're granted new leases.

Franken will address the California and Massachusetts state delegations Tuesday morning before heading back to Minnesota.