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Bill Clinton presses Minn. to elect Franken

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Clinton and Franken
Former President Bill Clinton was in Minneapolis for a rally to support Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Senate candidate Al Franken.
MPR Photo/Caroline Yang

About 4,000 people wildly cheered Bill Clinton who made, what he said, was a  "heart felt" spiel for sending Al Franken to Washington.  

Clinton called Franken a friend, and a loyal Democrat who would make a very good Senator.

"He doesn't just have the right rhetoric, I mean he's given you a very serious campaign. You know his opponent made fun of his previous career as a comedian, but what I think what's comical is how much more serious and substantive Al Franken's campaign for the Senate has been than the campaign of his opponent," Clinton said.

Clinton criticized Sen. Norm Coleman for switching political parties, saying  political opportunism, not policy differences, drove Coleman's decision to leave Democrats in favor of the GOP in the mid 1990's.

In contrast Clinton suggested that Franken has proven brave for the way he has stood up to Republican attacks since he got into the race more than a year and a half ago.

"I don't know about you, but I admire the way he has put up with the ridicule to which he has been subject and the cheap shots to which he has been subject and he just keeps talking about you and your life and our common future."

From speaker to speaker, a common theme ran throughout last night's rally -- it's not enough to elect Obama, Democrat after Democrat said, voters must also stack the Senate with enough Democrats to block GOP filibusters that could threaten Obama's agenda. 

"What does that have to do with Al Franken? I'll tell you why. Because his opponent supported every single thing President Bush wanted to do with the economy, wants to keep this totally regressive tax program and is against doing anything meaningful on health care and all these other issues so if you vote for Obama and you don't elect Franken then the Republicans that are left in the Congress will say, 'Wow! We dodged a bullet,'" Clinton said.

In addition to promoting Franken, Clinton spoke highly of presidential candidate Barack Obama.  Clinton cited Obama's choice of Joe Biden for his running mate and Obama's politically risky support for the Wall Street Bailout.

Franken has been a vocal opponent of that bailout. Franken often likens it's quick approval to what he refers to as the rush to war in Iraq.

There were several emotional references to former Sen. Paul Wellstone at last night's rally and calls to take back Wellstone's seat.  Wellstone died six years ago in a plane crash prior to Coleman's defeat of Walter Mondale in the Senate election.

"Paul Wellstone said, the future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard, passionate and work hard.  Who are passionate and work hard. I am so passionate. I am so passionate," said Al Franken.

Franken predicted the Senate race will be a close one

Rally speakers from the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Vice President Walter Mondale and Bill Clinton urged attendees to work hard to not only convince people to vote Democrat but also to make sure they make it to the polls on Tuesday.