As Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation from the Senate, the first one to step forward to offer a hug goodbye was his Minnesota colleague, Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
“I said, ‘I know Paul — Paul was his mentor — Paul’s looking down, listening to you quote him right now,’ ” said Minnesota’s senior Democratic senator, after Franken bowed to mounting calls for his resignation in the face of multiple accusations of sexual harassment.
In his speech Thursday, Franken paid tribute to the late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone, who had inspired him to get into politics in the first place. Some of the issues Franken championed in the Senate, like school mental health programs, had been Wellstone’s issues — and that legacy, she said, will continue after Franken’s time in the Senate ends a few weeks from now.
As for the farewell speech itself, Klobuchar said: “I thought the speech was short. ... I know that he didn’t really apologize to the people and that would have been nice.
“I think the bigger deal for me was that he was able to talk ... with a lot of love for our state, what he liked about his job and what he wanted to be his legacy.”
That legacy, she said, would include Franken’s work on issues like health care and privacy.
But the legacy will also be shadowed by more than half a dozen sexual harassment allegations against Franken. On Wednesday, Klobuchar said, as a seventh accuser came forward and other Senate Democrats began calling for his resignation, she called Franken to privately urge him to do the “right thing” and step down.