The UNH College Democrats welcomed former Saturday Night Live (SNL) writer and current Minnesota Senator Al Franken on Thursday, Nov. 3 and hosted him in room 233 of the Memorial Union Building (MUB) as he continued his campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. A relatively small crowd of College Democrats gathered as Franken outlined his endorsement of the Democratic candidate. His speech lasted approximately 15 minutes, during which he stressed the importance of voting in a race so tight for both the Senate and the presidency.
Though the Durham campus has had several renowned individuals campaign for Clinton, Franken differs in his first-hand experience of the reality of running in a tight race. In fact, he referred to himself as the “poster child for close elections” during his speech.
“I won my first senate race by 312 votes,” Franken said. As someone who won by such a narrow margin, Franken knows personally that every vote counts, which explains his incentive to target college campuses in order to spread the message of his campaign.
Franken next outlined his reasons for endorsing Clinton, the most unique being that he has known the former secretary for 23 years.
“I know she is the hardest working, smartest and toughest person I have ever met,” Franken said.
He said that he believes the origin of her values comes from her religious upbringing as a Methodist. The bulk of his speech focused around Clinton and her incentives as secretary, such as working for the Children’s Defense Fund after law school, her efforts in integrating schools in the south to ensure children with disabilities could go to school, and, as first lady, trying to get universal healthcare.
His compliments mostly focused on Clinton’s work as secretary of state, which primarily dealt with helping children and families.
“When children and families do well, America does well. So that’s why I’m supporting her,” Franken said.
Although his speech mostly focused around why he thought Clinton was fit to be president, Franken also used his time to share some of his thoughts on Clinton’s opposing candidate, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“Trump has no knowledge on public policy,” Franken said. “He doesn’t know how to fix the tax code. He’s just someone who is ripping off the system.”
Recognizing his predominantly millennial crowd, Franken vocalized that Clinton is more “open-minded” than the opposing Republican candidate about issues that impact our immediate future, such as climate change and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, which he claimed Trump and his followers are “hostile” about.
Meanwhile, Franken also utilized his time to campaign for senator candidate Maggie Hassan.
“She has a helpful plan to refinance public debt,” he said.
Among the relatively small crowd present at the speech was freshman political science major and UNH College Democrats member Elias Tyrrel-Walker.
“[Franken] is one of the best representatives in the senate,” Tyrrel-Walker said. “This discussion is happening not too long before the election so I hope we are all getting fired up.”
Another student present was freshman political science and international affairs major and UNH College Democrats member Hannah Machado.
“[Franken] put a lot of emphasis on getting out to vote,” Machado said. “I think it is very important to vote in a battleground state such as New Hampshire.”
The former humor writer for SNL admitted that he has more anxiety than humor in regard to the upcoming election.
“Most importantly, I just don’t want students waking up on the morning of Nov. 9 wishing they could have done more,” Franken said.
Your vote is your voice. Practice your civic duty and make your voice heard on Nov. 8, Wildcats!
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