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Sen. Al Franken talks Trump, SNL and 2020

Harwood: So, in some way, the voters have adjusted to you, Trump, and other politicians as political fashion changes.

Franken: Wait a minute. You lumped me in with Trump? Take that back. Take that back, John Harwood. You’re not taking it back.

Harwood: I’m just saying voters get conditioned to what they see in front of them in politics.

Franken: Well, no. One of the reasons that I comfortably won the second time is they saw that I worked very hard, paid attention to them, to Minnesotans, and paid attention to policy and did my work. Donald Trump is the opposite. He doesn’t work. He doesn’t know how policy works. He won’t do his homework. He refuses to work on anything that matters. So, I consider myself a polar opposite of him. I mean, I really do.

And the fact that we are both in a branch of show business — he was in reality TV. A human cannonball was in show business, you know? A rodeo clown’s in show business.

Harwood: I know you are not planning to run for president. But other people are talking about it. How do you think about that issue?

Franken: Well, people have brought it up, but I think they bring it up about a lot of people. I think that the president of the United States should be someone who really wants to be president of the United States. I’ve seen the job a little bit more up close as a senator than I did as a comedian. I can see what an incredibly high-pressured job it is. And it’s not something that I’ve aspired to ever.

Harwood: But you’re not saying straight-up there is zero chance you’re going to do that.

Franken: There’s pretty much a zero chance, I think, I mean, unless, you know, I get hit in the head,

Harwood: Your colleague, Sen. [Amy] Klobuchar, is in the same position. Do you talk to her about this?

Franken: I feel like this is something I don’t want to — I just don’t broach with her.

Harwood: We’ve got — a celebrity-driven culture. And people are very used to back and forth between politicians. So I wonder if you think that humor provides a different dimension that would be valuable either for you or for somebody else running for president?

Franken: Yeah. I think a sense of humor is great in life. You know, I’m funny. And I’ve bonded with all my colleagues.

Harwood: So, it’s valuable.

Franken: Yeah, it’s valuable. Your life would be better if you got a sense of humor, John.

Harwood: I’m workin’ on it.

I concluded from your book that you remain a little bit irritated with Obama and the distance that he kept from you in 2008.

Franken: Not really. I know it might sound like that. I was a little peeved because I clearly was the closest race that year in 2008. But I can understand better now why he didn’t.

Harwood: Even after the election when you were trying to raise money for your recount?

Franken: That, I still — I don’t know who to fault for that, him or his team.

Harwood: Have you talked to the president about it?

Franken: I have not. And I hope to. I hope to because I know he’ll probably see it in the book. I had to raise, like, $13 million for the recount. People might say, “What?” Well, it was lawyers.

And he was, like, high-60s [approval rating]. All he had to do was put on a tux and, boom, $3 million, you know? That would be a lot of call time. By the way, I think he was a great president.

Harwood: When you were doing [Sen.] Paul Simon [on Saturday Night Live], did you want to be Paul Simon?

Franken: No. I did not want to run for the Senate, really, until Norm Coleman said he was a 99 percent improvement over Paul Wellstone.


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