Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

Repub ad dredges up footage of Franken "being" Wellstone

Repeating a tasteless deception that was already exposed during the Minnesota Senate campaign, the National Republican Senatorial Committee this morning released a new web video that uses footage designed to make Al Franken look like a crazed attack dog without disclosing that the footage actually shows Franken telling an endearing story about Paul Wellstone and his son.

Here's the new NRSC ad:


Here's the problem: during the campaign, Franken used to tell this story about how, when Wellstone's son David was a high school cross-country runner, Paul Wellstone used to run alongside his son over the final leg of the race, jumping and gesticulating and encouraging his son to pass the runner in front of him with the phrase "you can take this guy, you can take him!"

When he told the story (often, apparently) Franken would jump up and down and swing his arms portraying the legendary Wellstonian enthusiasm. When the Norm Coleman campaign wanted to portray Franken as a crazed attack dog, they used the footage in an ad, with the sound off. Franken aired a reply ad, which showed the footage with the sound on, in context, so it was clearly an homage to the late senator. Here's that very effective Franken rebuttal ad:


If you go back to the new NRSC video, you can see it's the same footage. You can even read Franken's lips saying "you can take this guy." But, of course, for their current purposes, NRSC makes it appear that this is just the way Franken looks when he's excited, who knows what he might do on the Senate floor?

I sought a comment from NRSC spokester Brian Walsh, who isn't disputing that the footage comes from the Franken-doing-Wellstone stories. Walsh referred me to this statement:

“It’s surprising that the Democrats would take offense at some inaudible b-roll of Al Franken leftover from last cycle. I’d argue we were more respectful than we could have been considering some of the other photos of Al Franken taken over the years that might have been used as b-roll instead. We’ll certainly consider substituting it for this one if they would prefer though.”

The "this one" photo, also apparently a fake.

Spokester Walsh also said: "We'd like to thank the Democrats for ensuring that our web video is receiving so much coverage today."

The rest of the NRSC video is also pretty amazing. The clear meaning is that the Republicans are conceding control of the entire U.S. government for the next year and a half. The message is: Anything that goes wrong is the Democrats' fault, because they now have a 60-vote Senate majority (to go with a big House majority and control of the White House.)

"They own everything, and have no one to blame now," says the ad about the Democrats. "Their taxes. Their record deficits. Their failed economy."

Apparently the NRSC missed the memo about the new bipartisanship and has decided that share of responsibility for the nation's problems may have carried over from previous Congresses and administrations has now expired.

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Comments (18)

Who's memo on the new bipartisanship? Yours. The House takes zero input from Republican on new legislation.

I'd say that the blame game is only sauce for the gander. Dems have more political control in Washington than Bush ever did. The bills that are being passed in a mighty rush are Dem bills and are/will be signed by a Dem president. Why in the world would we not hold Dems responsible for their results?
Yes, the world didn't start on Jan 20 and there is obviously some lag time but the clock has to start at some point. Keeping in mind the Dem control of both houses of congress since 2006 and I don't think it's irresponsible to ask them to stand up for their own work.

The prior 2 comments overlook 2-3 things. Bush always had veto power and the Supreme court isconservative. Yes I know months are an eternity in political time but not in reality.

I'd consider rationing the outrage if I were a Democrat.

This is only Day 1 of Franken's circus act, and the legitimate national media is already chock-a-block with fresh exposure of dated Franken buffoonery (check out today's Washington Post coverage..ha!).

Just wait until Minnesota's New York Senator clotheslines his first victim to the Senate floor.

It's going to be a very looooong tenure, kiddies; and when it comes to outrageous and bizarre behavior, Al Franken is the gift that just keeps giving.

I would love to see Mr. Swift provide some examples of Al Franken's "outrageous and bizarre behavior." Preferably something from this century, and not from his SNL days.

Dan, I was careful to use the word 'political' in my description of the power that Dems now have. And since the Dems have veto power right now, I'm not sure how that takes away from my point at all. For good or ill, the Dems are in power and deserve the credit and blame that goes with that.

SCHIP would have passed in 2007 had Bush not been in power.

Eric, your last paragraph is an embarrassment that only a partisan could write. While you think you're making a logical statement, you NEVER would have written such a paragraph in any era controlled by Republicans.

Mr. Gisleson: Go find Franken's Air America archives and you'll find plenty of bizarre behavior.

Seriously, when is MinnPost going to officially change it's name to MinnKos? There is not even an attempt at the slightest political and ideological balance outside of the occasional guest opinion piece.

Mr. Stych: if it's so easy to find examples of Al's outrageous behavior, why don't you provide us with some? Or is this, as I'm guessing, simply a matter of labeling most Democratic policies as "bizarre"?

Maybe Al can earn his "cred" by retiring half way through his term a la Palin, or maybe by bedding an Argentinian he met by tap dancing in the airport men's room.

I grew up Republican, but I don't recognize today's Dixie fried party of talk radio connoisseurs and name callers. Everything I found objectionable about the Democratic party in the '60s has migrated to the Republican party of the '00s.

Ed, your right wing friends can easily form an alternative to Minnpost. You have the money, the same old soundbites repeated endlessly over and over (which sure are dam boring and unconvincing). Just git yerselves a big enuf literate audience and you'll be out standing in your field or in hawg heaven or maybe both.
Seriously though I wish we could get back to some consensus politic not necessarily united we stand or reigniting the cold war. But to make such ridicule of your country when we are going through the named near depression with all the attendadent suffering and there is blame enough to go around to both parties but I do not curse either one.

Again the moral bankruptcy of the Republicans rears it ugly head. It's simple guys, if your ideas and observations are sooooooo good why do you have to try to trick people into accepting them? Why do yo have to lie and deliberately mislead people? If Franken is really that bad why can't you find real examples? Why do you have to distort the record rather than refer to it? Using doctored and decontextualized photos and videos is dishonest, why can't you make your case honestely?

Paul, they do what they do the way that they do it because they love Rush Limbaugh; and since he has been so successful over the years then it must be the right way to do politics. Facts are unimportant, discourse is unimportant, solving problems is unimportant. Ridiculing your political opponents is the important thing (and then taking false umbrage when your opponents return fire.)

Until the righties are ready to denounce Limbaugh, they have no credibility in complaining about getting a taste of their own medicine (an more wittily at that,) from Al Franken's tenure on Air America.

Mike, you're right. And we all know that Dems would never stoop to ad hominem attacks or use images in a misleading way. Ridiculing opponents is solely the realm of the awful righties.
Best of all, this conversation is happening because Minnesota Dems elected a red meat throwing pundit. Seriously, you couldn't make this up!

The Dems do not "control" the Congress, but do have a better chance to enact legislation that when the Republicans held both houses: changed the rules as needed to get things passed; broke the rules (see 3-4 hour session instead of the legal 15 minutes to get Medicare Part D shoved through the House);added "goodies" for corporate buddies during the night after conference committee reviews (although Dems were usually not even allowed to sit on conference committees)-- a la Dr./Senator Frist who added indemnity from liability for manufacturers to a bill covering new vaccines-- and before the vote in the morning; and a White House that "informed" Congress of its activities by telling only the Republicans, etc etc etc.

Want to thank the GOP for its contribution to the level of politicial discourse in MN aand the USA. No, not really! Its rank dishonesty and hamhanded efforts at character assassination distract from the important issues a hand. Judging from comments thus far offered, the Republicans have learned nothing from the 08 election campaign. America is not interested in deceptive political ads in the midst of recession, war and failing systems.

On bipartisanship:
Where? Not in our city, county, state, or national political scene. Not now, and not EVER! There ARE no "good old days."

I've been around for well over half a century, and my relaxation is found in reading American history. Bipartisanship, whenever it is used in American politics means "Now that we have the power, y'all should do everything OUR way."

Even listening to the other side NEVER happens unless the vote is too close to call.

Times when debate was more cerebral or sophisticated? Perhaps, but not often. Too many instances of physical altercations on the floor, instead.

Read the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and see how the slurs proliferate -- from both sides. And they were "business as usual."

Mean spirited, slanted, spun, distorted comments have been the general order of the political day in our country, and we seem to like it.

And each time the side that is stung by the comments cries out about how dishonest, unfair, partisan, or vicious it all is - particularly if the smears have a ring of truth to them.

My response: Ho, hum. Nice to see the commenters above (including EB at times) carrying on a grand old American tradition.

Some advice from an old codger: Just don't take it too seriously, and you'll be fine.

I will be joyful if Senator Franken lives up to the legacy of Senator Wellstone. The courage of Senator Wellstone to stand against aggressive acts of war (the Iraq War) that have cost our nation dearly in thousands of lost and altered lives of soldiers, their families and communities and has indebted my sons generation through its cost is a will rarely seen. He was the only Senator standing for re-election to do so.

I hope that Senator Franken will uphold Senator Wellstone's passion and values-"When We All Do Better, We All Do Better."

"Eleanor and I HATE Wah" said FDR. I remember.

So we had to wait until thousands died at Pearl Harbor before we committed the lives of half a million GIs in WW II.

And we had to later hear about millions of Jewish people murdered for simply being born.

We made some mistakes in VietNam. And some in Iraq. But not in Panama, or Korea, or Haiti. We saved lives in many places at the expense of our own. We have fallen short in the African countries.

While I believe it is true that usually our actions are motivated by our economic or security interests, we are a nation that concerns itself with the oppressed anywhere in the world, and that is not a bad thing.

While I regard war as a part of the heritage of Cain and Abel, so long as the world is the way it is, I cannot join the chorus of those who sing "Peace at any price."

If I were an oppressed dissident in Iran right now, or a person starving in North Korea, I would be praying for the US to reach the end of its patience and come to my assistance.