Trump trolls Al Franken on home turf of Minnesota, sends a message to swing vote Manchin
President Trump loves to throw his opponents off balance, and he knows how to leverage circumstance to pressure people to make the decisions he wants from them. Last night, speaking to an overflow crowd in Rochester, Minnesota's Mayo Civic Center (capacity: 7,200), with thousands in an overflow room and many thousands more gathered outside, he mocked former senator Al Franken for folding "like a wet rag" when accused of sexual impropriety. But there was an audience far away from the world-famous mecca for top-shelf medicine and dairy farm countryside that was one of his targets. It was a fascinating moment that the enthusiastic crowd ate up:
It is no secret at all that plenty of Democrats, even a feminist New York Times columnist, have had second thoughts about forcing him from office. Among them, as Politico reported shortly after his resignation, is Joe Manchin:
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who urged Franken not to step down to begin with – at least not before he went through an Ethics Committee investigation – said the Minnesota senator was railroaded by fellow Democrats.
"What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats," said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in an interview for POLITICO's Off Message podcast.
Franken himself has discreetly maintained silence, a wise choice. But he must be bitter over his fall from grace amid the early-stage #MeToo witch hunt. It is still forbidden for any Democrat politician to admit that there may have been excesses in flinging unsubstantiated accusations and expecting people to own up to bad behavior they think they did not commit. Franken, after all, denied any misbehavior, but he faced an accuser who had photo evidence of Franken pretending to assault her for a joke.
By mocking his "wet rag" stance, Trump implicitly endorsed the intestinal fortitude of Brett Kavanaugh and showed up Franken as a man without a spine.
Trump also mocked the appointed successor for Franken's seat, former lieutenant governor Tina Smith, as someone whose name he barely recognizes. Smith faces a special election in November to fill out the remainder of Franken's term and has a small lead (RCP rolling average of 6.7%) over state senator Karen Housely.