Al Franken has officially announced his run for Senate in 2008 and produced this video announcement:
As much as it pains me to say it, this was probably one of the better campaign announcements I’ve ever seen.
Franken’s not a dumb guy. He knows that the meticulously polished, scripted, and controlled campaign speeches that everyone else does won’t fly for him. So instead, he chose to be conversational, sounding like he’s just sitting down and explaining himself. The fact that it sounds so unscripted (and I’m presuming that it really is) helps sell Franken as a viable candidate.
Franken explains his liberalism in a way that’s conversational and appealing. If this is the only Al Franken we get during the campaign, Senator Coleman is going to have one hell of a job keeping his seat.
Franken’s big problem is that the Al Franken we see in this announcement is not the real Al Franken. As Ed Morrissey explains:
Despite being a Minnesota native, he seems far too obnoxious to gain a following in this state. People here talk about Minnesota Nice, where people remain pleasant and mind their manners even when they encounter unpleasantness. Franken is the opposite, attacking his political opponents in mean-spirited, schoolyard epithets. That might sell in New York, where Franken lived most of his adult life, although he seems a little too strong even for the Big Apple, but that kind of temperament will only appeal to the most hard-core, left-wing voters in this state.
Sooner or later, that Al Franken will come out. If the only side of him we see is the side he displays in this announcement, I’d give him good odds at winning. However, there’s a world of difference between sitting down in front of a camera and speaking and having to deal with the rough-and-tumble world of politics. Franken is an actor, he knows how to play a role, but politics is different than Saturday Night Live.
Still, I will give Franken this, his announcement was excellent. He and his advisors crafted a powerful message, and Franken made it work. It gives him the level of respectability that he needs to get his campaign off the ground. Ultimately, I don’t think it will be enough, but Franken has demonstrated that he has the ability to be a great communicator. In terms of political rhetoric, Franken just hit his first home run. It may not win him the game, but it certainly puts him off to a strong start.