AUSTIN (Nexstar) — United States Senator Al Franken, D-Minnesota, walked out to a standing ovation at one of the opening presentations at the Texas Tribune Festival 2017.
As he sat down, Franken, waving down the applause, said, “Save it for the end.”
The former Saturday Night Live comedian and writer said it can be “excruciating” not to tell jokes as a senator. Promoting his book Al Franken: Giant in the Senate, he shared stories about his nearly 10 years in Congress.
“Is it as much fun being a senator as it was working on Saturday Night Live? The answer is no. Why would it be?” Franken said in a one-on-one interview with KXAN before the event. “But, it’s the best job I’ve ever had, because I get to do things and improve people’s lives.”
Franken had much to say about the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“Republicans have been saying that they are going to repeal and replace for the last eight years, and they really haven’t been able to come up with anything,” Franken said. “Every iteration of this has had the support of between like 12 and 17 percent of the American people.”
He said he did not support what’s known as the Graham-Cassidy bill.
“I hope this fails and I hope that after it does, we are going to go back to what John McCain was talking about, which was working together to address the problems that we have in this country and to help our economy and that of course is what we need to do in order to help people live good, solid, middle-class lives,” he said.
During the hour-plus talk in front of a crowd of 1,200, Franken poked fun at both Texas Republican senators.
“John Cornyn and I have done good things together, (but) don’t vote for him,” he said as the crowd roared.
For what people “need to know” about Ted Cruz, Franken joked, “I probably like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues like Ted Cruz, and I hate Ted Cruz.”
Both Cruz and Cornyn are scheduled to speak at the festival’s closing event on Sunday, when they will likely be asked about Franken’s comments.
Franken also discussed President Donald Trump’s immigration proposals, including a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
“Considering what has happened in Texas here with Harvey and what happened with Irma and what’s happened in Puerto Rico, there is no appetite to pay $25 billion or whatever it is for this wall,” Franken said.
The SNL alum was asked about a possible presidential run as well.
“No, I do not want to be president,” Franken said. “I think that the President of the United States should be someone who wants to be president.”
“I like my job now,” he added, “and I want to continue doing that job.”