Rand Paul's Strange Alliance With Al Franken

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 4 2011 3:31 PM

Rand Paul's Strange Alliance With Al Franken

On first read, this story about Rand Paul taking on Al Franken as a mentor seems like odd micro-news. On second read, it still seems like micro-news. But on a third read!

While Franken and Paul may not have much political common ground, they have struck up one of the more unlikely bonds of the 112th Congress.

Franken’s spokesman Ed Shelleby said Franken talked with Paul about things that he found helpful as a new senator, when the Minnesota Democrat was thrown into the Senate mid-year following his recount court battle. Paul and Franken also "continued their conversation about areas they might work on together."

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This is odd because Paul has mostly patched up relations with Mitch McConnell -- he defeated McConnell's not-so-secret choice for the Senate seat last year -- but Franken has irritated McConnell personally. Last summer, McConnell dressed down Franken after the senator appeared to be mocking the leader from the president's chair. Paul's media strategy is nothing like Franken's. Paul appears frequently on CNN and on national news shows (that awkward 2010 interview on MSNBC aside). Franken avoids most national media, and in Congress he talks to Minnesota reporters and a few other select sources. (He once ended a conversation with a Star Trib reporter because me and a Daily Caller reporter were approaching to talk, and could clearly hear what he was saying.) Franken's followed the Hillary Clinton-esque head down/avoid spotlight strategy, as Marco Rubio has.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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