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Franken cries on Senate Floor

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) began crying on the Senate floor Thursday during a speech advocating the passage of the Violence Against Women Act when he invoked the memory of former Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and his wife Sheila. 

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Wellstone, a liberal legend in the Senate, died in a plane crash over a decade ago while campaigning in Minnesota. His wife also died in the crash. 

Throughout his speech, Franken referenced the senator and his wife’s work for victims of domestic violence. He said Sheila Wellstone said protecting people from domestic violence was part of a “just society.”  

Quoting Sheila Wellstone, Franken said, “we have to work towards an ethic that respects every individual to be physically and emotionally safe … In a just society, I think we need to say this over, and over and over, we are not going to tolerate the violence.”

Supporting the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Franken said, “is another step towards a more just society as Sheila described it.”

Franken said he and his wife looked at the example of the Wellstones when Franken decided to run for the Senate. 

He said their legacy is a “reminder of what public service is all about, it's about helping others, it's about giving a voice to those who otherwise might go unheard. It’s about making the law more just and more fair especially for those who need its protections the most.”