SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Minnesota Sen. Al Franken frequently reflects on his “middle class” upbringing saying it is one of the reasons he is a Democrat, but how ordinary was his childhood?
In a viral Facebook video, Franken describes his childhood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, saying he felt lucky to grow up in the “height of the middle class.”
“We grew up in a two bedroom, one bath house. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world, cause I was,” Franken said. “I was growing up middle class at the height of the middle class, in America, in Minnesota, in St. Louis Park. I thought I could do anything.”
Franken, speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California, said people “don’t feel like that anymore,” blaming the lack of optimism from the middle class for why the Democrats lost the 2016 election.
This is not the first time Franken has described his youth this way. Last month, Franken went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to talk about what Democrats can do to avoid losing more elections, telling the same story about his childhood. However, Franken leaves out some details that paints a different picture.
While growing up, Franken’s home life may have been that of a typical middle class American, he did attend an affluent private school. As Alpha News previously uncovered, Franken was a math and science whiz as a boy. As he approached secondary school years, his parents wanted to find a better school for their gifted student.
Franken ended up attending and graduating from Blake, one of the most exclusive private schools in the Minneapolis area, where the tuition for upperclassmen is currently $29,025 per year. After graduating with honors from the prep-school, Franken went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from the private Ivy League Harvard University.
Despite his upscale education, Franken still contends he lived the typical middle class childhood. However, Franken’s wife, Franni Franken, faced a more challenging childhood than her prep-school graduate husband. Her father, a decorated World War II veteran, died in a car accident when she was eighteen months old, leaving her 29-year-old mother a widow with five kids.
“They made it because of Social Security survivor benefits. Sometimes they were hungry, sometimes they turned the heat off in the winter. But they made it,” Franken said.
Franken’s wife attended Simmons College, a private women’s college in Massachusetts, using scholarships and Pell Grants to afford tuition. Franken credits the government, namely Democrat-sponsored programs, for giving helping his wife’s family become “productive members of society.”
“That’s why I am a Democrat. They tell you in this country you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But first you have to have boots,” Franken said, almost moved to tears. “The government gave my wife’s family the boots.”
Watch a clip of Franken’s address to the Commonwealth Club below: