POLITICS
12/29/2017 09:23 EST | Updated 12/29/2017 13:35 EST

Al Franken Makes First Public Speech Since Announcing His Resignation

Franken is expected to resign on Jan. 2 amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

An emotional Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) thanked his supporters and friends during a speech in Minneapolis Thursday night, in what is expected to be one of his final public appearances as a senator.

“Serving the people of Minnesota in the United States Senate has been the honor of my life, and I’m here tonight to say thank you,” Franken told the crowd. 

The speech was Franken’s first public appearance since announcing his plans to resign after eight women accused him of various instances of sexual harassment and misconduct over the years. Earlier this month, dozens of Franken’s Democratic colleagues called on him to resign because of the allegations.

“Let me be clear,” he said Thursday. “I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice.”

Franken, who has said he will resign in early January, was met with applause during his 20-minute speech, in which he thanked close colleagues and his wife. He also discussed the things he was able to accomplish in office.  

“When I think about the last decade or so of my life through the lens of the people I’ve met, the people I’ve had the privilege to work alongside of, the people whose lives I’ve had the honor [of] fighting to improve, I feel hopeful for the future of our country,” he told the crowd.

Franken did not mention the sexual harassment allegations in his speech. 

“I feel proud to call this state my home and to call so many of you my friends,” he said. “I feel grateful beyond words for the support that you have shown me and for the trust that you have placed in me and for the chance you took on me.”

A recent survey from Public Policy Polling showed that 50 percent of Minnesotan voters don’t believe Franken should resign, while 42 percent believe he should. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) appointed Lieutenant Gov. Tina Smith (D) to fill Franken’s Senate seat until a special election can be held next year. 

Watch Franken’s full speech below.