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Al Franken takes tentative step back into public limelight with healthcare podcast

The former senator has been quiet since stepping down amid inappropriate conduct allegations.

It's been a quiet year for Al Franken since stepping down from his Senate seat in controversial circumstances after he was accused of inappropriate behavior.

But now he is taking his first tentative steps back into public debate in the form of a new healthcare podcast that went live this week.

Franken shared it to his Facebook page on Monday, a few days after writing a Thanksgiving message in which he vowed to continue to "listen and learn" about women's experiences in modern day U.S.A. and admitting he missed "being in the fight every day."

With his healthcare podcast, Franken starts off by noting that when he left the Senate, "I said I was giving up my seat but not my voice, and after the mid-term elections I thought I'd start experimenting with ways to make my voice heard."

He followed this up with a quip: "By the way I want to thank everyone who voted in the mid-terms no matter who you voted for, and of course I do not mean that."

Healthcare was the number one issue among Democrats in the most recent mid-terms, which Franken said was the result of people realizing what they stood to lose when the Republican-controlled Congress attempted to strip away the protections of Obamacare.

This, he says, meant that the Democrats did a "very bad job of explaining the ACA (Affordable Care Act) in the first place."

There remains mixed sentiment on the left about the way Franken left the Senate.

He was one of the most popular and well-known senators, and he still has supporters who feel he was treated too harshly, arguing that some of his Democratic colleagues called for his resignation too soon given there had been no time for a Senate investigation into the allegations made by several women of inappropriate touching.

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But there are also many who believe that Franken's resignation was right for the Democrats and the wider #MeToo movement, with this piece in Slate saying Democrats should be thanking senators who called on him to resign for saving the party's reputation "among young voters who have plenty of reasons to think Democrats are just as corrupt and sleazy as Republicans."

Slate's piece comes in the wake of high youth turnout in the November mid-terms, which proved to be key in the "blue wave" that swept the Democrats to control of the House.

While Franken said in his Thanksgiving message that he has no intention of running for any political office, he seems determined to have his say on issues that matter to Americans.

You can listen to his his healthcare discussion with Andy Slavitt below.

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