Barney Frank: 'A Little Strange' to Sit Out Election

October 15, 2012

Describing it as "a little strange," Rep. Barney Frank is sitting out his first Congressional race in over 30 years. The veteran Newton Democrat announced his retirement and won't seek reelection in Massachusetts' fourth Congressional district.

"I had originally planned to run one more term, until the legislative redistricting so changed my district that I thought it would be unfair of me to go to hundreds of thousands of new people and ask them to give me just one more term," Frank said.

Since his announcement, Frank has been a vocal supporter of Joseph Kennedy III, the Democratic candidate in line for Frank's seat. He faces Republican challenger Sean Bielat.

Frank has also stumped for another fellow Democrat, Barack Obama. He downplayed Obama's tepid performance in the first presidential debate.

"People have off days. I've had off days," Frank said, referring to the President's workmanlike and sometimes tentative style in Denver. "He didn't do anything wrong." Obama faces off a second time Tuesday against Gov. Mitt Romney.

Asked about two ballot questions Massachusetts voters will face in less than three weeks — legalizing medical marijuana, and approving physician-assisted suicide — Rep. Frank was unequivocal.

"I'm in favor of legalizing marijuana certainly for medical cases," Frank said about Question 3. "I know people who have found it helpful when they were suffering from cancer and other issues."

Calling it a "personal" decision, Frank said the government shouldn't be in a position to make end-of-life decisions — like physician-assisted suicide proposed by Question 2. "If I were in that situation I'd fiercely resent anybody who'd tell me what to do."

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