Macron, Le Pen Seek to Expand Beyond Bases as French Vote Looms

  • Le Pen focuses attacks on values, avoiding European currency
  • Centrist Macron says he won’t see vote as ‘blank check’

French Election Candidates Face-Off Heats Up

French presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron are seeking to expand beyond their own political bases as the nation’s hard-fought presidential contest shifts into its final 10 days.

At a rally in the Mediterranean city of Nice late Thursday, Le Pen avoided mentioning her plan to pull out of the euro and attacked Macron for lacking French values in an appeal to supporters of conservative candidates who were defeated in the first round of voting Sunday. Macron, meanwhile, was in a 1-1/2 hour television interview in which he promised not to interpret votes from backers of other parties as a “blank check” and suggested to the country that not voting helped his rival.

“Not taking a stand amounts to helping Le Pen,” Macron, 39, said on TF1 television. “I can understand, for instance, if those who voted Fillon wanted more powerful economic measures. I ask them simply: Do you believe in the plans of Madame Le Pen?” He was referring to Francois Fillon, the former prime minister and Republican party candidate, who failed to advance to the second round.

French voters are facing the starkest choice between the candidates since 2002 when Marine’s father, Jean-Marie, made the runoff contest. While Le Pen, 48, wants to put up border controls and tax imports, saying an open world no longer works for most French people, Macron says the European Union is the bulwark of France’s prosperity and that his rival’s plans would lead to economic disaster.

Left Unsaid

Le Pen accused front-runner Macron of leaving France undefended. Yet, in an hourlong speech, she never mentioned the most controversial aspect of her program: taking France out of the European single currency.

“His program is oligarchic, globalist, individualistic, immigrationist,” she said to a cheering crowd of about 4,000. “He doesn’t see a nation, but land; he doesn’t see a people, but a population. We have the obligation to warn the French.”

Speaking to an adoring crowd in Nice that repeatedly broke into cheers of “Marine President,” she painted a picture of France at the mercy of immigrants and predatory companies should Macron win.

“Macron was an investment banker, and I’m sure he was a good investment banker,” she said. “But he sees France as one big trading floor. Like all globalists, he doesn’t understand the desire of people to have their roots, their culture. He never cared about workers.”

According to Bloomberg’s poll tracker, Macron would take 60.75 percent of the vote in the second round, with Le Pen getting 39.25 percent.

Le Pen kicks off campaigning Friday with an interview on morning radio and completes it with an appearance on television. Macron will be campaigning in southwestern France, including an evening rally.

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