Le Pen and Macron prepare for showdown TV debate

Le Pen and Macron prepare for showdown TV debate

PARIS — Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are preparing for their one chance for a knockout in the French presidential election race in their only one-on-one debate.

Much is at stake for both contenders, who are expected to square off Wednesday for more than two hours in their final showdown before Sunday’s runoff vote.

Le Pen, has been setting the pace in the finale of the campaign with a well-oiled communication strategy that included a surprise visit at a factory just before her rival arrived, but the latest opinion polls show the pro-EU Macron holding a strong lead over his far-right rival.

The 39-year-old Macron, who has been criticized for his early celebrations after he finished nearly three points ahead of Le Pen in the first-round vote April 23, needs to convince leftist voters that his pro-business and liberal stance should not deter them from supporting him.

Le Pen, who has softened her anti-EU message over the past 10 days to broaden her political reach, is expected to hammer home her favourite themes of security and identity as she tries to lure traditional rightist voters who supported Francois Fillon in the first round. Fillon, a former prime minister, finished third with some 20 per cent of the votes and polls suggest that as many as a third of Fillon’s voters will choose Le Pen in the second round.

Both candidates will also go after backers of far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who refused to endorse either finalist in a race which he says pits “the extreme right” against “extreme finance” — a jab at Macron’s career in banking.

Macron said this week he heard the “anger” of those who voted for populist candidates, while Le Pen, who tried to portray herself as the candidate of the people, called on the 7 million backers of Melenchon to “block” Macron.

The 48-year-old Le Pen should stay faithful to her colorful style and attack her rival head-on. Macron says he wants “to fight hand-to-hand, to fight in substance and demonstrate that her ideas are fake solutions.”

Le Pen used a tweet to associate Macron to his mentor in politics, the unpopular President Francois Hollande.

“If Mr. Macron does not feel at ease, he still can ask Francois Hollande to come and hold his hand, I won’t oppose it,” Le Pen wrote.

Wednesday’s debate marks the first time that a National Front candidate is taking part in the pre-runoff TV debate. In 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen — Marine’s father — made it to the second round, Jacques Chirac refused to appear with the far-right party co-founder, explaining that he did not want to contribute to the normalization of hatred and intolerance.

The campaign is unfolding amid unprecedented security, with France under a state of emergency after multiple attacks by Islamic extremists. Hollande called on Wednesday “for the utmost vigilance and the mobilization of all state means to allow the smooth running of the second round of voting for the presidential election.”

Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press

Just Posted

College buys a yurt to boost student success

Round tent-like structure part of college instructional shift

Soup kitchen sees “groundswell of community support”

Donations toward looming tax bill push non-profit back in the black

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

Council supports lobby for fair share of cannabis tax revenue

The City of Terrace is throwing its support behind a West Kelowna… Continue reading

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

RCMP nail sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Double-doubles and demonstrations: Employees rally outside Tim Hortons

Protests held in response to Ontario franchise owners cutting employee benefits and breaks

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Stephen Paddock was behind the gunfire that killed 58 people including two Canadians

Most Read