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

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it to editor@trailtimes.ca

Storm the Stairs and Trail Kidney Walk this weekend

Grapevine: Events in the Trail area for the week of Sept. 20 to Sept. 26

Kootenay Robusters end 18th paddling season

Women of Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Christina Lake and Grand Forks came together in 2001

Military exercises may be audible in Trail

The exercises will be conducted in the Trail area from Thursday to Sunday

Council rollover inspires crop of hopeful politicians

Fourteen people vying for six council seats

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read