WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump waded into France’s upcoming elections Thursday, saying he believes an attack on police officers this week will help Marine Le Pen, the far-right presidential candidate.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump said that while he is not explicitly endorsing Le Pen, the attack played to her strengths.
“She’s the strongest on borders and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France,” Trump said in the Oval Office interview. “Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election.”
U.S. presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying, “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”
Sunday’s vote is the first round in the French elections, with the top two candidates advancing to a runoff. The high-stakes contest is viewed as something of a vote on the future of the European Union, with Le Pen calling for a referendum on France’s membership in the bloc.
Le Pen has also echoed some of Trump’s hard-line rhetoric on immigration, calling for hardening French borders to stanch what she describes as an out-of-control flow of immigrants.
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