Sarkozy calls Socialist rival Hollande an inveterate liar
AFP PARIS FRENCH President Nicolas Sarkozy used his first re-election campaign rally on Thursday to launch a blistering attack on his frontrunning Socialist rival, calling him an inveterate liar.
Francois Hollande “lies from morning to night,” Sarkozy told cheering supporters at the Alpine town of Annecy, the day after officially declaring his candidacy for the election in 10 weeks. “When you tell the English press that you are promarket (economically liberal) and when you come to explain to the French that finance is the enemy, you are lying, you are lying from morning to night!,” he said.
The president was referring to an interview in the Guardian published on Monday in which the Socialist favourite said he wanted to reassure the City of London that it need not worry about his plans to regulate the financial world. Hollande said in his first campaign rally late last month that the “enemy” was “the world of finance.” Polls consistently show Hollande as the clear frontrunner and, with less than 10 weeks to go until the first round of voting on April 22, the election is shaping up to be a classic two-horse race between right and left.
Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, the right-wing president’s Socialist rival and the frontrunner in the opinion polls, have been sparring for months, but Wednesday’s official declaration marked the start of the campaign proper.
The French leader’s campaign website, emblazoned with the slogan “A strong France”, went online on Thursday as he took to the campaign trail with a public meeting and visit to a cheesemaking plant in the French Alps. Sarkozy had said he felt it was his duty to stand and see France through its worst crisis since World War II, but it was all smiles as he visited carefully selected supporters in a rightwing constituency.
His security detail as a candidate was less imposing than a presidential party, and he seemed to enjoy tasting cheeses and sausages while greeting supporters: “This campaign has started well. I’ll put on three kilos!” Nearly 11 million viewers had seen his declaration on France’s main evening news broadcast, shortly after Hollande staged a televised rally for 10,000 cheering supporters in his hometown of Rouen. Polls consistently show the pair as clear frontrunners and, with less than 10 weeks to go until voting on April 22, the election is shaping up to be a classic two-horse race between right and left.