Trump predicts 'big effect' from Paris attack on French election

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

Washington - US President Donald Trump predicted the attack in Paris 'will have a big effect' on the French presidential election that begins this weekend, without naming which candidates he believed would benefit.

'Another terrorist attack in Paris,' Trump said on Twitter on Friday morning. 'The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!'

France’s election is the most open in nearly half a century. Polling shows Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister whom rivals have sought to paint as weak on security issues, leading a crowded field ahead of the first round of voting on Sunday.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who has made terrorism and immigration key issues in her campaign, and Francois Fillon, a conservative former prime minister, are close behind, as is Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon.

Most of the major candidates canceled campaign events that had been scheduled for Friday after a police officer was killed and two others injured in a shooting late on Thursday that the government was treating as a terrorist attack. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, its news agency, Amaq, said.

After the shooting, Le Pen reiterated her calls for border controls and a crackdown on radical Islam - platform issues that have drawn comparisons to Trump’s campaign. She said in a CNN interview after the US election in November that Trump’s unexpected win could boost her own chances.

“Donald Trump has made possible what was presented as completely impossible,” Le Pen said then. "So it’s a sign of hope for those who cannot bear wild globalisation. They cannot bear the political life led by the elites."

Macron after Thursday’s attack said Le Pen’s plans were “nonsense” and he’d improve intelligence with a centralized anti-terror force. Fillon said he wanted greater cooperation with Russia and Iran. Melenchon said he wouldn’t cede to “panic” and would continue with his plans for the day.

Macron spoke to former US President Barack Obama by phone on Thursday. Obama isn’t making any formal endorsement ahead of Sunday’s vote, spokesperson Kevin Lewis said in a statement.

But, Lewis said, Obama "appreciated the opportunity to hear from Mr. Macron about his campaign and the important upcoming presidential election in France, a country that President Obama remains deeply committed to as a close ally of the United States, and as a leader on behalf of liberal values in Europe and around the world."

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