French debate, insults to bitter end

Far-right leader and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen, acknowledges applauses while holding a bunch of flowers after exit poll results of the first round of the presidential election were announced at her election day headquarters in Henin-Beaumont, northern France, Sunday, April 23, 2017. Polling agency projections show far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron leading in the first-round French presidential election. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

 

PARIS (AP) — Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says that France is a “nation with a culture, a people, hope,” but would be a “trading floor” if rival Emmanuel Macron is elected.

The populist Le Pen said in a televised debate on Wednesday that vision of Macron, a former investment banker and economy minister, was “absolutely not” hers.

The 2 ½ hour-long debate started and ended with insults and heated barbs from both candidates.

Macron said that Le Pen resembles her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who reached the runoff presidential vote in 2002 and was thrown out of the National Front party he co-founded for making anti-Semitic comments.

He said Marine Le Pen’s platform is based on “fear and lies” and that France must move away from system that produced her far-right party.

Macron told Le Pen: “You are its parasite.”

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, center left, poses with a family during in a fuel stop on the freeway as he drives back to Paris after voting in the first round of the French presidential election, in le Touquet, northern France, Sunday April 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Le Pen interjected “What class!”

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