“France is America’s first and oldest ally. A lot of people don’t know that.”
— President Trump, quoted by the Boston Globe.
“President Donald Trump’s saga of awkward handshakes continues,” CNN reports.
“On Friday, right before he left France, Trump said goodbye to France’s President Emmanuel Macron, with the two grabbing and holding hands for a long, long handshake. The entire handshake lasted about 25 seconds.”
“The way Trump tells it — Jim is a friend who loves Paris and used to visit every year. Yet when Trump travels to the city Thursday for his first time as president, it’s unlikely that Jim will tag along. Jim doesn’t go to Paris anymore. Trump says that’s because the city has been infiltrated by foreign extremists,” the AP reports.
“Whether Jim exists is unclear. Trump has never given his last name. The White House has not responded to a request for comment about who Jim is or whether he will be on the trip.”
“The centrist party of French President Emmanuel Macron looks set to win a landslide victory in the second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday,” the BBC reports.
“A party needs 289 seats to control the 577-seat National Assembly. LREM is predicted to win more than 400. Mr Macron won the presidential election last month and he is now hoping to secure a solid majority to help push through his planned reforms for the country.”
“He formed his party just over a year ago, and half of its candidates have little or no political experience.”
Washington Post: “Macron rose from relative obscurity to score a landslide victory in the presidential election in May, becoming the first winning candidate in decades to come from neither the traditional center-right nor center-left parties. But now, something even more momentous is happening: Macron is leading a total overhaul of an ossified political system.”
French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a blunt greeting to Vladimir Putin, criticizing the use of chemical weapons by Syria’s Russian-backed government and blasting Russia’s state-run news media as “organs of influence and propaganda,” the Washington Post reports.
“Macron had invited the Russian leader to France to reset a relationship that has turned increasingly sour. Putin did more than any other foreign leader to undermine Macron’s legitimacy in this country’s recent presidential election, meeting with his far-right opponent during the campaign.”
Politico: “The new French president struck a firm, at times defiant tone. There was even a flash of anger when the subject of election hacking was brought up.”
French president Emmanuel Macron said his now-famous white-knuckle handshake showdown with Donald Trump was “a moment of truth” designed to show that he’s no pushover, the Guardian reports.
Said Macron: “My handshake with him, it wasn’t innocent. One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either.”
“At their first meeting, ahead of a Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday, the two men locked hands for so long that knuckles started turning white. The French leader held the shake for a few seconds more. Both men’s jaws seemed to clench.”
President Trump told Emmanuel Macron that he had been his favorite to win the French presidential election and media reports that he was backing far-right leader Marine Le Pen were wrong, Reuters reports.
Said Trump: “You were my guy.”
“Trump told Macron that, contrary to media reports during the race, he had not backed Le Pen and had followed Macron’s campaign with great attention, the source said, adding that the two leaders had spoken in English.”
Flashback: Trump says Le Pen is strongest candidate.
President Trump met newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron for the first time. From the pool report:
The two presidents, each wearing dark suits and blue ties (Trump’s was thick and royal blue; Macron’s was skinny and navy) sat in antique cream-upholstered arm chairs, with two American and French flags behind them. They shook hands for an extended period of time. Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.
“Newly-inaugurated French President Emmanuel Macron appointed a conservative prime minister in a move to broaden his political appeal and weaken his opponents before legislative elections in June,” Reuters reports.
“It is the first time in modern French political history that a president has appointed a prime minister from outside his camp without being forced to by a defeat in parliamentary elections. Macron’s presidential win itself was a seismic shift in a political landscape dominated for decades by the two main left-wing and right-wing parties.”
“The Trump administration is so far ignoring pleas from both on and off Capitol Hill to denounce the suspected Russian-backed digital assault that appeared aimed to tilt Sunday’s French presidential election toward nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen,” Politico reports.
“The White House’s failure to mention the attack on one of America’s oldest allies has worried Democrats, cyber policy specialists and former White House officials, who say the omission reveals a troubling inability to call out Russia over its digital aggression.”
We ran simulations with the latest polling data and, with an overall turnout of 72% and voting intentions of 59% to 41% in favor of Macron, if Le Pen’s prospective voters turn out at a rate of 88% vs 61% for Macron, then she would win.
Differentiated turnout to Le Pen’s advantage is a realistic scenario as polls show Macron’s support is more tepid than hers and that French voters currently view her second round campaign stronger than Macron’s (a Harris Interactive poll found 61% of the French population think Le Pen kicked off her second round campaign well compared to 52% who believe Macron did not), that only 40% of people actually want to see Macron elected, and that first-round voters of moderate and left-leaning candidates eliminated from the runoff could abstain en masse.
“With a tense battle for the future of France underway ahead of a presidential runoff election next month, the far-right insurgent Marine Le Pen is pulling a page from the same improbable victory playbook as President Trump: encouraging her opponents to stay home,” the Washington Post reports.
“Opinion polls suggest that Le Pen’s opponent, centrist newcomer Emmanuel Macron, holds a commanding lead ahead of the May 7 runoff, less because French voters believe in him than because they are frightened by Le Pen’s National Front, which has long been dogged by charges of anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathies.”
“But in a year when voters are storming the establishment bastions around the world, many mainstream French politicians are warning that Macron’s campaign is dangerously complacent.”
“Not since World War II has the anti-immigrant far right been closer to gaining power in France. With her second-place finish on Sunday in the first round of the presidential election, Marine Le Pen has dragged her National Front party from the dark fringes of its first 40 years,” the New York Times reports.
“But that remarkable accomplishment is so alarming to so many in France that as soon as the preliminary results were announced at 8:01 p.m., virtually all of her major opponents in the 11-person race called for her defeat in the second-round runoff on May 7. They implored their supporters to vote for the candidate projected to come out on top on Sunday, the centrist, pro-European Union former economy minister Emmanuel Macron, a political novice and outsider.”
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