Trump tip-toes around outright endorsement ahead of French election

France will vote Sunday in the first round of its election.
(Image credit: iStock)

With France going to the polls on Sunday for the first round of its presidential election, President Trump has remained uncharacteristically quiet. "Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this," he tweeted Friday morning. "Will have a big effect on presidential election!"

If the tweet was meant as a prediction or endorsement of the success of far-right anti-European Union leader Marine Le Pen, it is a muted one compared to Trump's vocal support of the Brexit vote last year.

Trump's relative silence is an interesting one: Le Pen, like Trump, has taken a hardline stance against immigration and securing the countries' borders from the threat of extremists, and ideologically she shares much in common with Trump's senior strategist, Stephen Bannon. But one Trump associate told Politico that Trump knows he cannot get too involved in foreign elections: "Even if there was some sympathy, there's nothing a president can do. That would be very undiplomatic," the associate told Politico.

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Former President Barack Obama has also danced around the French election, taking a call from Le Pen's rival, centrist Emmanuel Macron. While not an explicit endorsement, Axios noted that "Obama and Macron are ideologically aligned and the signal will be noticed by French voters."

Trump, for his part, dodged an opportunity to come out one way or another during a press conference Thursday. "A strong Europe is very, very important to me," Trump said. "We want to see it. We will help it be strong, and it's very much to everybody's advantage."

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.