The French press corps in Washington, D.C., rarely seen in public, was out in full force on Wednesday, hot in pursuit of far-right French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen.
They were hoping to find her meeting secretly with the Ku Klux Klan, if you read the French Twitter traffic. But all they got was a brief meeting between Le Pen and GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul, where the two discussed a return to the gold standard, and then a command performance at the National Press Club, which they didn’t cover at all.
The Daily Caller tracked French reporters hoping to ambush Le Pen, the daughter of French National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, at a meeting of Washington, D.C. conservatives near Union Station at noon, and caught up with them again at a private lunch at the Capitol Hill Club an hour later.
“They were chasing us as we were driving here, but we managed to lose them,” Le Pen spokesman Guido Lombardi told TheDC jokingly.
Le Pen had scheduled a trip to the Holocaust Museum as part of an effort to distance herself from the anti-Semitic image of her father’s party. Jean-Marie Le Pen was criminally sanctioned for in France for calling Nazi death camps where more than six million Jews were murdered during World War II “a detail” of history.
In announcing her planned visit to the museum, Le Pen said she “stands with the nation of Israel and strongly repudiates Neo-Nazism, radical jihadists and other efforts to deny Israel’s right to exist and thrive.”
She had to cancel the museum visit because of the chase with the journalists and because the museum informed her they would not allow her to make a private visit but would treat her like an ordinary visitor.
French pollsters are now showing Le Pen neck-and-neck with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential election, so she has become the hot item for the press.
In comments to TheDC, Le Pen said she would like to see France play the role of a “real honest broker” in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, “something the United States cannot do because of its close ties to Israel.”
Asked if she believed the Palestinians wanted peace, she replied: “Yes, at least some of them. France should play a role distinct from that of the United States that currently we are not playing.”
The main reason she had come to the United States was to talk about the faltering world economy. “I believe the Euro is doomed, and the European Union is doomed,” she told TheDC.
Le Pen said that in her opinion the two greatest threats facing France and Europe as a whole were globalization and Islamization.
“We have abandoned ourselves to the religion of consumption,” she told TheDC. The National Front Party has called for imposing import tariffs on goods that compete with French products.
She also blasted the Obama administration for helping to shift the balance of power in the Middle East.
“The so-called Arab Spring has brought to power Islamist regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya,” she said. “Ironically, it’s only the secular dictator, Assad of Syria, who is protecting religious minorities. I am worried about the Christians of Syria, and the Christians of Iraq who have taken refuge in Syria, if Assad falls.”
Known not so affectionately as “the blonde plague” to the French left-wing media, Le Pen has a sharp tongue and a lawyer’s training and calm. Pressed by a French television reporter during the scandal over allegations of sexual abuse by former IMF chairman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the darling of the French Socialist Party, she defended women subjected to sexual harassment and accused the French press and political class of covering up Strauss-Kahn’s well-known reputation as a sexual predator.
“I don’t much like the American judicial system,” she said, “but there is at least one place where they can give us a good lesson, and that is whether you are an immigrant hotel maid or the head of the IMF, in the United States you get a fair and equal treatment.”