NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — French nationalist Marion Marechal-Le Pen earned a warm reception at CPAC Thursday, despite numerous conservative pundits denouncing her appearance.
Le Pen mocked the criticism she was a “national socialist” and not a real conservative with the opening lines of her speech.
“Hello my fellow conservatives!” the 28-year-old National Front politician greeted the crowd. “I hope you see me as less terrifying than how the American media portrays me because it’s crazy. Yesterday, I was a fascist — today, I’m a socialist!” (RELATED: Marion Le Pen Makes Sense For CPAC)
The conservative crowd, for the most part, cheered for the niece of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, and little in her speech sounded out of place in a setting like CPAC. The younger Le Pen emphasized Franco-American friendship, her support for President Trump, her nationalist opposition to globalism and her social conservatism.
“French blood was spilled on American soil when our friendship began. Over two centuries later, here at CPAC we are once again standing side-by-side for freedom. This freedom is a gift. Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience,” Le Pen said of France’s long relationship with America.
She railed against the European Union as a bureaucratic nightmare, taking away sovereignty from the French people. “The European Union is a liability that looks only to the future, without people, without roots and without civilization. It is in the process of killing nations.”
That’s why Le Pen argued she is a nationalist and supports nationalists all over the world.
“I am not offended when I hear the president say America first,” she said to the roar of the crowd’s approval. “I want America first for the American people. I want Britain first for the British people, and I want France first for the French people.”
She counters this nationalist focus to the globalist model of institutions like the EU. “I refuse the standardized world proposed by the EU. I consider that the people have a right to historical continuity,” Le Pen said.
“All I want is the survival of my nation,” she declared as her core conservative principle. Chants of “Viva la France” broke out among the crowd after that statement.
Le Pen bemoaned that “after 40 years of massive immigration, Islamic lobbies and political correctness, France is in the process of passing from the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church to the little niece of Islam.”
“This is not the France our grandparents fought for!” she exhorted.
The National Front representative insisted that nationalist principles are important for a nation, stressing her pro-life and pro-family position.
Without nations and without family, belief in the common good, natural law, and duality disappears as the reign of egoism continues,” she said. “Today, even children have now become merchandise… We have the right to order a child in a catalogue. We have the right to rent a woman’s womb, to deprive a child of a mother and father. No, you don’t — a child is not a right. Is this the freedom we want? No. We do not want this atomized world of individuals without gender, without father, without mother, and without nation!”
The last line was a hit with the audience, earning her the loudest applause of her speech.
The French politician stated that her party, like the movement that put Trump in the White House, wants “to take our country back” and that conservative young people in Europe, like herself, are ready for the fight.
“When the people are given the opportunity to take their country back, they will seize it,” she stated.
She concluded her speech with a quote from the composer Gustav Mahler that she believes best encapsulates “conservative modernity.”
“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
Le Pen’s speech was warmly received by the conservative crowd at CPAC, and the only time she received boos was when she mentioned the EU, a sign of agreement with her rather than disagreement.
While American conservatives liked what Le Pen had to say, her compatriots weren’t thrilled with what else CPAC had to offer. Several French nationalists watched a colorless CPAC panel on how “Trumpism” is just about economic prosperity on a livestream posted by Le Pen prior to her speech.
The Frenchies were not enthused by it. “Americans really listen to this?” said one irate French listener.