French presidential candidate on ’60 Minutes’ vows to restore national identity, interests
by Kathryn Blackhurst –
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen promised to “Make France great again” and help France “to remain France” despite the steady advance of globalization during an interview that aired Sunday on CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”
Le Pen, the populist leader of the right-wing Front National, spoke of cracking down on illegal immigration, securing the country’s borders, renegotiating France’s membership in the European Union, protecting French workers, and preserving the values and culture that make France special. As she spoke with Anderson Cooper, Le Pen cited the 2016 success of President Donald Trump and the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union as evidence she could emerge victorious in the April 2017 French presidential election.
“We are a great nation which has a lot to offer to the world. But to offer something to the world, France has to remain France.”
Cooper pointed out that “the polls say you can’t win,” to which Le Pen replied with a laugh before admitting, “Yes.”
“[The polls] also said that Brexit wasn’t going to happen, that Donald Trump wasn’t going to be elected — wasn’t even going to be his party’s nominee,” Le Pen responded. “Well, they’re saying that less and less now. They are much more cautious — much more cautious.”
When Cooper asked her, “When Donald Trump says, ‘Make America great again,’ are you saying, ‘Make France great again’?” Le Pen replied, “Yes, of course.”
“I’ve been saying that for many years,” Le Pen added. “We are a great nation which has a lot to offer to the world. But to offer something to the world, France has to remain France.”
Le Pen lamented the havoc that she said globalism has wreaked upon her country. She said France propped up other nations while neglecting its own people and values. Unchecked, mass immigration also contributed to France’s woes, she claimed.
Immigrants now make up approximately 12 percent of France’s population, Cooper noted.
“Globalization has become an ideology with no constraints. And now nations are forcing themselves back into the debate,” Le Pen said, noting the United States’ and Britain’s successes. “This goes against unregulated globalization — wild, savage globalization … Wild globalization has benefitted some, but it’s been a catastrophe for most.”
Saying that “France’s image has undeniably changed,” Le Pen noted that “there are a number of places where people are no longer living a French life. That’s undeniable.”
Le Pen blames the massive influx of legal and illegal immigrants, as well as the rise of radical Islamic terrorism, for the roughly 200 deaths that occurred in France over the last two years — including the 130 people killed during the November 2015 Paris attacks.
“Massive immigration brings with it cultures that are sometimes in contradiction with our values,” Le Pen said. “I’m not waging a religious war. It’s clear that in France everyone has the right to practice their religion, to worship as they choose. My war is against Islamic fundamentalism.”
Le Pen went as far as to say she is “opposed to wearing headscarves in public places” because “that’s not France.”
“France isn’t burkinis on the beach. France is Brigitte Bardot. That’s France,” Le Pen said, referring to an iconic French actress. “There’s something I just don’t understand — the people who come to France, why would they want to change France? To live in France the same way they live back home?”
When Cooper noted that many legal immigrants fear the prospect of Le Pen assuming the presidency, she suggested residents who contribute to French society have nothing to fear.
“I think a lot of people are trying to scare them, but in reality they have nothing to fear,” Le Pen said. “You know, people who behave need not worry. Foreigners in France who hold a job, or respect our laws, our codes, have absolutely nothing to worry about.”
Cooper also highlighted Le Pen’s relatively friendly stance toward foreign relations with Russia, noting that Trump has also advocated for a better relationship with the country.
“I’ll tell you what the danger is in Europe — carrying out a Cold War against Russia and pushing Russia into China’s arms. That’s the threat to Europe,” Le Pen insisted. “Look, I’m not a fan in a rock concert, you see. I’m a political leader in a great nation of the world. What interests me are France’s interests.”