PARIS â€” Marine Le Pen deliberately plagiarized verbatim parts of an address from a former presidential candidate, as a "wink" to him and the voters she hopes to peel away in a runoff, her spokesmen said Tuesday.
Francois Fillon, the former Republicans candidate, first delivered the speech on France's role in Europe and the world on April 15 â€” just two weeks before Le Pen's discourse on Monday.
The subject is at the heart of Le Pen's campaign. She promises to pull France out of the European Union and return to the franc currency, and has denounced globalization's effects on the French economy and culture.
Three separate spokesmen for Le Pen used the word "wink" to describe the extracts copied word for word from Fillon. At no point in the speech did she cite Fillon or acknowledge the source of the extracts.
"I think with part of the right, we have exactly the same vision on the national identity and independence," Louis Aliot, Front National vice-president, told LCI television Tuesday.
Immediately after being eliminated in the first-round vote, Fillon called for his supporters to back her centrist rival, Emmanuel Macron.
Both Macron and Le Pen are going after the voters of the 9 other candidates knocked out in that vote, in which France's two main parties both failed to make it to the second round for the first time in the country's modern history.
Macron is promising an ethics bill that will block office-holders from conflicts of interest, nepotism and other ethical issues that have infuriated voters.
Macron, who started his own political movement just a year ago, also promised he could get a legislative majority to pass the measure and others he says France needs to pull itself from the economic doldrums.
Legislative elections are in June, and whoever is president will depend on lawmakers to implement an agenda. Macron, who has pulled support from the right and the left, said Tuesday candidates will have to quit their parties to run in his movement.
Lori Hinnant, The Associated Press