Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017
On Thursday, a gunman attacked police officers on the Champs Elysées in Paris, killing one and injuring two others. The gunman was also killed; ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack, the latest strike by Islamist militants in the heart of Europe, came just days before Sunday’s French presidential election. There are 11 presidential candidates and no one is expected to get the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff. But the two candidates expected to make the second round are Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate of the National Front, and Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, pro-EU political independent and relative neophyte.
Le Pen, who has risen in the polls with her anti-immigration, nationalist rhetoric, reacted to the attack by calling for France to restore its borders. The country, because it’s a member of the EU, allows free movement of citizens from other EU nations. The response from Macron was more muted. He said the French must “not yield to fear.”
If Le Pen succeeds in winning the French presidency, it’ll mark the first time a far-right candidate has been elected president of France since World War II. Her victory is by no means assured (and most polls show her losing in the second round), but her rise reflects many of the nationalist, anti-globalization sentiments seen in other Western nations, including the U.K. and the U.S.
As details of the Paris attack emerged Thursday, Trump said: “What can you say–it never ends. We have to be strong and be vigilant.” Early this morning, though, he tweeted that the attack “Will have a big effect on presidential election.” Although he didn’t say who would gain from the attack in Sunday’s election, Le Pen is an ideological ally of the president’s allies, and was among the first foreign politicians to congratulate him on his victory in the presidential election. Trump has previously said he believes “Paris is no longer Paris” because his friend Jim, “a very, very substantial guy” had stopped visiting the French capital.