- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
The French president, facing his own reelection battle, dropped a subtle endorsement into a discussion of U.S. role in the Mideast peace process:
"There is also a presidential election in the United States. President Obama, who is a very great president, won’t take the initiative before he’s re-elected — and I hope he will be — but there’s a place for France and a place for Europe."
The sentiment isn’t much of a surprise. Back in 2008, Sarkozy issued a near endorsement of candidate Obama when the two met at the Elysée Palace, saying “Of course it’s not up to the French to choose the next president of the United States of America" but “Barack Obama’s adventure is an adventure that rings true in the hearts and minds of the French people."
Obama and Sarkozy haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, particularly on economic issues, but given the level of anti-European rhetoric deployed during the U.S. primary, the Republican candidates can hardly expect the support of the French president. And in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sarkozy’s statement makes it into Romney or Gringrich’s stump speeches.
I do think that, given the not-so-subtle way that Angela Merkel and David Cameron are supporting Sarkozy’s reelection and Sarkozy’s fairly unabashed support for Obama, it might be time to rethink the rules of when it’s permissible for a leader to comment on another country’s election. At least, if they are going to endorse, they should drop the unconvincing "it’s not our place to weigh in" shtick that always seems to precede these statements.