Feb. 19 - President Nicolas Sarkozy told an election rally on Sunday his policies had saved France from economic ruin. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
A warm welcome for French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a rally in Marseille, as he steps up his reelection bid. Sarkozy told thousands of his supporters that his policies have saved France from economic ruin. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY SAYING: "Those who behave as if nothing really serious happened in the world in the last three years, those who behave as if the risks to which France had been confronted were anything else than dramatic, well those people are lying to the French. Those people are not doing a service to the French." As the center-right Sarkozy is grappling with disapproval ratings as high as 68 percent, he continues to underscore his economic stewardship. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY SAYING: "Our generation does not have the right to, it does not have the right to leave to our children the job of paying the bills that we would not have had the courage to pay ourselves. If we deny reality, we cannot understand the efforts that have to be made. And if we don't understand them, we won't be able to do them, and if they're not done, well it's all the French who will suffer." He also spoke of holding the line on cultural issues, such as implementing a burqa ban in France while others were set to compromise. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY SAYING: "I remember those, who not so long ago, refused the burqa ban because their beliefs were not strong enough. I remember those who wanted to separate men and women in public swimming pools because they were ready to make any compromise with republican values. There cannot be a compromise with republican values." The Presidential race in France began in earnest last week when Sarkozy declared his candidacy for reelection. Opinion polls show him trailing the frontrunner by 12 points. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters