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The Latest: France's Macron would formalize first lady role

Associated Press logo Associated Press 27/04/2017
French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron greets youths during a campaign visit to Sarcelles, north of Paris, Thursday, April 27, 2017. (Martin Bureau, Pool Photo via AP) © The Associated Press French presidential election candidate Emmanuel Macron greets youths during a campaign visit to Sarcelles, north of Paris, Thursday, April 27, 2017. (Martin Bureau, Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS — The Latest on France's presidential election (all times local):

11:28 p.m.

Emmanuel Macron says he would formalize the role of first lady, if he is elected as France's president, and his wife, Brigitte, would help decide how.

Stressing his commitment to women's rights, Macron said of his wife Thursday on TF1 television, "she has her word to say in this."

He said the first lady's role should not be a paid one, as it has been in the past, but "she will have a public role."

Brigitte Macron has been prominent in her husband's campaign, which is unusual in France.

The couple met when he was in high school and she was a teacher, and they later married. She is 24 years his senior, and at age 39, Macron already has multiple step-grandchildren.

Macron, an independent centrist, faces far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a May 7 runoff.

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11:20 p.m.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is ramping up her campaign for the blue-collar vote with promises to "tame" globalization and protect workers.

After upstaging her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron at a Whirlpool factory on Wednesday, Le Pen told thousands of supporters at a rally in Nice on Thursday that Macron doesn't understand workers' concerns.

Le Pen said she would be a president who protects French citizens with "economic patriotism" and protectionist measures.

She also pledged tough security measures at her rally in Nice, the French city where 86 people were killed in an Islamic extremist truck attack last year.

She and Macron face off in a May 7 runoff election. Polls suggest Macron, a former banker and economy minister, is the favorite to win.

But Le Pen is waging a media-savvy campaign for support from disgruntled workers and the unemployed.

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10:15 p.m.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is urging skeptical voters to cast ballots in the May 7 runoff election, warning that low turnout would boost his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen.

Speaking on TF1 television on Thursday might, Macron said, "Let's all face our responsibilities."

He said that refusing to vote helps Le Pen and amounts to casting a ballot to abandon the European Union, the euro currency and "the nation and its values."

Pollsters consider Macron the favorite for the runoff, but say a low turnout rate could diminish his chances.

Many voters who backed other candidates in Sunday's first-round election don't like either Macron or Le Pen and may abstain from the runoff.

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5:40 p.m.

French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron has visited a sports complex in a working-class immigrant suburb of Paris.

Macron, shaking hands with inhabitants of Sarcelles who came to welcome him, has told reporters "there are two projects facing each other. There's Marine Le Pen's project of a fractured, closed France."

Macron said: "On the other hand, you have my project which is a republican, patriotic project aiming at ... reconciling France." He called Le Pen's National Front party "xenophobic."

The centrist Macron faces far-right, anti-immigration candidate Le Pen in a May 7 runoff.

Macron went into a gymnasium to meet with members of an association that helps with the integration of local youths into society through sports, assistance in setting-up businesses and finding them jobs.

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1 p.m.

Watched by riot police, French high school students have protested in Paris against both presidential candidates — far-right Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Students blocked entrances to some high schools Thursday and marched through eastern Paris toward the neighborhood of the Bastille. Some held banners reading "No Fatherland, No Boss, No Le Pen, No Macron," referring to Le Pen's nationalist campaign and Macron's pro-business campaign.

An election-night protest in the same area Sunday degenerated into clashes between projectile-throwing demonstrators and police firing tear gas.

A Paris school district official says teens blocked or tried to block some 20 high schools in the Paris area Thursday morning. Students are holding demonstrations in front of some schools.

Le Pen and Macron face each other in a May 7 runoff.

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10:45 a.m.

Marine Le Pen has gone fishing for votes — literally. The far-right French presidential candidate spent several hours, from before dawn on Thursday, on a fishing trawler on the Mediterranean Sea.

The sea trip was the latest television-friendly effort by Le Pen to paint herself as the candidate of France's workers against her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron, whom she portrays as representing the business, political and European Union elite.

After her voyage aboard the "Grace of God 2" trawler, Le Pen said: "My grandfather was a fisherman, so I am in my element."

The anti-EU populist said that if she is elected on May 7, France will take back control of its maritime policies. She again tore into former banker and finance minister Macron and his more economically liberal program.

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10 a.m.

France is furiously debating who out of Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron won "the battle of Whirlpool" — the remarkable clash of styles on Wednesday when both presidential candidates stumped for blue-collar votes at a closure-threatened appliance factory in northern France.

Former presidential candidate Francois Bayrou — a Macron ally — is awarding victory to the centrist former economy minister, saying Macron showed courage by spending over an hour trying to talk with angry workers at the Whirlpool plant in Amiens.

He was dismissive of Le Pen's much shorter visit, saying: "She stayed 10 minutes, with selfies and smiles, and that's not a presidential campaign."

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