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The Latest: National Front lawmaker attacked before rally

Associated Press logo Associated Press 17/04/2017
French anti-riot officers stand next to a placard of far-right National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen during a protest march from suburban Aubervilliers to Paris, Sunday, April 16, 2017. Le Pen is one of the top contenders in France first-round presidential vote on April 23. A presidential runoff is being held May 7. (AP Photo/Francois Mori) © The Associated Press French anti-riot officers stand next to a placard of far-right National Front leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen during a protest march from suburban Aubervilliers to Paris, Sunday, April 16, 2017. Le Pen is one of the top contenders in France first-round presidential vote on April 23. A presidential runoff is being held May 7. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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

9:15 p.m.

The campaign director for Marine Le Pen says that National Front lawmaker Gilbert Collard and his wife have been attacked before a rally for the far-right French presidential candidate.

David Rachline blamed the attack and other scuffles on "extreme-left scum."

Collard told reporters he was hit by a firebomb and a beer bottle before police intervened and pushed back the anti-National Front protesters.

"I was not scared," Collard said. "We can say they are idiotic people ... individuals who want to harm the freedom of speech."

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9 p.m.

A few dozen people protesting against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen clashed with police preventing them from heading to the entertainment complex in eastern Paris where she was holding an evening rally.

Hundreds of riot police in full gear were posted around the rally's site. They dispersed the demonstrators with tear gas.

Inside the complex, the crowd waves flags and chanted "we're in our land" as they waited for the event to start.

Le Pen has been jostling with Emmanuel Macron for the lead in polls, while hard-left rival Jean-Luc Melenchon and conservative Francois Fillon begin to close the gap.

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6:50 p.m.

French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon is taking his far-left, anti-globalization campaign through the canals of Paris as his popularity soars six days before the election.

Thousands of supporters lined the canals in eastern Paris as Melenchon floated through Monday, many of them chanting "President! President!"

Melenchon has risen in polls ahead of the first round of France's presidential election on April 23, with some pollsters saying he could have a chance of reaching the May 7 presidential runoff.

That is rattling markets and prompting attacks from his rivals. They warn that his promises to heavily tax the rich and renegotiate France's role in the EU would devastate the French economy.

Melenchon, 65, spent decades in mainstream politics, serving in a Socialist government and in parliament. He now leads a far-left alliance that includes the Communist Party.

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6:25 p.m.

French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron has pledged to represent an "open, confident, winning France" in contrast with his far-right and far-left rivals.

Without naming them, Macron suggested Monday that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon want to isolate France form the rest of the world. Speaking at a big rally in Paris, Macron says "Some want us to believe ... that France will isolate itself."

Warning against the consequences of a vote for the far-right, he said "we feel everywhere the temptation of barbarism ready to surge in other guises."

Macron, an independent centrist with pro-business, pro-European views, is among the front-runners in France's unpredictable presidential race. The top two vote-getters in the first round Sunday will advance to the May 7 presidential runoff.

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12:50 p.m.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right rival Marine Le Pen hope to rally big crowds in Paris with their rival visions for Europe's future.

Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, enjoying a late poll surge, is campaigning on a barge Monday floating through the canals of Paris. And conservative candidate Francois Fillon is taking his tough-on-security campaign to the southern French city of Nice, which was scarred by a deadly truck attack last year that killed 86 people.

The French presidential race is being watched internationally as an important gauge of populist sentiment, and the outcome is increasingly uncertain just six days before Sunday's first round vote.

Le Pen's nationalist rhetoric and Melenchon's anti-globalization campaign have resonated with French voters sick of the status quo. Macron, meanwhile, is painting himself as an anti-establishment figure seeking to bury the traditional left-right spectrum that has governed France for decades.

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10 a.m.

French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker well connected in the business world, has fended off questions about his elitist image on BFM television.

He says Monday "the money I earned in my life, I earned it. I have not been given gifts."

He accused rivals of pandering to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and tried to distance himself from Fillon, whose austerity-focused campaign has been damaged by accusations that he misused taxpayer money to pay his wife and children for government jobs that they allegedly did not perform. French investigators are probing the case.

Fillon denies wrongdoing and is focusing instead on security issues that resonate with many voters after two years of deadly attacks across the country.

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