Marine Le Pen began a tour of Washington, D.C. and New York yesterday, albeit reportedly without any confirmed meetings with high-profile political figures. Preparing for France's presidential election in 2012, the leader of the far-right Front National party is visiting the United States in an effort to bolster her international credentials. But will she succeed?
Le Pen first announced her U.S. trip last summer, when her party announced that she planned to meet with both Republicans and Democrats. "There will be Republicans, I hope there will be Democrats, because I want to meet with everyone," she said, according to AFP.
GlobalPost reports that Le Pen also intended to meet leaders from the Tea Party, a group she long has expressed interest in. "We can't say we have ideological kinship, but the fact that it's an anti-establishment group, opposed to the two main parties, that's interesting," Louis Aliot, Marine Le Pen's domestic partner and a Front National member, was quoted as saying by GlobalPost.
Yet as her departure for Washington neared, expectations for her trip were lowered. Le Pen's itinerary revealed that her only confirmed meeting with a major political figure would be with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Paul reportedly had to cancel the arrangement due to a scheduling conflict. The Telegraph's Henry Samuel notes, however, that it may have been an intentional snub. "Her aides claim mainstream French parties have pressured U.S. officials not to meet her," he writes.
Le Pen insisted that she had other meetings planned. She would meet with an unnamed Democrat, "who doesn't correspond to majority thinking" of his camp, Le Point wrote in French. She would visit the IMF, an organization she earlier described as "an infernal machine in service of ultraliberalism" that she would rather see dissolved. She was also scheduled to have a breakfast meeting with French-speaking diplomats at the U.N., but according to The Telegraph, the French mission to the world body was uninformed of such plans.
Luckily, there is always Zuccotti park. According to GlobalPost and Radio France International, Le Pen will be honoring the protesters with a visit there sometime this week, where protesters will surely eagerly await her address.