Obama's call hints at support for Macron in French election

French independent presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron says he would favor targeted strikes against stockpiles of chemical weapons that allegedly remain in Syria, if he were elected president.

Towards the end of the conversation, Obama wished Macron "good luck".

"Make sure that, as you said, you work hard all the way through", Obama said.

Macron, from the centrist party En Marche!, even posted a video of himself speaking with Obama whom he said stressed the importance of the relationship between the US and France, according to a Reuters report.

Obama's office announced the call in a short statement.

"An endorsement was not the goal of the call, as President Obama is not making any formal endorsement in advance of the run-off election on Sunday", Lewis added, though the clarification did not stop speculation that the call was Obama's way of signaling favor for the candidate.

But Macron's team released a video recording on Twitter of Macron talking to Obama on speakerphone.

It was unclear if Macron received permission to release the recording of parts of the call. (The top two candidates from the April 23 contest will face each other in a runoff May 7.) The call probably didn't hurt Macron, as Obama remains pretty popular in France. The outcome is being closely watched for signs that Europe is moving toward nationalist candidates who advocate the European Union's dissolution.

Macron, a pro-EU centrist, is leading most opinion polls for the election's first round and is expected to contest a second-round run-off with far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Obama is not endorsing before the Sunday round of voting, CNN said in its report.

Obama has stayed nearly entirely out of public view since leaving office January 20, declining to weigh in on political issues with a few exceptions.

  • Rogelio Becker