French Nationalist Marion Maréchal-Le Pen Rallies CPAC Support


Marine Le Pen, who has long aimed to burnish her credentials with foreign appearances, did not meet either Trump or anyone from his team during that visit and was photographed having coffee in a public area of the building.

Maréchal-Le Pen, who was elected to French parliament in 2012 at the age of 22, is a longtime member of the National Front party founded by her grandfather, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and now led by her aunt, Marine Le Pen.

Conservatives from around the world are in Maryland for the 45th annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

The lineup includes President Donald Trump for the second year in a row, and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as a host of cabinet members, lawmakers, and media personalities.

Marion Le Pen told crowds at CPAC that French conservatives could learn from President Trump's electoral upset. "I want 'America First" for the French people.

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But though her appearance was hyped by the controversy surrounding her name-her aunt's run for France's presidency previous year was often associated with antisemitic rhetoric-the room emptied following the vice president's speech, leaving a lot of spare seats for Le Pen's appearance.

Marechal-Le Pen, who is more socially conservative and economically liberal than her aunt, did not say if or when she was planning to return to an active role in French politics, instead mentioning her plans to open a management and political science school, which she said should train tomorrow's leaders. Some observers have touted Marechal-Le Pen as a future FN leader. "Okay, why not?" she said. The party has been struggling to remain united following the presidential election defeat.

Le Pen also used her speech to warn of the dangers of accepting large numbers of immigrants, saying France was transitioning from being "the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church" to the "little niece of Islam". Le Pen's grandfather, Jean-Marie Le Pen, questioned the Holocaust and disparaged Muslims.

Doing away with that status is among measures to be voted on at a party congress next month.