President Trump said Friday that a deadly terrorist attack in Paris on Thursday is likely to help far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round of the country’s upcoming election.
Trump told The Associated Press in an interview that the attack, which left one police officer dead and two others seriously wounded, would “probably help” the National Front candidate, though he said he was not explicitly endorsing Le Pen.
Trump made the comment a came a day after a gunman opened fire on police officers on Paris’s Champs-Élysées, one of the most famous streets in the world. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attack, which also left the shooter dead.
Le Pen has gained momentum in the election with her promises to crack down on immigration and terrorism and to remove France from the European Union. Her policies have been compared to those of Trump, who similarly ran on a platform of economic nationalism and a promise to restore law and order.
While he stopped short of an outright endorsement, Trump applauded Le Pen, saying she is the candidate “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.”
Polling before Thursday’s attack suggested that Le Pen would make the runoff election after the first vote but lose in a one-on-one race.
France has experienced a number of high-profile attacks in recent years, and terrorism is considered a top issue in the country’s presidential election, which is set to begin on Sunday.