“In France, we’re watching with great interest what you’re doing,” Sarkozy told Obama, noting how he himself, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, doesn’t fit the stereotypical mould of a French leader.
“Barack Obama’s adventure is an adventure that rings true in the hearts and minds of the French and of Europeans,” Sarkozy gushed.
“Of course, it’s not up to the French to choose the next President of the United States of America,” he said, adding that he’d happily work with whichever candidate wins.
“There were two of us in my office. And one of us became president,” he said. “Well, let the other do likewise and win. Well, I mean, that’s not meddling.”
Mr. Sarkozy, elected in 2007, first met Mr. Obama in 2006 while a candidate for the French presidency.
He offered considerably less time and accessibility to John McCain during McCain’s March visit to Paris. After 45 minutes of talks McCain was left on his own, dealing with questions from reporters in the courtyard of the Élysée.
French supporters of Mr. Obama were excited about the visit.
“He is young, not from the establishment. It’s a change of U.S. politics, of the U.S. image in the world,” said Samuel Solvit, a 22-year-old economic student who is head of a Paris-based Obama committee.
He continued, “We are not here to influence the American vote, to use it politically. We are here to say that what is going on in the US has an influence on the world.”