Party chief denies Sarkozy thinking of career's end
The head of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's party denied on Wednesday the leader was thinking his political career is over and said remarks seemingly to that effect were taken out of context.
"These are quotes that were taken entirely out of context," UMP party chief Jean-Francois Cope said of the widely-reported comments by Sarkozy made just three months before he faces a tough re-election battle.
Sarkozy told a group of journalists, including from AFP, that he was "certain" he would end his life in politics if defeated and said "you won't hear about me anymore if I'm beaten".
The weekend comments prompted a series of attacks from Sarkozy's opponents, who accused him of lacking the determination to remain president.
"This story does not make a lot of sense," Cope said. "I can testify that the president, who I see every day, is totally determined. His belief in his mission is total, his commitment to the country is also absolutely total and we are all together at his side totally engaged for the country."
Latest opinion polls give right-wing Sarkozy around 23 percent of votes in the first round of the election in April, 30 percent to his Socialist rival Francois Hollande, and 18 percent to far-right anti-immigrant leader Marine Le Pen.
Faith in Sarkozy's future, even within his own camp, has reportedly wilted in recent weeks. The left-leaning Le Monde's Wednesday edition headlined that his camp was "stricken with fear of defeat".
© 2012 AFP