For all the finger-pointing from former President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Obama does not appear to have any issues personally reaching out to the French presidential candidate whose policies most closely reflect his interests.
On Thursday, Obama dialed Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate who is expected to face populist firebrand Marine Le Pen in a runoff election in May.
“The main message I have is to wish you all the best in the coming days, and make sure, as you said, you work hard all the way through – because you never know, it might be that last day of campaigning that makes all the difference,” Obama said, prompting Macron to offer up some platitudes of his own.
Shortly after the call took place, Macron uploaded a video of him speaking to the former president to his official Twitter account, writing: “Let’s keep defending our progressive values. Thank you for this discussion @BarackObama.”
Make no mistake, though: Obama’s camp has come forward to emphatically declare that the phone call had nothing to do with Obama picking sides in the heated election.
“An endorsement was not the purpose of the call, as President Obama is not making any formal endorsement,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said, suggesting that the call was meant more as a show of good faith between the United States and France.
On Sunday, French voters will cast their ballot to determine the country’s next president in a race that has seen four candidates, including Macron and Le Pen, emerge as potential contenders in the May runoff election.