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Politics

Barack Obama Dives Back Into the Political Fray — In France

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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 11: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as he meets with French President Francois Hollande in the Oval Office at the White House on February 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Hollande who arrived yesterday for a three day state visit, visited Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate and will be the guest of honor for a state dinner tonight. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

Just 105 days into his post-presidency, Barack Obama is back at it, taking the unusual (for a former U.S. president) step of weighing into a foreign election.

On Thursday afternoon, a video was made public of the former president expressing his endorsement of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.

The brief 1:10 video posted on Macron’s Twitter site begins with Obama expressing his gratitude for the friendship of the French people and explaining: “I’m not planning on getting involved in many elections now that I don’t have to run for office again …

“But the French election is very important both to France and the values that we care so much about. Because the success of France matters to the entire world.”

Expressing admiration for the campaign Macron has run, stating he “appeals to peoples hopes and not their fears,” Obama issued unqualified backing to the liberal candidate. Telling his friends in France that “because of how important this election is, I also want you to know that I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward. En Marche! Vive la France!”

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The former president’s support of Macron’s “outsider” campaign—which many American political analysts see as somewhat of a proxy matchup between Obama and Donald Trump—was evident in the run-up to the first election. Several of Macron’s key aides have Washington experience. And in the days just before the first round balloting, Obama and Macron spoke by telephone, which the Macron camp publicized at the time.

JOEL SAGET,ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty

Obama remains wildly popular in France. As president, he repaired the relationship with America’s oldest ally, which had frayed during the Bush Administration. During his two terms in office, Obama and his family made several trips —both political and leisure— to France. And in November, 2015, he dramatically capped his overseas presidency by attending the Paris Summit on Climate Change—and doing so just weeks after the Bataclan terror attacks.

Macron’s opponent in Sunday’s final election, Marine Le Pen, has previously received an indication of support from President Trump, who told AP she was “strongest on borders, and she’s strongest on what’s been going on in France.”