NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.— The niece of far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen delivered one of the first addresses at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, calling for unity among conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic to unit against immigration and globalism.
But some of those attending the largest conservative conference in the U.S. were wary of associating with Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a former member of the French Parliament, because of herrole in the French far-right National Front party, which lost last year’s presidential election to centrist Emmanuel Macron. The National Front’s platform blends conservative social policies with liberal economic policies, such as universal health care, causing some to question whether she is a good choice to address the American Conservative Union.
“It’s questionable because CPAC is all about limited government,” said University of Dayton student John Spellman, when asked about Maréchal-Le Pen’s politics. “Socially, I think personally the government should stay out of all that stuff.”
Still, many were interested in at least hearing what she had to say and saw her inclusion as an example of representing the spectrum of conservativism.
“I think it’s great. I think the more voices, the better. Diversity is good,” said Louise Frederickson of Indianapolis. “It’s not going to hurt my ears to hear a different voice.”
Bill Wirtz wrote on The American Conservative that “they went for the invite anyway because she makes a consistent anti-immigration case and ‘triggers’ leftists and moderate conservatives.”
In her speech, Maréchal-Le Pen called on conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic to come together, and highlighted the historic bond between France and the United States.
“It was by French blood spilled on American soil that our friendship began,” Maréchel-Le Pen said. “Today, here at CPAC, we are once again standing side-by-side in another battle for freedom.”
That battle, she explained, is being waged over gender identity, globalism and immigration, chiefly of Muslims to France.
“After 40 years of mass immigration, Islamic lobbies and political correctness, France is in the process of passing from the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church to the little niece of Islam,” she said.
France has not been a Catholic country since 1905 when it established state secularism.
Suzanne Fodor, of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania said that Maréchal-Le Pen’s views on immigration rang true for Americans.
“I think that what they’re going through in Europe, in a lot of different areas,” said Fodor. “Especially the immigration area, which has been going on a much longer time there, is something that we can be aware of as we struggle with people who want to set up sanctuary cities.”
Maréchal-Le Pen’s grandfather and the National Front’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, became infamous in France for anti-Semitic and racist statements. While her aunt, Marine, has attempted to mend the image of the National Front by bringing it closer to the center, Marion is considered to be more socially conservative and closer to her grandfather’s politics.
She summed up those beliefs by railing against the liberal social order she said is eroding Western civilization.
“We don’t want the atomized world of individuals without gender, without fathers, without mother, and without nations,” she said.
This was the first political appearance for Maréchal-Le Pen since she announced that she was stepping away from politics after her aunt’s defeat.