It was the longest French presidential debate in history, reports Le Nouvel Observateur — a little more than 2.5 hours, or about as long as any bad date should last. But at least it was dramatic: Unlike the liturgical format of the American presidential debates, the French format resembles Hannity & Colmes more than anything else. Segolene, appearing austere and serene, seemed more than ready for her often-cranky rival.
Royal entered behind in the polls and needed a big win tonight. If her strategy had been to make the normally combative Nicholas Sarkozy lose his formidable temper by losing hers, the gambit failed miserably. Calling Sarko a liar and accusing him of political immorality, she ranted on so relentlessly that at one point even the moderators had to ask her to chill.
The debate was highly anticipated. It’s the only time before the vote on Sunday the two will meet, and it’s doubtful the angry debate changed many minds — Royal certainly didn’t get the KO she needed — but I’ll try to round up some press clips for Friday.