France's Sarkozy defends economic, personal record

By REUTERS
March 7, 2012 01:28

 
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PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed during a TV debate on Tuesday to halve the number of immigrants and impose a minimum tax on profits of big listed companies as he sought to bolster support for his re-election bid in April.

Sarkozy, grilled by veteran Socialist Laurent Fabius and journalists for three hours on the primetime show, defended his record on tax reform, public finances, and unemployment - which rose on his watch as economic crisis battered the world.

The conservative leader, lagging behind Socialist challenger Francois Hollande in the polls, was also made to apologize for old gaffes and explain his personality traits in a lengthy section about awkward moments in his early presidency.

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