GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul on Tuesday abruptly backed out of his meeting with a controversial French political leader whose party has been connected to anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant violence in France.
Although the Texas Republican’s office did not respond to a request for comment, according to a report in Agence France-Presse, Paul’s office canceled his meeting with National Front leader Marine Le Pen because of a scheduling conflict.
According to London’s Telegraph, National Front officials accused French political leaders of actively working to sabotage Le Pen’s visit to the Capitol today and it said this pressure is what led Paul to scrap his planned meeting.
“It’s not impossible that by putting calls, they put him off meeting [her],” party vice president Louis Alliot told the French newspaper Libération, according to the Telegraph.
According to Le Pen’s schedule of events, she is still expected to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill today, including a potential meeting with a Democratic Member.
When news of the planned meeting between Le Pen and Paul broke last month, Paul’s office defended his decision, saying in a statement that he “generally meets with foreign politicians and political leaders who request a meeting, particularly when they share his interest in monetary policy and the destructive nature of central banks.”
Le Pen is one of the most controversial figures in French politics. Her father, Jean-Marie, founded the National Front.
The elder Le Pen, who led the National Front until his daughter took over last year, has been one of France’s most divisive political figures. In 2004, a French court fined him 10,000 euros for “inciting racial hatred” in a newspaper interview, according to an Associated Press article at the time. Le Pen had been found guilty of racism or anti-Semitism a total of six times as of 2004, according to the AP.