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Far-right icon Jean-Marie Le Pen tweets support for Trump

AFP File

The founder and former leader of France's far-right National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has expressed his support for controversial Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential race.

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"If I were American I would vote for Donald Trump ... may God protect him," tweeted the fiery 87-year-old founder of the National Front (FN), the party now led by his daughter, Marine.

Le Pen was kicked out of the party after a bitter feud with his daughter over his inflammatory, racist and xenophobic comments. Marine le Pen has tried to remake the FN's image as a more moderate party than that of her father to broaden its appeal to voters.

Last year he rehashed familiar comments about Nazi gas chambers being a "detail" of history and said France should get along with Russia to save the "white world".

He has also in the past declared that races are not equal and said in 2014 that Ebola could clear up Europe's immigration problem "in three months".

While the elder Le Pen remains a thorn in the side of the National Front, the party has won increasing support from voters disaffected with the traditional ruling class, much like Trump has done in the United States.

The party drew a record number of votes in December regional polls but failed to win a single region.

'Frankly racist'

Real estate mogul Trump's unlikely recent successes in the US presidential primaries, despite a series of comments tinged by racism and veering towards demagoguery, has stunned observers and shaken the American political establishment to its core.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama dismissed Trump's chances for winning the presidency.

"I continue to believe that Mr Trump will not be president. And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people. And I think they recognise that being president is a serious job," he told reporters in California.

Le Pen's endorsement comes a day after former Mexican president Felipe Calderon compared Trump to Adolf Hitler and said he was "frankly racist".

"I think his logic of exalting white supremacy isn't even acting against immigration   Donald Trump is the descendant of migrants   it is acting and speaking against immigrants who have a different skin colour than him, which is frankly racist and is a bit like the exploitation of raw nerves that Hitler did in his day," Calderon told reporters in Mexico City on Saturday.

Calderon's predecessor, former president Vicente Fox, has also lashed out at Trump   albeit more colourfully   over his pledge to build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants and have Mexico pay for its construction.

“I am not going to pay for that f***ing wall. He should pay for it. He’s got the money,” Fox told Fusion in an excerpt of the interview on the TV network’s website.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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