Niece of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen key speaker at US conservative summit
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A young politician who was the rising star of France's far-right National Front until she left politics is stepping into the limelight on the other side of the Atlantic, appearing Thursday as a speaker at a major forum for American Conservatives.
Former lawmaker Marion Marechal-Le Pen, 28, disappeared from the public eye last year after aunt Marine Le Pen, president of the National Front party, suffered a crushing loss in France's presidential race to Emmanuel Macron.
She is scheduled to follow U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the podium on the opening day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. President Donald Trump is to address the group on Friday.
French media suggests the appearance of Marechal-Le Pen, tipped to be a potential leader for the National Front, foreshadows a return to politics as her aunt struggles to give new life - and perhaps a new name - to the party.
But the ambitions of Marechal-Le Pen - whose views are more conservative than her aunt's - appear more far-reaching. She says she wants to open a political science academy to spread the conservative gospel.
"Our vocation? To detect and train the leaders of tomorrow," she wrote in a commentary in this week's edition of the conservative magazine Valeurs Actuelles. She did not provide details of when and where the school would be launched.
"We want to be the place where all currents of the right can meet and flower," she wrote.
Marechal-Le Pen has managed to stay out of the Le Pen family feud pitting aunt Marine against her grandfather, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was expelled from membership in the National Front he founded in 1972 for racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
A court confirmed recently that his title of honorary president for life cannot be withdrawn. Doing away with that status is among measures to be voted on at a party congress next month.
Marechal-Le Pen has reportedly not remained in touch with either her aunt or grandfather.