Former President Barack Obama spoke on the phone Thursday with French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, hinting at his support just days ahead of French presidential voting Sunday.
“President Obama spoke on the phone to Emmanuel Macron this morning,” Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis said in a statement Thursday. “President Obama appreciated the opportunity to hear from Mr. Macron about his campaign and the important upcoming presidential election in France, a country that President Obama remains deeply committed to as a close ally of the United States, and as a leader on behalf of liberal values in Europe and around the world.”
“An endorsement was not the purpose of the call, as President Obama is not making any formal endorsement in advance of the run-off election on Sunday,” Lewis added, though the clarification did not stop speculation that the call was Obama’s way of signaling favor for the candidate.
Macron, a centrist option among the four most prominent candidates on the ballot Sunday, started his own movement, En Marche!, in an attempt to hold elected office for the first time. He was an investment banker and, eventually, economic minister in François Hollande’s Socialist government before resigning in 2016 to run for office.
“Emmanuel Macron warmly thanked Barack Obama for his friendly call,” En Marche! said in its own statement, Reuters reported.
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote on Sunday, there will be a run-off election between the two top vote-getters on May 7.
On Sunday, Macron will face off against the anti-immigrant far-right Marine Le Pen, scandal-ridden center-right François Fillon and protectionist far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose viral support among young people has earned him comparisons to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
This post has been updated.