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Dem Senator Cautions That Any Macron Fail Could Spark 'Another Round of Populism'

WASHINGTON — The White House congratulated French President-elect Emmanuel Macron after his landslide victory over Marine Le Pen on Sunday, while a top House Dem congratulated the French for rejecting a Trump-style campaign.

Macron took 66.1 percent of the vote compared to 33.9 percent for Le Pen. “I’m aware of the divisions in our nation which have led some people to extreme votes. I respect them,” Macron said in his victory speech in front of The Louvre. “I’m aware of the anger, anxiety and doubts that a large proportion of you have also expressed. It’s my responsibility to listen to them while protecting the most fragile, by better organizing solidarity, by combating all forms of inequality and discrimination, by implacably and resolutely ensuring your security, and by guaranteeing the nation’s unity.”

Macron walked out to the European Union anthem, before the French national anthem was played onstage.

“I’ll defend France, its vital interests, its image and its message: I make that commitment to you. I’ll defend Europe, the common destiny the peoples of our continent have given themselves,” he said. “Our civilization is at stake, our way of living, of being free, of promoting our values, our common enterprises and our hopes. I’ll work to rebuild the link between Europe and the people it is made up of, between Europe and citizens.”

Le Pen said she would focus on parliamentary elections next month and vowed to create “a new political force” by rebranding her National Front party.

President Trump, who tweeted after an April attack on the Champs-Élysée in which a police officer was killed that it would “have a big effect on presidential election” and told the Associated Press that Le Pen was “strongest on borders and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France,” tweeted congratulations to Macron: “Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France. I look very much forward to working with him!”

The White House followed with a statement from press secretary Sean Spicer: “We congratulate President-elect Macron and the people of France on their successful presidential election. We look forward to working with the new president and continuing our close cooperation with the French government.”

In a statement Sunday night, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) congratulated Macron “on his resounding victory,” adding “the French people have chosen hope over fear, chosen to look forward rather than backward.”

“They have rejected the kind of divisive campaigning, assisted by fake news and Russian hacks, that propelled Donald Trump into office in our country,” Hoyer said. “They have struck a blow for inclusive, tolerant democracy against the tide of extremism and xenophobia.”

“I look forward to supporting President-Elect Macron’s efforts to preserve the European Union and to strengthen the liberal international order that has brought security to the United States, France, our NATO partners, and our other allies since the end of the Second World War.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told MSNBC this morning that he thinks Le Pen in part lost because of a “just poisonous” debate performance.

“She engaged in the sort of mudslinging that characterized her father’s career in politics more than hers and the nation looked at it and said she’s just not ready to run the country and her values don’t reflect France’s political values,” Coons said. “Macron is young and untested and it’s entirely possible that he will try and face up to the security and economic challenges that France faces and fail, and that there will be another round of populism.”

Coons cautioned that no one should take “too much comfort” from Macron’s win, “but if you look at the outcome in the Austrian elections, the Dutch elections, and now the French elections, there is a reassuring trend of a willingness barely for these countries to stay in the E.U., to stay in the common project of NATO.”

The top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), said in a statement that he felt the result “was much bigger than the candidacy of Mr. Macron – it sent the strongest possible message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that his worldview has once again been rejected by European voters who embrace democratic values, human rights, and institutions such as the European Union.”

“In spite of allegations of Russian interference similar to that seen in our country last year, democratic institutions across France proved resilient,” Cardin added. “I hope that French authorities will conduct a full investigation into the scope of Russian interference in order to build even better defenses for the future and to share lessons with other democracies vulnerable to Russian aggression.”

Russian-affiliated hackers who were tied to the influence operation in the U.S. presidential election have been tied to a “massive and coordinated” attack on Macron’s campaign.