Alain Juppe kicks off his campaign to be the conservative candidate in France's presidential election by pledging deep reforms ''without exploiting fears'', seeking to differentiate himself from hardline rival Nicolas Sarkozy. Diane Hodges reports.
Former French prime minister Alain Juppe struck a kinder, gentler tone when he kicked off his campaign to become France's next president. He promised to be tough on crime, without exploiting people's fears. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND MAYOR OF BORDEAUX, ALAIN JUPPE, SAYING: "France needs to be united now more than ever because it is in a state of shock. Let us begin by not getting sucked into the eternal ideology debates, which is our speciality. Let us act." The 71-year-old Juppe and former President Nicolas Sarkozy are the top two candidates in France's November primaries. The country has been traumatized by a series of deadly attacks during the past 18 months. But Sarkozy's warnings that France's identity is "at threat" from immigration have alienated many French voters. (SOUNDBITE) (French) JUPPE SUPPORTER, CHRISTOPHE, SAYING: "When you want to govern, you steer the ship one way and you hold it and you don't try to navigate at the whim of every event." Juppe, with his quieter style, has led Sarkozy in opinion polls for months. The winner of the conservative primaries is very likely to make it to the second round of the country's presidential election and become France's next head of state.