French election: Marine Le Pen caught up in plagiarism row

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Paris (CNN)Marine Le Pen's campaign has been hit by allegations that she plagiarized a defeated rival during a speech to supporters days ahead of the French presidential election.

The far-right candidate, who was addressing supporters in Villepinte, north of Paris, is accused of using extracts from a speech given by Republican candidate Francois Fillon last month.
Le Pen, who trails Emmanuel Macron in the polls, appeared to repeat phrases used by Fillon in a speech on April 15, eight days before he was knocked out of the presidential election race.
The similarities were picked up by French press and social media as Le Pen, who temporarily stood down as leader of the National Front last month, continued with her speech.

What did she say?

During her speech, Le Pen made mention of France's "three maritime borders" with the English Channel, North Sea and Atlantic -- the same phrase used by Fillon in his speech.
She also spoke of France's relationship with Italy, referring to "Italy, our sister" -- a phrase Fillon also used.
Le Pen then used a quote from former French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau -- the exact one Fillon cited.
"Once a soldier of God, and now a soldier of Liberty, France will always be the soldier of the ideal," Fillon had quoted Clemenceau as saying.
Le Pen's aides moved to quash allegations that she had plagiarized almost immediately.
Florian Philippot, vice-president of the National Front, told AFP that it was "a deliberate shout out to a moving part of a speech about France made by a candidate that shows she is not sectarian."
Campaign manager David Rachline also defended his candidate, claiming Le Pen was simply using her speech to court Fillon supporters.
"I do think this shout out was much appreciated, even by Mr Fillon's supporters," he told France's TV2.

Setback?

This latest issue has capped a difficult week for Le Pen ahead of Wednesday's final televised debate.
The two candidates will go head-to-head for the final time where they will hope to persuade undecided voters before polls open on Sunday.
According to polls released in the past 24 hours, Le Pen continues to trail by about 20 points.