PARIS (AP) — President Nicolas Sarkozy has said during his first major campaign speech that he's not afraid of his record and stands by his unpopular decisions.
Sarkozy, who finally declared his candidacy officially last week after months of trailing in the polls, spoke to thousands of cheering supporters Sunday in the southern city of Marseille.
Though France is facing an unemployment rate nearing 10 percent and has been forced to cut spending and raise taxes, Sarkozy says his leadership has ensured that it was better off than its neighbors.
He says "the truth doesn't scare me" and that he stands by decisions like raising the retirement age.
He took aim at his Socialist opponent, Francois Hollande, who is leading polls for the spring elections, accusing him of doublespeak and pandering for votes.