French Launch Campaign to Recruit Obama for President

Jack Brockway/Richard Branson, Virgin.com
Former U.S. president Barack Obama

Campaigners have launched a petition and plastered posters all over Paris to encourage Obama to run.

Barack Obama may be enjoying his free time, but French campaigners are begging him to get back to work. In France.

Stealth campaigners have launched a plea for the former U.S. president to run for the top office in France, plastering hundreds of posters of a beaming Obama in front of the French red, white and blue flag around Paris. 

Called Obama17, it’s an effort to recruit Obama as France is in the midst of its own contentious presidential election.  

The organizers, who have chosen to remain anonymous, plastered 500 posters around Paris and launched an online petition that aims to get 1 million voters before March 15 to support his candidacy. 

Nevermind the legality, the website's slogan is the familiar "Yes we can!"

Obama’s not a French citizen and technically not eligible for the position, or event to vote, but organizers say the French need “to make radical choices.” 

The first round of voting is set for April 23, and if no candidate receives more than 50 percent the top two candidates will face a runoff in May.

The campaign so far has been tainted with scandal and right-wing rhetoric, with the far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen and the conservative Les Republicains candidate Francois Fillon both involved in various hiring scandals, and socialist candidate Benoit Hamon and leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon trailing in the polls.

The party candidates are all relative outsiders, with Fillon a surprise win beating former president Nicolas Sarkozy for his party’s nomination, and current president Francois Hollande stepping aside in the socialist race only to see his chosen successor Manuel Valls lose to Hamon.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron launched his own political party En Marche (Forward), partly styled after Obama’s first candidacy especially focusing on digital outreach and targeting young voters.

The Obama17 website calls for a 6th Republic, meaning constitutional reform, but points out that the former U.S. president “has the best resume in the world … so why not hire him as the president of France?”

Le Pen is expected to make it to the second round when the top two candidates face off, though she’s not expected to win at the final vote. Organizers say “it is still possible to vote for a president and not against a candidate.”

Obama, who has been spotted vacationing with British billionaire Richard Branson, has not yet responded to the proposal. 

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