Hollande counterpunches after weeks of body blows

France's President Francois Hollande makes a statement to the press during the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor Hotel in Newport, South Wales, on September 4, 2014French President Francois Hollande launched a blistering counterattack Friday, saying he had no intention of throwing in the towel after weeks of political, economic and personal body blows that have seen him plumb new depths of unpopularity. For the first time, he hit back at the explosive claims penned by his former partner and first lady Valerie Trierweiler, the most damaging of which was that he secretly despised the poor, calling them the “toothless”. Only one percent of French people said they had “total confidence” in Hollande “to resolve the problems France is currently facing”. Hollande’s loyal Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned before France departed on its long summer holiday that the “rentree” — the return from the beach — would be “difficult”, but few could have seen the series of crises the president would have to endure.

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