By Brian Love and Jean-Paul PELISSIER
PARIS/LE GRAU DU ROI, France (Reuters) – France’s presidential candidates battled for the popular vote on Thursday with far-right Marine Le Pen wooing fishermen and Emmanuel Macron playing soccer as polls showed the centrist’s commanding lead narrow marginally.
As runner-up in last Sunday’s opening ballot, Le Pen remained the underdog, but several polls suggested she had made a more impressive start to the last lap of campaigning than Macron.
A daily Opinionway poll saw Macron’s predicted score dipping to 59 percent for the first time since mid-March.
Election graphic: http://tmsnrt.rs/2p6zUPE
First round election graphic: http://tmsnrt.rs/2lPduBG
A Harris survey showed Macron garnering 61 percent of voting intentions, but suggested momentum was on Le Pen’s side as the centrist’s lead narrowed by several percentage points.
Dressed in fishermen’s yellow oilskins, Le Pen, 48, grappled with a freshly caught octopus on a fishing boat out at sea first thing on Thursday. She told reporters on the quayside she would defend seafarers and all endangered sectors against invasive EU regulations.
“Let me warn you, that man (Macron) will destroy our entire social and economic structure,” she told a horde of journalists at Le Grau du Roi, a port west of Marseille.
Macron, a 39-year-old who did a stint as economy minister in the outgoing Socialist government before breaking away to launch his own political movement, mocked her photo opportunity.
“Madame Le Pen has gone fishing. Enjoy the outing. The exit from Europe that she is proposing will spell the end of French fisheries,” he tweeted.
Macron took his campaign to Sarcelles, a poor Parisian suburb with a large community of North African and sub-Saharan African descent where more than one in three young people are out of work, double the national average.
In stark contrast to Wednesday, when he was heckled by factory workers in northern France, the ex-banker was greeted to cheers and kicked a…