French Socialists keep distance from Strauss-Kahn

September 15, 2011
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French candidates for the 2011 Socialist party primary elections before France's 2012 presidential election, from the left, Arnaud Montebourg, Jean-Michel Baylet, Francois Hollande, Martine Aubry, Manuel Valls and Segolene Royal take part in a televised debate on a French TV channel, Thursday Sept. 15, 2011. Socialist leaders will hold three debates and are seeking the party's nomination next month for presidential elections in May 2012. Writing reads: Talks and acts, the primary debate. (AP Photo/Patrick Kovarik, Pool)

PARIS (AP) — Leading French presidential hopefuls have distanced themselves from Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the first public debate of the campaign.

The former IMF chief was considered the potential front-runner for next year's presidential elections until his arrest in New York in May over accusations he tried to rape a hotel maid. The case was dropped last month, but Strauss-Kahn still faces other legal problems.

Leading hopefuls from Strauss-Kahn's Socialist Party held a televised debate Thursday night. Francois Hollande, who tops polls before the party's primary next month, shrugged off a question about Strauss-Kahn's political future.

Other Socialists said there was no reason to discuss Strauss-Kahn.

Strauss-Kahn is expected to speak publicly for the first time since the arrest on French television on Sunday.