Sarkozy "get lost" video becomes Internet hit

PARIS (Reuters) - A video of French President Nicolas Sarkozy telling a bystander to “get lost” has become a hit on the Internet.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) shakes hand with visitors at the International Agricultural Fair at the Porte de Versailles in Paris February 23, 2008. REUTERS/Thibault Camus/Pool

Sarkozy was filmed by a journalist from the daily Le Parisien on a walkabout at the annual farm fair in Paris on Saturday.

Sarkozy offered his hand to a man who said: “Don’t touch me, you are soiling me.” In reply, Sarkozy said, without dropping his smile: “Get lost, dumb ass.”

The video was posted on Le Parisien’s website and by midday on Sunday it had been seen by more than 350,000 people, a spokeswoman for the newspaper said.

“It has created quite a controversy,” she said. The video is the first to come up when searching for Sarkozy on Dailymotion and YouTube.

Sarkozy’s popularity ratings are in freefall and his hands-on style of government is attracting growing criticism.

In November, Sarkozy had a heated exchange with fishermen during protests against rising fuel costs. The president challenged a fisherman who had insulted him.

“Come down and say that,” Sarkozy, elected in May, was quoted as saying. “Don’t think that by insulting me you will solve fishermen’s problems.”

After the incident, Sarkozy said he refused to have insults hurled at him and would only accept a dialogue between “civilized people.”

Francois Hollande, head of the Socialist party, said Sarkozy was not behaving like a head of state and called on him to improve his behavior.

“One should not get into a brawl...One does not call down a fisherman or a worker to explain what he said, one does not get into a fight with someone who does not want to shake your hand,” Hollande said on pay-TV channel Canal plus.

Sarkozy’s spokesman, David Martinon, declined to comment on the fair incident.

The number of people satisfied with the president fell 9 percentage points in a month to 38 percent, according to an Ifop poll in the Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche.

Editing by Robert Woodward