French President Nicolas Sarkozy has bluntly declared that a harsh downgrade by Standard & Poor's of France's formerly top-tier debt rating "changes nothing" for the eurozone's No. 2 economy.
Sarkozy suggested that a solid market showing for a French debt auction Monday and a reaffirmation from rival ratings agency Moody's of France's triple-A sovereign debt offset the much-ballyhooed S&P downgrade.
The French leader called for a "calm" reaction to that downgrade on Friday and showed a snippy side in an exchange with a reporter during a news conference with Spain's new prime minister, Mariano Rajoy.
Sarkozy's challengers for the presidency say the S&P downgrade exposes wrong-headed and ineffective policies. France holds its presidential election in two rounds in April and May.