Marine Le Pen has surged in the polls in recent weeks and is expected to face off in the second round against Emmanuel Macron in France's presidential elections.
French President Emmanuel Macron has voiced regret for starting campaigning late as opinion polls showed him holding a slender lead over the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
"Who could have understood six weeks ago that all of sudden I would start political rallies, that I would focus on domestic issues when the war started in Ukraine," Macron told RTL radio on Friday.
"So it is a fact that I entered (the campaign) even later than I wished," Macron said, adding that he retained a "spirit of conquest rather than of defeat".
If Le Pen is elected this month, her social programme will drive away international investors from France, Macron said in an interview with daily Le Parisien.
"Her programme will create massive unemployment because it will drive international investors away and it will not hold up budget-wise," he said.
"Her fundamentals have not changed: it is a racist programme that aims to divide society and is very brutal."
Le Pen, vying to become France's first female president, told France Info radio on Friday: "Emmanuel Macron does not know my programme...he must think it is that of (far-left contender) Jean-Luc Melenchon."
Le Pen has surged in the polls in recent weeks and is expected to face off in the second round against Macron, whose re-election was thought to be a foregone conclusion even a few weeks ago.
Macron, a centre-left candidate whose policymaking has drifted to the right, is still ahead in the polls for the second-round match-up, but his lead is within the margin of error.
The first round of the election is on Sunday.
Le Pen, who has patiently worked to soften her image since the 2017 election in which she lost in the second round with about a third of the vote, says she would be a president for all of France if elected.
An Ipsos Sopra Steria Cevipof poll for Le Monde newspaper showed Macron would lead in the first round of votes on April 10, with 26.5 percent versus 21.5 percent for Le Pen in second place.
Those figures compared to 28 percent for Macron and 17.5 percent for Le Pen in the last poll conducted March 21-24, said Ipsos Sopra Steria Cevipof.
Macron would then beat Le Pen in the second round run-off vote on April 24 by 54 percent to 46 percent, according to the poll.