Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush lightheartedly apologized to the French for referencing their workweek to insult rival Marco Rubio during last week’s primary debate.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday while campaigning in New Hampshire, the former Florida governor said that it was wrong to criticize the French when attempting to make an issue of Mr. Rubio’s poor Senate voting record.
“I made the mistake of saying that the Congress operates on a French workweek,” he told Time magazine.
“I now know that the average French workweek is actually greater than the German workweek,” Mr. Bush continued. “So, my God, I totally insulted an entire country — our first ally — that helped us become free as a nation! And I apologize. That did a huge disservice to France. It didn’t really get to the magnitude of the problem: Three-day workweek.”
During the Oct. 28 Republican debate, Mr. Bush challenged Mr. Rubio over his attendance record with a statement that ultimately backfired, Time reported.
“The Senate, what is it like, a French workweek?” Mr. Bush asked. “You get, like, three days where you have to show up?”
The line drew backlash from French ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud.
“A French work week of 3 days? No but a pregnancy paid leave of 16 weeks yes! And proud of it,” Mr. Araud wrote on Twitter.
The White House also spoke out in favor of the French lifestyle.
“It certainly seems to be a quality of life that many French people have warmly embraced, as they should,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said during a press conference Thursday.