PARIS – France's first lady says in an interview published Wednesday that she regrets posting on Twitter a comment that many French read as a not-so-veiled dig against the mother of President Francois Hollande's four children.
Nearly four months after causing the stir now dubbed "Tweetgate" in France, Valerie Trierweiler told regional newspaper Ouest-France that her comment on Twitter was a "mistake" and she's learned from it.
During France's legislative elections in June, Trierweiler sent tongues wagging by tweeting words of encouragement to a dissident Socialist who was running against Segolene Royal -- Hollande's former partner. Royal was vying to represent a region in western France, and ended up losing.
Trierweiler, a professional journalist who once hosted her own cable TV show, admitted that she had been clumsy, and hadn't yet realized that after Hollande took office in May she was "no more just a simple citizen."
"It won't happen again," she was quoted as saying of the tweet.
Trierweiler took the comment off her Twitter account weeks ago, but the fallout lives on: A leading satirical TV show continues to parody the alleged rivalry between Trierweiler and Royal, with Hollande depicted as uncomfortable -- and essentially powerless to stop it -- in the middle.
A new poll released Wednesday suggests that most French don't have a positive opinion of Trierweiler. Hollande's popularity, meanwhile, has been sliding in recent months -- although that's likely due to a variety of factors including a sluggish French economy and high joblessness.
Asked whether her fellow journalists had been unfair over the tweet, Trierweiler told Ouest-France: "The handling (of it) especially seemed out of proportion to me."
The twice-divorced mother of three says she's now getting a better grasp of her role as first lady. For example, she said in the interview that she had decided not to take up a new "humanitarian-minded" TV project that drew recent media reports.
"I understand that, for some people, being the president's partner and working for a television station could raise questions, even cause problems," she said.
Trierweiler recently took up a role with the humanitarian foundation founded by Danielle Mitterrand, the late wife of former President Francois Mitterrand -- France's only other postwar Socialist head of state aside from Hollande.
"Being at the side of the president requires me to look at things differently, to have concerns that are less personal," Trierweiler said.