World

French president comforts nation amid attacks; prime minister takes combative stance

  • French President Francois Hollande holds a medal in front of the coffin of Police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris, France, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015.  Clarissa Jean Philippe was killed by Ahmed Coulibaly last week in Paris. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)

    French President Francois Hollande holds a medal in front of the coffin of Police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris, France, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. Clarissa Jean Philippe was killed by Ahmed Coulibaly last week in Paris. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • French President Francois Hollande, second from left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, join other dignitaries, heads of government and heads of state as they march during a rally in Paris, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. More than 40 world leaders, their arms linked, marched through Paris Sunday to rally for unity and freedom of expression and to honor 17 victims of three days of terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

    French President Francois Hollande, second from left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, join other dignitaries, heads of government and heads of state as they march during a rally in Paris, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. More than 40 world leaders, their arms linked, marched through Paris Sunday to rally for unity and freedom of expression and to honor 17 victims of three days of terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)  (The Associated Press)

French President Francois Hollande comforted and united his nation during its worst terrorist attacks in decades, transforming himself from the most unpopular leader of modern France into the "father of the nation" and a statesman who brought world leaders together to link arms and march through Paris to defy extremism.

His prime minister, Manuel Valls, also emerged stronger after the three days of terrorist attacks that left 20 dead, managing the muscular operational reaction including deploying thousands of troops and police.

At least for now, the two Socialists' handling of the crisis could boost their standing, and may play a role in voters' minds if either or both seek the presidency in 2017.