Merkel challenger Schulz: I may have believed own hype

Chancellor Angela Merkel's challenger in Germany's general election says he may have been swayed by the hype over his nomination as his party tries to recover from a humiliating defeat in a state vote.

Martin Schulz was nominated in January as the center-left Social Democrats' challenger in the Sept. 24 election, generating a so-called "Schulz effect" that pushed up his party's poll ratings. But three state election flops followed — the worst on Sunday, when Merkel's conservatives ousted a Social Democrat-led government in North Rhine-Westphalia, a center-left stronghold.

Schulz told Wednesday's edition of Die Zeit weekly: "I warned from the beginning against the Schulz hype. But I can't rule out that I let myself be impressed by it."

Schulz said he "should have come earlier with concrete substance."