FRENCH leader Nicolas Sarkozy promised yesterday to be a "different president" if re-elected, conceding he had acted too impulsively at times in his first term.
It was the latest in a string of mea culpas by the conservative incumbent as he attempts to further close the gap on Francois Hollande, his Socialist rival.
A poll in yesterday's 'Le Figaro' put him in the lead with 28pc, one point ahead of Mr Hollande, for the first round on April 22. But Mr Hollande is still eight points clear in round two with 54pc support.
"I will already have been president for five years and you don't repeat mistakes already made," Mr Sarkozy told 'Paris Match'.
"The main one is to think I was still a minister. As a minister you need to be reactive and fast-acting, but as president you need, along with being reactive, to be able to step back from things and you also need to stand back and be solemn."
Despondency on the right at the start of Mr Sarkozy's campaign has given way to cautious hope as he has whittled down Mr Hollande's lead.
His camp had banked on a poll bounce for his handling of the Toulouse killings by the al-Qa'ida gunman Mohamed Merah, who was shot dead by police last Thursday.
A poll yesterday found that 65pc of French approved of the president's handling of the Merah crisis, while the murders thrust issues of security and immigration -- seen as Mr Sarkozy's strong points -- to the forefront of the campaign. (© Daily Telegraph, London)