"It is difficult when you are the president not to respond to an insult," Sarkozy said in a question-and-answer session with readers of the popular Le Parisien newspaper published Tuesday.
"I should have not responded to him," he said.
In the footage posted on several websites, Sarkozy is seen moving through the crowd at the annual agriculture fair on Saturday when a man tells him:"Oh no, don't touch me." The president, still smiling, responds: "Get lost, then."
"You disgust me," the man says.
"Get lost, you stupid bastard," Sarkozy fires back.
His outburst at the hugely popular farm show was caught on video and collected hundreds of thousands of hits on the Internet, at a time when Sarkozy is struggling with a steep drop in his approval ratings.
"It's not because you're the president that you become someone you can wipe your feet with," commented Sarkozy of the incident.
Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier on Monday defended Sarkozy, saying that it was the man from the crowd who had acted rudely and that the president had merely responded in kind.
Fillon said he found it "totally abnormal that someone would refuse to shake the hand of the president."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Şubat 2008, 12:11