"I want to tell my wife Carla and my children: I feel you had to go through a lot because of me. It is a challenge to live side by side with a person who is always at the center of passions. So it is time for me to start a life where there are more private passions and fewer public ones," he told a cheering crowd.
The newest results of Sunday’s primaries show Francois Fillon in the lead with 44 percent of votes, followed by Alain Juppe with 28.1 percent. Sarkozy came third with 21.1 percent of votes. A total of 3.2 million cast their ballots.
Next week’s runoff will pit the top two contenders for the party’s nomination. The winner will face far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential election in spring 2017.