Sarkozy continuing his favourite themes of security and pride in being French.
"I want to be able to talk about the nation without being called a nationalist," Sarkozy told a rally in the southern city of Montpellier.
"It will be worrying times for France if Sarkozy wins the presidency"
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"I want to be able to talk about authority without being called an authoritarian."
Latest polls showed as many as 88 per cent of voters have made up their minds before the deciding ballot.
Commentators think Royal has a mountain to climb in catching up with Sarkozy.
"To get back to his level, Segolene Royal would have had to achieve the impossible," conservative daily Le Figaro said.
"But we're a long way from that."
But socialists said polls were inaccurate, while many newspapers judged Wednesday's two-hour debate as a draw.
"Each camp will celebrate its champion and deride the adversary," the daily Le Parisien newspaper said.
The debate, viewed by more than 20 million people, was seen as being influential in winning over the nearly seven million voters who had backed centrist Francois Bayrou in the first round on April 22.
The Ipsos/Dell poll found Bayrou supporters were splitting equally between Sarkozy and Royal.