The Front National (FN) achieved unprecedented success in the 2017 French presidential elections, which poses a significant challenge for how competitors against the far right could counter its appeal. Taking as a starting point the existing literature on mainstream party strategies with regard to the far right, this article develops a novel approach. It draws on the insights of positioning theory to analyse a total of 108 speeches and interviews in which the four main candidates to the French Presidency in the 2017 campaign talk about the far right. We find significant variation in candidates’ patterns of discourse, but also establish that these distinct strategies are better understood as complex hybrids of the categories in the literature.