Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy are planning to have their first child together in 2011 to aid the French president's chances of clinching a second term the following year, a French magazine is speculating.
Rumours that France's first couple had set a precise date for starting a family were revealed by the popular weekly magazine Voici.
Mr Sarkozy, 54, has three children from two previous marriages, while his Italian-born former supermodel wife, 41, has one son from a previous relationship.
Quoting sources in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, Voici wrote: "The presidential couple are thought to have chosen to keep the 'pregnancy card' up their sleeve to ensure public sympathy ahead of the next presidential campaign in 2012. The rumour has been circulating for several weeks."
Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy has made no secret of the fact that the couple hope to have a child together. "I'm not pregnant and I regret it because I love it when I am. Will it happen? It's difficult for me to say. It's much more difficult at 40 than it is at 25," she said in an interview last year.
But neither she nor her husband has ever set a birth date.
In an interview in March, the first lady said she would consider adopting a child if it was not "biologically possible" to have one with her husband.
The pair were said to have come up with the new plan "some time ago" but became even more convinced that it was the right strategic choice since the "incredible public support" Mr Sarkozy received after falling ill and collapsing while jogging last month.
A poll published after his heath scare showed a 12 per cent rise among those who think he is succeeding as head of state.
Overall, 53 per cent of the French people believe Mr Sarkozy makes "a good president", compared to 41 per cent in May.
The arrival of a presidential newborn so soon before the next election, in which Mr Sarkozy is almost certain to run, could help him win vital votes, the magazine suggested.