Martin Schulz is running against Angela Merkel in September's German elections
The former President of the European Parliament has announced he will lead a centre-left campaign to try to unseat Chancellor Merkel who has held office since 2005.
Mr Schulz, viewed as the most serious challenger to Mrs Merkel in a decade, embarked on a series of political chat show appearances after confirming he will run in the September elections.
The 61-year-old said: “Germany needs a new start that cannot happen with the Christian Democratic Union.
"We've come to the end of what we can achieve with divided conservatives."
Germans have been bitterly divided by Mrs Merkel's "open door" immigration policy, which saw more than 1.1 million migrants and refugees enter the country over the past two years.
Martin Schulz compared himself to Barack Obama when asked about leadership experience
Barack Obama also had no government experience when he moved into the White House
A spate of terror attacks carried out by Syrian and Afghan refugees sparked unprecedented hostility towards foreigners in a country renowned for its tolerance and boosted support for populist right-wing parties such as Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), which is currently in third place in the race.
When asked if he had the experience to lead the country he compared himself to the immediate past president of the USA.
He said: ”Barack Obama also had no government experience when he moved into the White House.”
Mr Schulz has proved adept at the soundbite and is riding a wave of self-confidence after confirming his candidacy.
Martin Schulz with Chancellor Angela Merkel
He said: ”I’m practically the better candidate, not just emotionally.
"Of course you also think about what it would be like to lose. But I'm a born fighter."
"If it continues like this every week then I'm not worried.
"Some things are not wrong just because Angela Merkel says them."
Martin Schulz took a thinly-veiled swipe at Donald Trump
'MERKEL MUST GO': Brussels protest against German Chancellor
Thu, January 12, 2017
Angry campaigners held placards with slogans reading 'Merkel not welcomed' and 'Merkel must go' following a spate of terror attacks against Germany.
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Protest on the sidelines of Angela Merkel's official visit in Brussels
In a brief speech announcing his candidacy, Mr Schulz vowed a "zero tolerance" policy on crime, adding: "I'm liberal, but not stupid."
He went on to criticise the US election campaign, saying that the "lack of decency" in the debates "shocked me deeply."
He said: ”It opened up rifts and destroyed much in a country which once stood for freedom and tolerance. That mustn't happen to us in Germany."
And in a veiled attack on populist leaders such as Donald Trump, Mr Schulz said: "Pied Pipers are trying to capitalise on the backs of refugees. This is shameful and repulsive."