Orbán receives warm welcome from CPAC after ‘mixed race’ talk returns

“Globalists can all go to hell,” Orbán said to rapturous applause. “I came to Texas.”

One of the very first guests to speak at the three-day conference, Orbán’s speech to CPAC comes amid a swift international backlash for the prime minister over his July 23 comments that Hungary must not become a “mixed” country, pointing the finger at other nations. in Europe with large immigrant populations. One of Orbán’s top aides resigned over his comments, saying his speech sounded like a “Nazi”.

But in a half-empty convention hall at the start of CPAC, as expected, Orbán received a welcome greeting from American activists who seemed unfamiliar with — but intrigued by — his policy of increasing government spending to promote traditional marriage and encourage citizens to have more children.

To the extent that CPAC rallies provide an opportunity to reinforce emerging themes in conservative politics with Republican stalwarts, there are signs that a growing number of right-wing politicians are embracing this type of nationalist populism, which increases government spending. to ease the burden on citizens with children – while condemning gay families, transgender rights and open borders.

“Politics is not enough,” Orbán said. “This war is a culture war. We must revitalize our churches, our families, our universities and our community institutions.

Ahead of the conference, CPAC organizers weren’t rushing to defend Orbán’s comments about race — but made it clear that the Hungarian prime minister was still a welcome guest at their Dallas conference. Matt Schlapp, who chairs the American Conservative Union which hosts CPAC, said after Orbán’s controversial remarks that the conference would “let the man do the talking”.

And Schlapp and his organization, like Tucker Carlson and other right-wing American commentators, developed a warm relationship with Orbán and his government in Hungary. In May, CPAC held its first conference in Hungary, where former President Donald Trump addressed the audience via video. On Tuesday, Orbán was greeted by Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, where he called the Hungarian leader a “friend.”

Ede and Lilla Vessey, a married couple living in Dallas, wore “Hungary” t-shirts at CPAC on Thursday, a nod to their homeland.

The reaction to Orbán’s “mestizo” remarks was “a bit exaggerated”, said Ede Vessey, saying the prime minister was referring to a clash of cultures that took place in some Western European countries which accepted refugees mainly from Muslim countries.

“Hungary is a very small country, and you really can’t compare with the United States,” said Lilla Vessey. “It’s just not the same thing.”

They hailed the Hungarian government’s strong support for young married couples – a strategy the Orbán administration has employed to boost the country’s birth rate – and suggested that American conservatives should adopt similar policies. Some Republican politicians are beginning to advocate for bigger tax credits for families with children, including Ohio Senate hopeful JD Vance, who is a CPAC Texas speaker, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla .), who says he’s working to pass legislation to provide more government resources to new mothers.

“That’s why Mr. Orbán is so popular there, because he’s family friendly,” Lilla Vessey said. “We went to Budapest recently and people are very happy with him.”

Orbán has enjoyed wide support in Hungary – where his political party has effectively established its own media empire, funded in part by the government – ​​although he is shunned by much of the rest of the European Union. The Hungarian prime minister has had close ties with Russia and China since returning to power a decade ago, and he has distanced himself from his European colleagues and NATO allies who are trying to impose tough sanctions on Russia in its war with Ukraine.

But even some of Orbán’s top conservative allies have stood up to his defense with his most recent comments.

Most CPAC attendees, of course, are not voracious consumers of Hungarian news or students of Orbán’s ideology. In some cases, recent headlines were concerning.

“I don’t know everything he says, but it was a matter of racing. You know, I think that makes us look bad,” Barbara Chapman, who lives in Texas, said before Orbán’s speech.

“We have Republicans of all races. Dr. Ben Carson talks, you know – I really want to see him. I don’t think it should be specific to white. We need Asians, Hispanics, blacks, whites,” she continued.

But in a text message after Orbán’s speech, Chapman changed his tune, suggesting the media misinterpreted Orbán’s positions.

“Overall I loved him,” Chapman wrote, calling the prime minister “charming.”

Andrew Sweet, a conference attendee from New Jersey, said CPAC offering Orbán a stage was not a complete endorsement of his ideology. But Sweet, a self-proclaimed “centrist” in the party, warned that Republicans should avoid adopting any type of nationalist approach that seeks to make the nation homogeneous in terms of race or creed.

“I personally believe that more diversity is good,” Sweet said. “More types of voices, different experiences and stuff.”

But that doesn’t mean Republicans can’t hear from conservatives who have taken a different approach, Sweet explained.

“It’s one thing to be like that, here’s an example of Hungarian conservatism,” Sweet said. “It’s another thing to fully endorse the message he is about to say. You know, it’s slightly different.


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