JD Vance praises Orbán’s seizure of Hungarian universities

Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s crackdown on higher education, defending the controversial leader in Budapest amid bipartisan criticism in the United States.

“I don’t know everything he’s ever done.” Vance spoke Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”“From a university perspective, it’s entirely reasonable to think that taxpayers should have some influence over how universities spend their funding.

Mr. Vance suggested in February that Mr. Orban’s campus crackdown was “the closest conservatives have ever come to successfully dealing with left-wing domination of universities.”

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance praised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s crackdown on higher education. AP Photo/Stephen Jeremiah

Host Margaret Brennan pointed out that Mr. Orbán “seized control of state universities and entrusted them to a foundation, which was then run by his allies.”

Mr. Vance, who has cultivated a populist movement within the Republican Party, countered that American universities are “controlled by left-wing foundations,” not taxpayers.

“They’re not educating our children well, they’re piling up mountains of student debt on the next generation, and that’s defeating the purpose of the deal,” he argued.

Brennan then spoke about other grievances that Poland’s top U.S. officials have against the NATO ally, including how they “rewrote” the constitution, “neutralized the courts” and “tried to control the media.” He spoke in detail.

“I don’t support everything Viktor Orban has ever done. I don’t know everything he’s ever done,” Vance said simply. He repeatedly replied that he was simply pointing out the prime minister’s education reforms.

Vance said Orbán’s actions were a successful way to deal with “left-wing domination of universities.” AP

Obran has earned a certain amount of popularity among pro-Trump conservatives, having received rave reviews from Tucker Carlson and meeting with former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year.

Still, others in the conservative movement denounced Orbán as an authoritarian and accused Budapest of delaying Sweden’s admission to NATO, which was ultimately approved in March.

Last week, for example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed Mr. Orban.

“This is not the place for America to guide its foreign policy,” McConnell said. “Hungary stands at the crossroads of three countries seeking to undermine our security and prosperity. And the Orbán government is modeling what not to do in the face of these challenges.”

Mr. McConnell particularly took issue with Mr. Orban’s relationship with China. But Vance placed the blame on weak leadership in Washington.

Vance said he did not “support everything Viktor Orban has ever done.” Szilard Kostisak/MTI (via AP)

“Why is Viktor Orban getting closer to China? Partly because American leaders are not making wise decisions,” Vance argued.

“We force other countries into the hands of the Chinese because we don’t make enough to pursue stupid foreign policies so often. We have to become more self-reliant.”