DALLAS — It was a reception from conservatives that may be anticipated for a celebration chief like former President Donald J. Trump, replete with standing ovations, glad-handing and roaring approval for a defiant message opposing immigration and homosexual marriage.
However the recipient of the heroic welcome on Thursday was Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, who has been extensively condemned for his assaults on democratic norms. On the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, he was a gap headliner.
Revered by a wing of the American political right, Mr. Orban, the European Union’s longest-serving present chief, arrived at CPAC after stirring new outrage together with his latest feedback opposing a “mixed race” society.
Mr. Orban defiantly shrugged off the criticism in his speech on Thursday, saying that the information media would label him a “far-right, European racist, antisemite strongman, Malicious program of Putin” in its headlines about his remarks. He attacked these accusing him of racism and antisemitism as “merely idiots.”
“They need us to surrender our zero-migration coverage as a result of in addition they know that that is the decisive and closing battle of the long run,” Mr. Orban mentioned.
Mr. Orban has an extended historical past of airing such contempt, and his antagonism — towards immigrants, the information media, “wokeness” and extra — has helped cement his standing with American conservatives, who’ve offered him with a far-reaching platform. Amongst them is Tucker Carlson, the Fox Information commentator, who traveled to Hungary for a feature on the prime minister. In Could, CPAC hosted a conference there.
Leaders of CPAC, an influential right-wing group finest identified for internet hosting outstanding Republicans and aspiring presidential candidates at its common conferences, had resisted calls to disinvite Mr. Orban.
He joined a gap day lineup that included Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, the Fox Information host Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin, the previous Alaska governor. The convention will culminate this weekend with a speech by Mr. Trump, who has steadily been in comparison with Mr. Orban.
Mr. Orban’s speech on the Hilton Anatole lodge — a cavernous emporium of “Trump gained” merchandise, right-wing media cubicles and a roving Mike Lindell, the election-denying MyPillow founder — drew an eclectic assortment of conference goers.
Protesters confirmed up, too, solely to be escorted away by the police. The demonstrations hinted on the wider outrage related to Mr. Orban’s presence on the gathering on the heels of his July remarks, which drew comparisons to Nazi rhetoric.
Learn Extra About U.S. Immigration
“At one stage, Orban merely performed the tradition wars playing cards he has all the time performed, leaning into his anti-immigration marketing campaign, his ‘household values’ marketing campaign towards gender fluidity and homosexual rights, and his regulation and order marketing campaign,” Kim Lane Scheppele, a professor of sociology and worldwide affairs at Princeton College, mentioned in an electronic mail on Thursday. “He anticipated cheers for these positions — and he bought them.”
Jerry Brooks, 58, a conference attendee from Dwell Oak, Fla., who hosts a podcast known as “In Black & Proper,” mentioned in an interview on Thursday earlier than Mr. Orban’s speech that he had been impressed by the Hungarian chief.
“He appears to be talking a form of a world language — and that’s freedom,” mentioned Mr. Brooks, who’s Black.
Not all the paying attendees recognized as Trump supporters. Some have been first-timers at CPAC, there explicitly to listen to from Mr. Orban, who they mentioned embodied their views about placing their nation first.
Amongst them was a contingent of about 30 folks from the Hungarian Membership of DFW. Lana Kerstein, an organizer for the group who holds U.S. and Hungarian citizenship, mentioned in an interview earlier than the speech that she had lengthy admired Mr. Orban for his efforts to protect Hungary’s tradition and the rule of regulation.
“What’s incorrect with that? I don’t assume it’s incorrect. This nation has to outlive,” mentioned Ms. Kerstein, a businesswoman in her mid-40s who described herself as conservative.
Dana Spencer, 46, a retired canine groomer from Barry, Texas, which is about two hours from Dallas, mentioned in an interview that she was not conversant in Mr. Orban however may respect his stance on immigration.
“I need folks to come back in legally,” mentioned Ms. Spencer, a first-time CPAC attendee. “We’re paying for his or her housing, their flights, their bus rides to New York.”
The help Mr. Orban present in Dallas contrasted with the fallout from his July speech in Romania.
“These international locations are not nations: They’re nothing greater than a conglomeration of peoples,” Mr. Orban mentioned, in response to a translation from The Associated Press, assailing international locations in Europe which have massive numbers of immigrants.
He spoke of a divided Europe the place immigrants have been altering the character of “our world.”
“We’re prepared to combine with each other, however we don’t wish to turn out to be peoples of blended race,” Mr. Orban mentioned. “Migration has cut up Europe in two — or I may say that it has cut up the West in two.”
Criticism of these feedback was swift.
Zsuzsa Hegedus, a confidante of Mr. Orban’s, wrote in a July 26 resignation letter printed within the Hungarian information media that not even essentially the most “bloodthirsty racist” may condone Mr. Orban’s rhetoric. She in contrast Mr. Orban’s message to themes utilized by the Nazis, together with Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda chief for Adolf Hitler.
“I don’t know the way you didn’t discover that you simply have been presenting a pure Nazi textual content worthy of Goebbels,” she wrote.
Deborah E. Lipstadt, the U.S. particular envoy to watch and fight antisemitism, echoed Ms. Hegedus at some point afterward her official Twitter account, calling Mr. Orban’s evaluation alarming.
Mr. Orban’s newest viewers with leaders of the political proper in the USA comes as Republicans are girding for the midterm elections, wherein they hope to win management of the Senate and Home. Republicans have up to now nominated a string of candidates who have disputed the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election and who may have an effect on the end result of the subsequent one.
Mr. Orban, who factors out that he has gained free and truthful elections as a way to justify what he calls “intolerant democracy,” has additionally used the facility of his workplace to shape the contours of elections more to his liking.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump welcomed Mr. Orban to his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., the place the 2 posed for images. It was an audacious reunion between the previous president and Mr. Orban, whom Stephen Ok. Bannon, a former prime Trump adviser, as soon as known as “Trump earlier than Trump.”
Mr. Orban’s parting phrases for CPAC on Thursday have been provocative.
“The globalists can all go to hell,” he mentioned. “I’ve come to Texas.”
Blake Hounshell contributed reporting.