Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s far-right prime minister, is hoping Donald Trump will visit Budapest in the coming weeks to help his reelection campaign.
According to a government source, Trump has been invited to speak at the Centre for Fundamental Rights, a think tank affiliated with the Orbán government.
The invitation comes as Orbán prepares to campaign for a closely fought election on 3 April, in which his Fidesz party will face a united opposition coalition in what is expected to be the most serious challenge to his rule since he took office 12 years ago.
“People in Fidesz would really like Trump to come to Budapest in March,” the source said, adding that Trump has yet to respond to the invitation. If the visit takes place, it will be Trump’s first known trip outside the United States since his election defeat in 2020.
Orbán was an early Trump supporter, endorsing him in the summer of 2016, and he also publicly backed him in the 2020 election. In January, the two spoke by phone, and Trump returned the favor by publicly endorsing Orbán in the April election. A personal visit by the former US president would be viewed as a significant campaign boost.
“These visits have a huge influence in the Hungarian conservative community because they see [Trump] as an icon, as someone who spent his presidency in a strong headwind,” a Fidesz source said. According to a former Republican staffer, Trump is known to be afraid of contracting Covid while traveling abroad and may prefer not to travel at all.
Trump’s chief spokesperson, Liz Harrington, did not respond to a request for comment. When asked to comment on the invitation’s various aspects, Orbán’s spokesman Zoltán Kovács responded with one word: “Nope.”
Trump has most likely been invited to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which will be held in Budapest on March 25-26. It will be the first time that the flagship conservative event is held in a European country.
The Center for Fundamental Rights’ director, Miklos Szanthó, told the Hungarian news agency MTI that a number of US senators, as well as Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s Vox party, and Jair Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, would attend the conference.
According to a Hungarian government source, Fidesz is hoping that Trump will join Orbán as the event’s keynote speaker.
“According to our plans, a number of high-profile Americans, including politicians as well as prominent right-wing thinkers and opinion leaders, will attend CPAC Hungary.” “We are confident that any new information about guests and speakers will reach you in due course,” Szanthó said.
According to the thinktank’s mission statement, it serves as a “counter to today’s overgrown human rights fundamentalism and political correctness.” It is well-known for reiterating government messages and producing propaganda videos. According to research conducted by the investigative Hungarian news outlet tlátszó, grants funded by public funds account for nearly all of their budget.
Trump and Orbán met during Trump’s 2019 White House visit, and Trump compared the two men: “You’re respected all over Europe.” Like me, he’s probably a little controversial, but that’s fine.”
Trump admired Orbán’s strongman image and control of the Hungarian political scene, according to David Cornstein, a long-time friend who Trump appointed ambassador to Hungary: “He would love to have the situation that Viktor Orbán has,” Cornstein said in 2019.
Orbán’s relations with Washington deteriorated after Trump left office, and Hungary was the only EU country not invited to Joe Biden’s recent Democracy Summit. Relations with the Trump administration have remained cordial.
Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a conference on conservative social values hosted by Orbán in September. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions also paid a visit recently.
Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, also spent time in Hungary earlier this year, broadcasting several shows from Budapest and creating a “documentary” that portrayed Hungary as a conservative paradise under constant attack by Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros.
Carlson’s visit to Hungary was his second in less than a year. He visited Budapest in August to interview Orbán. A few weeks after the Hungarian PM’s appearance, Trump sent him a letter of congratulations: “Great job on Tucker, proud of you!”