Former President Trump, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and former White House strategist Steve Bannon are among figures who will deliver remarks at The Conservative Political Action Conference, also known as CPAC, this week in Dallas, Texas.
Beginning on Thursday, the conference, organized by the American Conservative Union, will run through Sunday, with the former president scheduled to speak on Saturday as the keynote speaker.
Launched in 1974, CPAC describes itself as the largest gathering of conservatives in the world. The organization has held events in Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Sydney and Tokyo this year.
Other figures scheduled to speak at the event include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, J.D. Vance, who is running for Senate in Ohio, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Representative Jim Jordan and former governor of Alaska and now congressional candidate Sarah Palin, among others.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who is considered a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will be delivering a speech at the conference titled “How We Fight” on Thursday afternoon.
The controversial European leader has pushed restrictive immigration policies and has faced backlash for remarks decried as racist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic.
Orbán’s appearance in Texas arrives after he was recently criticized for a speech he delivered in Romania, where he denounced “race mixing.” The Hungarian leader described how Europeans should avoid mixing with non-Europeans as “we do not want to become peoples of mixed race.”.
As a result of the remarks, one of Orbán’s advisers, Zsuzsa Hegedüs, resigned from his government over what she called Orbán’s “illiberal turn,” describing his comments as “pure Nazi text.”
Orbán was the first European leader to back Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and visited Trump in the White House in 2019. On Tuesday, former president Trump met with the Hungarian leader ahead of his appearance.
“Great spending time with my friend, Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary. We discussed many interesting topics—few people know as much about what is going on in the world today,” said Trump in a statement on Tuesday. “We were also celebrating his great electoral victory in April.”
Trump endorsed Orbán in January, and Trump’s former chief strategies Steve Bannon called the Hungarian leader “Trump before Trump,” in a speech in Budapest in 2018.
Orbán’s headline slot has raised concerns about Repubilicans embracing an autocrat who has been criticized for undermining democratic institutions and consolidating power in his own county.
His invitation to CPAC reflects conservatives’ growing embrace of the Hungarian far-right leader has implemented hardline policies against immigration and LGBTQ rights and is governed by the single-party rule.
Speaking with the New York Times, Alex Pfeiffer, a spokesman for CPAC, defended Orbán’s presence at the conference, saying that the group supports “the open exchange of ideas” and called the Hungarian leader a “popular leader in his third successive term.”
Matt Schlapp, the CPAC chairman, recently told Bloomberg, “Let’s listen to the man speak.”
Spectrum News has reached out to CPAC for comment.
CPAC will also be conducting a Republican presidential nomination straw poll this week. Former President Trump will be on a ballot, joined by 20 other Republicans considered potential White House candidates in the 2024 election. Everyone attending the CPAC event will be able to vote for their preferred candidate.
Other names on the list include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who will not be attending CPAC, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
A straw poll was conducted at a CPAC event in Orlando in February, where Trump received 59% of the votes, with Gov. DeSantis in second place with 28%.