Watch CBS News

Hungary's far-right PM Viktor Orbán has made "some smart decisions," Sen. J.D. Vance says

U.S. "could learn" from Orbán on some issues, Vance says
Hungary's far-right PM Viktor Orbán has made "some smart decisions," Sen. J.D. Vance says 09:58

Washington — Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio, rumored to be one of former President Donald Trump's vice-presidential contenders, said Sunday that the U.S "could learn from" some decisions made by authoritarian Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, including controversial policies related to dealing with dissidents at universities.   

"On the university principle, the idea that taxpayers should have some influence in how their money is spent at these universities, it's a totally reasonable thing, and I do think that he's made some smart decisions there that we could learn from in the United States," Vance said Sunday on "Face the Nation."

The Ohio Republican has previously praised Orbán's approach to state universities in Hungary, saying his way could be the model for eliminating what he views as a left-wing bias at American universities. Orbán, who is revered in some hardline conservative circles, seized control of state universities, a move that critics say has extended his government's right-wing influence. 

Sen. J.D. Vance on "Face the Nation," May 19, 2024. CBS News

Vance claimed Sunday that American universities are already "controlled by left-wing foundations," rather than taxpayers. He said he's advocating for "taxpayers to have a say in how their money is spent."

"Universities are part of a social contract in this country. They educate our children. They produce important intellectual property," Vance added. "They get a lot of money because of it, but if they're not educating our children well, and they're layering the next generation down in mountains of student debt, then they're not meeting their end of the bargain."

"I think it's totally reasonable to say there needs to be a political solution to that problem," Vance said. He also noted that he's not endorsing every thing Orbán has done.

The comments come as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week criticized growing praise among the GOP for Hungary's government, warning on the Senate floor against emulating a leader who has maintained friendly relationships with U.S. adversaries.

"This isn't where America should be taking our foreign policy cues," McConell said. "Hungary stands at the crossroads of three powers bent on undermining our security and prosperity. And the Orbán government is modeling what not to do in the face of these challenges."

Meanwhile, Vance is among a list of individuals thought to be considered as possible running mates for former President Donald Trump, who met with Orbán at his Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month, where he praised the Hungarian leader. 

"Why is Viktor Orbán getting closer to China? In part because American leadership is not making smart decisions," Vance argued. "We are pushing other nations into the arms of the Chinese because we don't make enough stuff, because we pursue a ridiculous foreign policy very often. We have to be more self reliant."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.