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Hungary's Orban opens CPAC by telling conservatives "we need to coordinate the movement" of allies

An inside look at CPAC's European debut
An inside look at CPAC's European debut 05:57

Hungary's far-right President Viktor Orban called for a worldwide conservative takeover, predicting at the American Conservative Political Action Committee conference held in Budapest that "2024 will be decisive."

"We need to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels," Orban said Thursday, delivering the opening remarks for the conference in Budapest. "We need to find friends, and we need to find allies. We need to coordinate the movement of our troops, because we have a big challenge ahead of us."

CPAC organizers chose Hungary for its first European conference because it's "one of the bastions of the conservative resistance to the ultraprogressive 'woke' revolution," according to CPAC's website. Orban is a key figure for the right wing, an example for the conservative movement of how to counter the left in western culture wars. Orban touched on some universal themes for conservatives: gender, critical race theory, cancel culture and censorship on tech platforms, among others.

Orban's biggest applause line came from boasting about a wall he ordered built after the Syrian migrant crisis of 2015, when thousands of Syrians tried to enter Hungary through Serbia.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest, Hungary, May 19, 2022  . Hungarian Prime Minister's Press Office/Zoltan Fischer/Handout via Reuters

"We decided to stop migration and build the wall on our southern border because Hungarians said that they did not want illegal immigrants," Orban told CPAC. "They said, 'Viktor, build that wall!' Three months later the border barrier was up."

Orban also railed against the media and called for a takeover, arguing "the madness of the progressive left can only be demonstrated if the media is there to help us do it."

He advised conservatives, "Have your own media. It's the only way to point out the insanity of the progressive left. The problem is that the western media is adjusted to the leftist viewpoint. Those who taught reporters in universities already had progressive leftist principles."

Orban lamented that Republicans have their "media allies," but "they can't compete with the mainstream liberal media." He spoke approvingly of "my friend, Tucker Carlson" as "the only one who puts himself out there," and opined that "programs like his should be broadcasted day and night. Or as you say 24/7." 

The conference is being hosted by Hungary's Center for Fundamental Rights, which is funded by the government. Attendees came from across the world, from Europe, Australia, South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. 

But the press was mostly home-grown, from state-run Hungarian media. Independent European and U.S. outlets were largely denied access, and CBS News was one of a small number allowed access to the conference. CBS Reports correspondent Adam Yamaguchi, who is in Budapest for the conference, told CBS News that he and his crew were initially turned away from the conference by local organizers, but were eventually allowed in after they contacted CPAC. 

Yamaguchi said that it served as a reminder that "in spite of the polarized time we live in," when the mainstream press can be villainized by conservatives, "there's still an American recognition of an independent press. And that doesn't exist everywhere — including here."

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