Sen. J.D. Vance Says The U.S. 'Could Learn From' Viktor Orbán's Policies

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), a top contender to be Donald Trump’s running mate in the 2024 election, on Sunday said the U.S. “could learn from” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán when it comes to addressing what he describes as U.S. universities’ left-wing bias.

In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Vance argued that American universities are “controlled by left-wing foundations.”

“They’re not controlled by the American taxpayer and yet the American taxpayer is sending hundreds of billions of dollars to these universities every single year,” he added.

When asked by CBS’s Margaret Brennan whether he would want the federal government to have direct control over academic institutions, Vance replied he believes taxpayers ought “to have a say in how their money is spent.”

“Universities are part of a social contract in this country,” he said. “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.”

While Vance said he didn’t endorse every single policy Orbán has implemented, he added: “I do think that he’s made some smart decisions there that we could learn from in the United States.”

Hungary, in 2021, transferred control of 11 public universities to semi-public foundations led by Orbán’s allies, in a move that the government’s critics said was designed to ensure the conservative leader maintains significant influence over institutions that were independent.

But in an interview with The European Conservative earlier this year, Vance seemed to appreciate his approach.

“The closest that conservatives have ever gotten to successfully dealing with left-wing domination of universities is Viktor Orbán’s approach in Hungary,” he said. “I think his way has to be the model for us: not to eliminate universities, but to give the a choice between survival or taking a much less biased approach to teaching.”

Orbán, who has long been celebrated by conservative figures in the U.S., has cracked down on the free press and the judiciary and also cozied up to U.S. adversaries, including Russia, China and Iran.

Former President Donald Trump hosted Orbán at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in March.

“There’s nobody that’s better, smarter or a better leader than Viktor Orbán,” Trump said at the time. “He’s fantastic.”

Yet Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week called on members of his party to be wary of supporting Orbán.

“This isn’t where America should be taking our foreign policy cues,” he said. “I didn’t think conservatives had any time for those who suck up to Iran.”

But Vance told CBS it is actually the U.S.’s fault that Orbán is turning to Beijing.

“American leadership is not making smart decisions,” he said. “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.”

Vance is among the Republicans who are on Trump’s vice-presidential shortlist.

In a recent interview with Scripps News, Trump hinted he was likely to announce his running mate at the Republican National Convention in July.