Viktor Orbán, Hungary's authoritarian leader, spoke at CPAC. Who is he?

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Hard-right Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán addressed a crowd of conservatives Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Well-known for his illiberal populist rhetoric and policy, the Hungarian leader gave  a speech titled "How We Fight" which reflected many of those values, from re-centering Christian values in American politics to fighting off "progressive liberals."

“You cannot fight successfully by liberal means,” Orbán told the crowd.

Here's what you need to know about Orbán.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban reacts after delivering a speech during an event in Budapest on October 23, to commemorate the 65nd anniversary of Hungarian uprising against Soviet occupation in Budapest on October 23, 2021. - Hungarians took to the streets in separate national day demonstrations to voice support for and against Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban reacts after delivering a speech during an event in Budapest on October 23, to commemorate the 65nd anniversary of Hungarian uprising against Soviet occupation in Budapest on October 23, 2021. - Hungarians took to the streets in separate national day demonstrations to voice support for and against Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Who is Viktor Orbán?

Orbán is the prime minister of Hungary. He was first elected prime minister in 1998 and held that role until 2002. He took power again in 2010 and was reelected to a fourth term in April.

In April's election, Orbán's Fidesz-led coalition won 53%, while a pro-European opposition coalition, United for Hungary, had just over 34%, according to the National Election Office.

Why is he controversial?

Orbán gained notoriety after a July 2014 speech in which he described his goal to build an "illiberal state." Since then, he has become representative of a wave of "illiberal" leaders across the world who are democratically elected but who use their authority to consolidate their control and subvert the freedoms typically associated with democracies.

In particular, the Hungarian leader has been criticized for his efforts to quash political dissidents and limit press freedom, USA TODAY previously reported.

Orbán faced backlash in July for suggesting that Europeans should not “become peoples of mixed race,” the Washington Post reported. His comments led to the resignation of one of his senior advisers.

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What is his relationship with Trump?

Former President Donald Trump has been open in his admiration for Orbán.

At a heavily criticized 2019 meeting with Orbán held in the Oval Office, the former president described the Hungarian leader as “probably like me ... a bit controversial, but that’s OK.”

Ahead of CPAC, Trump met with Orbán, who he described as a "friend" in a post on Truth Social.

Trump endorsed Orbán before Hungary's April election, praising the authoritarian prime minister as a "strong leader" who "truly loves his country." Orbán was the first European leader to endorse Trump in 2016.

What is CPAC?

CPAC, self-described as the "largest and most influential gathering of conservatives in the world," was founded in 1974. The 2022 conference is being held in Dallas from Aug. 4-7.

Speakers at this year's conference include right-wing Republican lawmakers like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene; conservative media figures like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. The former president is headlining the conference.

CPAC chair Mark Schlapp confirmed on Twitter in July that Orbán would speak at the conference.

In a July statement, CPAC told The Hill that the former president and Orbán share a "special relationship" because of the leaders' mutual understanding that "we should not be controlled by the (United Nations], the [European Union], radical, woke corporatists or the billionaires who think regular people cannot be trusted to make their own decisions."

What did he say?

In his speech, Orbán called for American conservatives to “unite forces” against progressive liberals, because “we Hungarians know how to defeat the enemies of freedom on the political battlefield.”

Orbán suggested that to beat out opponents, conservative Americans must rely on “Judeo-Christian teachings.”

“Today’s progressives are trying to separate Western civilization from its Christian roots,” Orbán said. “Once again, they are crossing a line that should never be crossed… Don’t be afraid to call your enemies by their name.”

He also touched on topics like immigration, abortion, respect for police and gay marriage. His remarks condemning nontraditional marriages received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán tells conservatives to 'unite forces'