But McCain’s comments aren’t out of left field. As we noted three years ago, the United States has been concerned about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s “anti-democratic antics.” Even then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave Orban a talking-to, warning him against letting “democracy anywhere backslide.”
But at the State Department news briefing Wednesday, spokeswoman Marie Harf rejected McCain’s characterization of Orban.
“I think it’s no surprise that there are a number of views Senator McCain has espoused that we don’t share,” she said.
“Is this one of them?” a reporter asked.
“As an administration, I would put that in this category,” Harf answered.
Harf added, “Obviously, we expressed concerns and we have them. I wouldn’t share the same words that Senator McCain did.”
McCain made the comments about Orban in a Senate floor speech while railing against President Obama’s choice of Colleen Bell, a soap opera producer, to be U.S. ambassador to Hungary. The Senate narrowly approved her nomination.