Politics have been a part of Ambassador Tibor Nagy's life since he was a child. Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1949, he arrived in the United States as a political refugee in 1957. After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas Tech University and George Washington University, respectively, Nagy joined the U.S. Department of State and served as a U.S. diplomat in Africa for more than 20 years. Besides assignments in Zambia and the Seychelles, Nagy served as deputy ambassador in Togo, Cameroon and Nigeria and finally as U.S. ambassador to Guinea and then Ethiopia.
In 2008, he was recruited for the Barack Obama campaign and became a consultant on a voluntary basis for Obama's African foreign policy group. Nagy said he learned a lot during the president's first campaign, and his time on Obama's Africa group would lead to more work in campaigns to come.
For the 2012 elections, Nagy was contacted early on by some friends on the Republican side who were actively involved in Mitt Romney's campaign. Nagy served as the co-chair for the African foreign policy group that advised the Romney campaign. His job involved putting together a team to replicate the organization of the U.S. Department of State's African bureau. Nagy's team members were responsible for different geographic areas of Africa as well as thematic issues related to development, terrorism and other topics on foreign policy.
For the 2016 election, Nagy started with a candidate who suspended his campaign but has also contributed policy advice to a campaign that is still active. Serving as vice provost for International Affairs at Texas Tech, he is available to speak about the role foreign policy plays in election campaigns and how presidential candidates develop their foreign policy views.
Tibor Nagy, vice provost for international affairs, (806) 834-0128 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Consultants should be knowledgeable in all issues affecting a specific area.
- Presidential candidates must be well rounded in foreign policy issues.
- Consultants need to know the priority of the issues they're working on and be able to inform candidates about issues from 30,000 feet above, not ground level.
- Presidential advisers should believe in the positions of the candidate they represent.
- "The presidential candidates have to know something about everything. A lot of the foreign policy is quite peripheral and it's only of interest if something happens. We recommended an overall foreign policy toward Africa. In other words, what could Romney do that was different from what President Obama was doing?"
- "People forget they're experts on a certain area. But their expertise runs so deep, their knowledge goes way beyond what the candidates need to know. Right now the candidates only need to know about the absolute largest issues. They only need the background, a fundamental knowledge and then flag the important things when they happen. For example with the area of Africa, the issues there aren't going to be at the center of foreign policy unless something really big happens, like Ebola. If that was to get out of control again, my area would be on the burner. It's extremely interesting, a lot of fun, and you feel like you're contributing to the political process."
- "You have to have a candidate whose positions you believe in. If you support the candidate's positions on things that are really important, then go for it. On African policy, there isn't much difference between Democratic Party Africanists and Republican Party Africanists. The fundamental goal is the same, and we tend to get along pretty well.