Scene in D.C.: Rumsfeld, Pataki Mark 56th of Hungary 1956

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Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Hungarian Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary.

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Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Hungarian Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary. Close

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Hungarian... Read More

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Susan Francia, an Olympic Gold medalist in women's rowing, shows her medals to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Close

Susan Francia, an Olympic Gold medalist in women's rowing, shows her medals to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

John Lipsky, distinguished visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University, and Hungary's Foreign Affairs Minister Janos Martonyi. Close

John Lipsky, distinguished visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University, and Hungary's Foreign Affairs Minister Janos Martonyi.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Former New York Governor George Pataki. Close

Former New York Governor George Pataki.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Heidi Crebo-Rediker, chief economist at the US Department of State, and Andras Simonyi, managing director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. He is the former Hungarian Ambassador to the US. Close

Heidi Crebo-Rediker, chief economist at the US Department of State, and Andras Simonyi, managing director of the... Read More

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Skip Warner, senior vice president of capital markets corporate for General Electric, and his wife, Maddy. Close

Skip Warner, senior vice president of capital markets corporate for General Electric, and his wife, Maddy.

Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Philip Reeker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, and Christian Sauska, CEO of LightSources, Inc. Close

Philip Reeker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, and... Read More

Donald Rumsfeld, former U.S. defense secretary, greeted the 6-foot-5 George Pataki last night with: “My, you’ve grown.”

“It’s my Hungarian roots,” said the former New York governor.

The two were guests of honor at the U.S. Institute of Peace for the 56’ at 56 gala hosted by the Hungarian Embassy.

The play on numbers represents the 56th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution against the Soviet regime.

Rumsfeld, a naval pilot stationed in Hungary at the time, recalled the “indelible impressions” the period made on him.

He was hardly taking a break from campaigning: “I want Romney to win so bad I can’t stand it,” Rumsfeld said, grinding his teeth.

Pataki grew up in a Hungarian-American community in upstate New York. He said his father cried when he saw the Soviets retain power despite the hard-fought campaign by the student freedom fighters.

Pataki led the U.S. delegation to Hungary to mark the 50th anniversary in 2006.

The 300 guests were seated at tables named after U.S. cities, with the exception of the Budapest table, where Rumsfeld and Pataki were joined by Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, and Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Janos Martonyi.

Gold Medals

Hungarian Ambassador Gyorgy Szapary made introductions, including one between Rumsfeld and Susan Francia, a Hungarian American athlete who took the gold medal in women’s rowing in Beijing and London. She brought her medals along.

Martonyi compared mustaches with John Lipsky, former first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, now a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University.

At the Cleveland table were Austrian Ambassador Hans Peter Manz and Heidi Crebo-Rediker, the State Department’s chief economist. At Boston sat Skip Warner, a senior vice president at General Electric Co. (GE), one of the evening’s sponsors.

He is off to Hungary next month to facilitate sales of Hungarian industrial business through financing.

The meal was local roasted chicken, wild rice and Esterhazy torte with Hungarian wines, such as Matrai Irsai Oliver 2011.

Szapary surprised his guests with the announcement that the Hungarian government has pledged $1 million toward the construction of a Communism museum in Washington.

Other guests included Philip Reeker, former ambassador to Macedonia, now deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and former Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi, now the managing director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins.

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on movies.

To contact the writer on this story: Stephanie Green in Washington at sgreen57@bloomberg.net or on Twitter @stephlgreen.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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