This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 21, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": First to Artur Davis. He seconded President Obama's nomination at the Democratic National Convention four years ago. But now he's going to be a key speaker at the Republican shindig in Tampa next week.
Congressman, always a pleasure and glad to have you back.
ARTUR DAVIS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Neil, thank you. Good to talk to you.
CAVUTO: I always thought, Congressman, your shift was a seminal event right up this with Douglas Wilder, the former Virginia governor, attacking Joe Biden for the famous chain and shackles comment.
In other words, very reasoned and reasonable Democrats who have concern here. Your concern came before Wilder's, though. Explain what has prompted your shift.
DAVIS: Well, the short of it is this is just not the Democratic Party we used to know.
The Democratic Party has gotten narrower and it's gotten smaller and it's fundamentally wrong on all the key questions involving the economic future of this country and our hopes of prosperity. And many Americans are beginning to realize that.
You pointed to the numbers that USA Today just released around the swing states. Conditions aren't likely to measurably improve between now and November. It's likely that when we get to November, in fact, a few days before the election, we'll get data showing that we have been over 8 percent unemployment for 47 consecutive months at that point.
That will be the longest stretch, close to four years, since the Depression era, of unemployment above 8 percent. It's impossible for the president to explain that away, when he's gotten the policies he wanted, he got the stimulus he wanted, he's a Fed that's been extremely attentive to his politics and he still hasn't been able to turn the economy around.
CAVUTO: I want to focus on that in just a second, sir, but I would be remiss if I didn't pass along this news item. Mitt Romney, the man you will endorse, has now urged Congressman Todd Akin to step out of the Missouri Senate race.
The congressman, as you know, has not and stated he will not, and that he'll stay in the Senate race, despite all of the uproar over his rape comments. What do you think he should do?
DAVIS: Well, I think Governor Romney is right.
And I think so many Republicans who've called for Akin to step aside are right. All of us have said dumb things especially in TV interviews, but what Congressman Akin said, frankly, wasn't just explained poorly. I don't even understand what he was trying to say.
He seemed to be blaming women for conceiving if they get raped and suggesting that they have a capacity to as he put it shut themselves down. That's absurd. That's ridiculous. And that's offensive to women all around the United States of America, its offensive to anybody with common sense all around the United States of America.
And it may be unfair. I have heard some say the man should be judged in light of his whole record. There's no question that is true if you're making an assessment of Todd Akin the person. But Missouri could very well be the state that decides whether or not President Romney has a Republican Senate.
What a shame it would be if we get to November 6 and we find out that we failed to take the Senate by one state and one candidate who just wouldn't step aside. This is a disaster for Republicans who are trying to retake the Senate. And it will certainly hurt the Romney campaign in Missouri, a state which Mitt Romney ought to win comfortably frankly.
CAVUTO: Now, obviously, the congressman has a different point of view. Sir, he thinks that it would be a desperation move to swap him out at this late stage. I guess the deadline would have been minutes away at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time for that to happen. That will not happen. I don't know where they take it from here.
But he says this also sends a bad right-to-life message, something he believes in dearly. He was telling my colleague and my friend Mike Huckabee earlier today -- I want to quote -- "It is because of the fact that, as I said before, I believe there is something that we are missing here. It's something that many Americans in their heart of hearts feel we need to be talking about. It's not just the abortion issue; it is the question of life."
What do you think of that? That this is a bigger issue to him, it is the right-to-life issue, and he's being pilloried?
DAVIS: Well, I respect how Todd Akin feels about these issues. He's a strong right-the-lifer.
But frankly, he wasn't speaking the language of right-to-lifers on this interview program. Right-to-lifers do not blame women. Right-to-lifers don't suggest that if a 15-year-old girl is raped that that 15-year-old girl somehow has the capacity somehow to shut things down and that if that doesn't happen, that she somehow is enjoying it, which is the gist of what that comment implies.
That's not the way right-to-lifers talk about this issue or how people of faith talk about this issue. Again with all respect in the world toward Todd Akin, the issue isn't is Todd Akin some bad man. The issue is, is he the person to carry the banner in this critical state?
Let's not forget there were two other strong candidates who ran for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, and those two candidates haven't disappeared in the last few weeks since the primary. Missouri Republicans would have had a good nominee if he'd been willing to step aside.
CAVUTO: Not to belabor this point, Congressman, but, finally, just in the congressman's defense, just to clarify here, he was saying that a true right-to-lifer, someone who believes in the sanctity of life, is willing to even consider those who get pregnant on the basis of rape should have that child, that that is a life. Do you agree with that?
DAVIS: Todd -- I don't agree with it, or rather I don't agree with that. But here's the reality. There are some right-to-lifers who do agree with that perspective. I understand that. But the issue is how Todd Akin discussed a woman's body. Frankly, a male politician never does well venturing into discussing this kind of thing and he certainly didn't.
I understand all the right-to-lifers out there. My positions are right-to-life. But that doesn't mean that you talk about women as if they are to blame for a violent assault on their bodies resulting in a pregnancy. That's the issue, the way he talked about this and the incredible impression that that left on women around this country.
He's entitled to believe that rape and incest shouldn't be an exception to abortion. I disagree with him, but he's entitled to believe that. But the way he talked about it was frankly demeaning to women all over the United States of America, certainly all over the state of Missouri.
So, again, it's not my job to tell anyone to drop out of a race, but many, many people, including Governor Romney, are speaking to the reality of the politics here, frankly.
CAVUTO: Let's switch gears and talk to the reality of the economy, and that's a big reason why you have declined your support for the president and moved to Mitt Romney. What makes you think that he's going to be any better at fixing things?
DAVIS: Well, one of the things a lot of Americans don't know, when Mitt Romney is nominated a few days from now, he will be the most experienced executive to be nominated for the presidency since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, who had run a university and had run the allied war effort.
That's actually a big deal. Sometimes in this country, we don't focus a lot on people's experience and their resume. Mitt Romney would be the most experienced executive to be nominated since 1952. The fundamental task for the next president is going to be fixing things, cleaning things up, being a turnaround artist, if you will.
That is exactly the set of skills that Mitt Romney demonstrated with the Olympics, with the stagnant economy that he found in Massachusetts, and, yes, with the private equity marvel that he created called Bain Capital, which was a huge success, despite the president's ads.
So, the man, Mitt Romney, happens to have the exact skill set that the next president's going to require.
CAVUTO: All right, I'm curious, Congressman. The Republicans have always had a problem with African-Americans and the African-American vote. I think the president last time got 96 percent of the African-American vote. He polls similarly strongly today, even with prominent members, yourself included, raising serious doubts.
Why is that? And why do Republicans have such a tough time reaching out to African-Americans? And will that change?
DAVIS: Well, it's two separate questions.
With respect to Barack Obama, let's face it; Barack Obama is an iconic figure in the African-American community. We respect that. We understand that. African-Americans are going to vote for the first black president, especially when he happens to share the liberal politics on economic issues that many in that community hold.
To the broader point of how Republicans appeal to African-Americans, perhaps beyond this election, do it the old-fashioned way. You talk about jobs, you talk about education, you talk about growing communities and you talk about growing families, and you realize that those values resonate with African-Americans very, very well.
Sure, there's a chunk of African-Americans out there who associate the Republican Party with racism, frankly particularly in the Deep South. It's an unfair perception, but it exists. Over a period time, that perception will die away if Republicans are focusing on issues that happen to impact African-Americans.
Governor Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal just passed the most significant education reform in his state's history. Guess who 70 percent of the kids in public schools are in Louisiana? In many communities, they are African-American.
DAVIS: So he just did a remarkable thing to lift up the prospects for African-Americans, though it doesn't have words civil rights or black written on it.
That's how Republicans have to approach the black vote.
CAVUTO: Very good. Very interesting.
Congressman, I look forward to seeing you next week in Tampa. Best of luck to you. Be safe. Thank you, sir.
DAVIS: Thank you.
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