All eyes on former Obama Democrat Artur Davis at RNC

Former Alabama congressman on why he switched parties


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 28, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: To the other gentleman who created sort of rock waves throughout the political community, this former Democratic congressman who had been among those speaking on behalf of Barack Obama four years ago in Denver, returning this time to the Tampa convention site for Republicans.

At first, I was asking Artur Davis if he got lost. But of course you know by now that he famously abandoned the president and said and he would be supporting and speaking on behalf, this week, of the Romney-Ryan ticket.

Honored to have Artur Davis, the former Alabama Democratic congressman, with us right now.


CAVUTO: And to show you what a pro the congressman is, he can talk over this music and not be at all affected.


CAVUTO: Very good to have you, sir.

DAVIS: Neil, who says Republicans don't dance in the aisles?


DAVIS: They were dancing a minute ago down there.

CAVUTO: I know. We got the G.E. Smith band, the whole nine yards.

What is your feeling? When you entered this building and this arena, did you think, wait a minute, where am I?


You know, I'm someone who loves politics. So, when you walk into a political convention hall, there is a sense of adrenalin you get. The people who are down there on that floor, maybe minus the singers, are people who are the most passionate folks in American politics. And their counterparts will be gathering in Charlotte next week.

But these are the people who do the work, these are the people who organize, and to see them come together and show this kind of energy, it is exciting if you are someone who cares about American democracy, and you get a sense of adrenalin when you walk in this hall.

CAVUTO: But it has got to be unique in your case, right, Congressman, because in your remarks that are planned this week, you are going to detail why I switched, why you went from Barack Obama to Romney-Ryan.

And already you have gotten a heap of criticism from Democrats...

DAVIS: Sure.

CAVUTO: ... including just today the 14-member Congressional Black Caucus that blasted the move, all but likening it to treason. What do you say?

DAVIS: Well, first of all, there is very little about me in this speech tonight. There's all of one line about me. This week is not about me.

As far as the CBC letter today, here is what I take from it -- 41 members of the CBC, 14 signed it, 27 voted with their pen by not signing it, in effect. You learn to read little codes like that.

CAVUTO: Oh, that is interesting, so you read much from the more than half who didn't sign it?

DAVIS: Two-thirds. Two-thirds didn't sign it.

CAVUTO: All right.

DAVIS: But, look, let's put that aside.

Some of the people who signed the letter are trying to get some publicity. Some have some personal axes to grind and some are genuinely, passionately, and sincerely motivated. And I understand their motivation. The ones who are passionate and sincere in that letter, they love President Obama. They very much believe in the idea that Barack Obama needs to be reelected and they feel a special loyalty to him.

So because of the loyalty they feel toward Barack Obama, they see someone who leaves the reservation as being something of a traitor. I don't share that sentiment. I think it is wrongheaded, but I understand that it exists.

CAVUTO: Why do you think the president, even four years after a dicey recovery that you have outlined with me in a number of visits, still get polls 95, 96 percent of the African-American vote?

DAVIS: He is an iconic figure in the black community. The African-American community reveres the history he made. They revere the example that he and Michelle set. They revere them as parents and as role models.

And that is all good. But the admiration cannot veer into an intolerance for people who do not feel the same way, whether they are white Republicans or black Republicans.

CAVUTO: There must be something in the water, Congressman, because, as you know, Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of this fine state, will be speaking at the Democratic Convention. This sort of stuff is not new, but it does seem to be ticking up a pace.

What has happened to party loyalty, or is it party disloyalty? How would you...

DAVIS: Well, we are developing into a left and right system in this country.

For a very long time, there was a moderate wing of the Republican Party that was left of center. There was a moderate wing of the Democratic Party that was right of center. I will be honest with you. Right now we have a left and right party.

Charlie Crist, I suppose, fancies himself as a liberal Republican. But you know what? There are not too many liberal Republicans who are here. There are not too many Republicans who are left-leaning. So, if Charlie Crist is a left-leaning Republican, he probably needs to be over there.

Guess what? I'm a right-of-center-leaning person. As a right-of-center-leaning person, I don't need to be in Charlotte next week. I need to be here.

CAVUTO: When I caught up with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush about the Crist switch, he -- he was very disparaging of it. I don't how well you can hear with these things. This is from...


DAVIS: Oh, I can hear you fine.

CAVUTO: All right, this is from Governor Bush yesterday -- I want to get your reaction -- on the Charlie Crist switch.


CAVUTO: What did you make of your successor, Charlie Crist, Governor, coming out, and he will be doing a speech at the Democratic Convention? And he has thrown his support behind the president. What did you make of that?

JEB BUSH, R-FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: You cannot make it up. You cannot make up Charlie Crist. He is unique. He has organized his life around his personal ambition. And he ran in a primary where he was the odds-on favorite, didn't offer a compelling reason to be elected to the Senate. And Marco Rubio cleaned his clock and then beat him in the general, and now he is trying to find a way to get back in the political game. It has nothing to do with principles or ideas.

It has to do with his ambition.


CAVUTO: I was thinking, Congressman, are you going to get the same type of reaction next week from Democrats?

DAVIS: Oh, sure, because that is the way the game works. And I fully understand that.

I don't know much about Charlie Crist, but I will make this point. You can look at my record, I was a conservative Democrat. I voted on social issues, on fiscal issues, on national security issues often with Republicans. I was the most conservative member of the Congressional Black Caucus every single year I served. That's who I was.

Now, Floridians can look at Charlie Crist's record when he runs as a governor as a Democrat in 2014 and they can make an evaluation whether they think that the Charlie Crist of today matches up with his record of last 10 years.

I feel that where I am matches up with my record. But you know what? Some people may disagree. And I bet partisans will really disagree. We will let the people sort it out.

CAVUTO: That is all fair in politics, love and war, and the whole nine yards. Congressman, very good seeing you.

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