Artur Davis: GOP should focus on Latinos and blue collars

Former Dem congressman on how the Republican Party should deal with race in future elections


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 9, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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INGRAHAM: In the personal story segment tonight, Artur Davis, the former Democratic congressman and co-chair of the 2008 Obama campaign gave a rousing speech at the Republic convention this year after switching parties. He joins me now with some insight on why Romney lost and what the GOP needs to do moving forward. It's great to see you first of all.

ARTUR DAVIS, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: Thank you, Laura, good to see you in person.

Laura: A lot of postmortems going on. We are all like coroners examining the patient. You know, what's the cause of death of this campaign? So, what's your take?

DAVIS: You know, this is a conversation Republicans ought to be having because we have got some work to do. We had the lowest numbers with Latinos that we've had since they have done exit polls on the subject. We lost Virginia because of the gender gap. We lost Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania because we couldn't close the deal with blue collar workers who have been victimized by the Obama economy in the last four years. I'm not going to pretend you that there is one thing that we can do. I don't think it's a matter of moving left or center as opposed to being on the right. But we have got to be the reform party. We've got to talk about education reform. We have got to talk about market based approaches to healthcare.

INGRAHAM: Substantive -- substantive conservative proselytizing.

DAVIS: We have to be the ideas party.

INGRAHAM: I mean you have got to convert people. You've got to convert people.

DAVIS: We have got to be the ideas party. And you can't sell ideas until you come up with them.


DAVIS: As you know, there are a lot of people who have been working the conservative ranks the last several years coming up with good creative ideas. Some of the best ideas on dealing with foreclosures are ideas that Republicans and conservatives come up with. We didn't really talk about them during this campaign. Some of the best ideas in expanding the middle class and growing middle class, upper mobility, conservatives have been talking about those things. But we frankly haven't found a way to translate them into our campaign yet.

INGRAHAM: But Arthur, also, at the same time, we can't avoid examining how this campaign was run. We find out that this Orca Project, which was the get out the vote, measure the demographics group, millions of dollars poured into this, it was a disaster. Apparently they got basic calculations wrong.

DAVIS: Sure.

INGRAHAM: Basic projections wrong. I mean, it's almost on the verge of political negligence or recklessness.

DAVIS: No questions, bad numbers ...

INGRAHAM: And millions of Republicans didn't vote. Millions of Republicans didn't -- didn't turn out to vote.

DAVIS: Bad numbers were floating around. Not just the Romney campaign, but the folks paying for IEs (ph). But let's not kid ourselves. We lost this election because more people distrusted Republicans than distrusted Barack Obama. We have got to fix that because Barack Obama in the next four years is going to work very hard to consolidate his gains and to put them beyond the reach of one election. He is going to try to create gains that will take a generation to reverse.

INGRAHAM: Well, sure. But 2010, for instance, I mean, Republicans grew the movement. Appealed to people across the board. Gender gap was there, not as significant.

DAVIS: Right.

INGRAHAM: It was a midterm election. But nevertheless, it was a transformative election. We had wins in Virginia and the governor shifts. We have 29 Republican governor shifts today, I believe that's the number. We have two Latino governors, we have more female governors than the Democrats. States are engines of growth and opportunity. And that's a substantive argument.

DAVIS: But you know what we did in 2010? In 2010 we managed to take the Tea Party insurgent energy and marry it up with the middle class platform.

INGRAHAM: It was ObamaCare, though. That ObamaCare was the center of that Tea Party revolt.

DAVIS: Obamacare and we didn't talk enough about Obamacare this year.

INGRAHAM: Romney hardly ever talked about Obamacare.

DAVIS: If there is one issue that we as a party left off the table. 50 percent, according to the exit polls, 50 percent of voters on Tuesday want to repeal Obamacare.

INGRAHAM: No, 52. I think 52, 50.

DAVIS: Not just change it or tinker but wants to get rid of it.

INGRAHAM: Want it gone.

DAVIS: We left some of those votes on the table because we didn't talk enough about it, but in 2010 we managed to frankly reach out to working class middle income voters and to convince them that we had a plan to create prosperity.

INGRAHAM: What about African-American voters? I mean that's such a vexing problem for Republicans.

DAVIS: Sure.

INGRAHAM: But again, my point is go to African-American neighborhoods. Go to communities centers.

DAVIS: Well, let me say this.

INGRAHAM: Don't just go to the NAACP meeting.

DAVIS: As a reality, there are two groups who appear to be off limits right now politically for both sides. African-Americans are off limits for Republicans. Southern white evangelicals are off limits for Democrats. Combination of ideology and identity. Those two groups ....

INGRAHAM: They can't be off limits, though. Reagan went to the south and converted people in Mississippi and Alabama.

DAVIS: Over a period of time.

INGRAHAM: Right. It took a long time, but you have got to do it. You've got to make the appearance, right?

DAVIS: Working class voters and Latinos is what cost us about six states in this election.

INGRAHAM: I think when you can't win your home states of Massachusetts, Michigan, California ...

DAVIS: Working class Latinos cost us six states.

INGRAHAM: Well ...

DAVIS: That's enough to have the presidency.

INGRAHAM: Well, so amnesty is the answer?

DAVIS: It's not the answer, but we do have to reward work, responsibility and family.

DAVIS: And conservatives are going to break that.

INGRAHAM: ...bring your grandmother in.

DAVIS: Work, responsibility and family. Conservatives can embrace that.

INGRAHAM: Marco Rubio and Susana Martinez are two people I love...

DAVIS: Here you go. Conservatives can embrace that strategy.

INGRAHAM: Absolutely. Artur, great to see you as always.


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