TAMPA, Fla.—Former Democrat Artur Davis, who once supported President Obama as a Black member of the Alabama delegation to the House of Representatives and became a Republican after his re-election loss, talked with the Black Press during the Republican National Convention.

Q: Congressman, what message were you trying to get across tonight in your speech?

Artur Davis: Well, the message I was trying to get across is there’s a chunk of Americans who voted for Barack Obama who don’t plan to do that again—it’s an estimated six to seven million people, and they’re a big voter bloc in this election.

Q: As you know, Governor Romney is polling at 0% among African Americans in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Do you think he’ll be able to change that between now and Election Day, and if so, how?

Davis: You know, I don’t worry about that number. There’s no question that Barack Obama’s going to get virtually all the African-American vote. It’s much more important that a President Romney be inclusive than that a candidate Romney get African-American votes because the latter is not going to happen. I’m confident that President Romney is going to be inclusive, that he’s going to be a president who represents all Americans. We have to get past a point in this country where you basically represent people who voted for you. Mitt Romney, I think, will be the kind of leader who represents the entire country. That’s the more important part of the equation, in my opinion.

Q: Do you think President Obama has failed to do that?

Davis: I think President Obama has failed to bring the country together. I think President Obama has seemed to take sides in the ideological battle. He’s been on the left, he’s not spent a whole lot of time really caring about what people on the right think, and of late he’s not cared a whole lot about what people in the center think. Some people may think: Well, isn’t that normal politics? It’s actually not normal politics. It’s not how Bill Clinton went about doing business. It’s not how Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson went about doing business. We have a more ideologically polarized presidency today than we’ve had in recent memory.

Q: There was a confrontation yesterday, as you know, between Chris Matthews and Chairman Priebus, in which Matthews accused Priebus and the GOP of “playing the race card.” What was your reaction to that?

Davis: Oh, look, I won’t speak to Chris Matthews, he’s a good guy, but there are a lot of people who are sympathetic to the Democratic cause who apparently decide every time the Obama campaign gets in trouble, they’re going to complain about race. They’re going to complain and accuse Republicans of playing the race card. That’s a tactic we’ve seen over and over in this campaign, and I’m sure we’ll keep seeing it.

Q: What will you be doing in the next couple of days, and between now and Election Day, to help Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win the election?

Davis: Well, I think Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are the ticket to turn this country around, so I’m going to try to do my small little bit—and it’s a very small little bit that I’m capable of doing—but I want to be helpful. This is a very challenging and tough time for our country. I look forward to helping Mitt Romney become President Mitt Romney.

Q:Will you be out on the trail?

Davis: Oh, I’ve been on the trail. I’ll stay on the trail. O.K.? Good enough. Thank you.


John A. Moreno

Special to the AFRO