Former Democrat turned Republican Artur Davis defended his party defection Tuesday, saying he belongs at the GOP convention in Tampa because he's a "right-of-center-leaning person" who no longer fits in with the liberals running his old party.
Davis, a former Alabama congressman who lost his 2010 Democratic bid for governor and turned Republican in 2012, endorsed Mitt Romney in a speech Tuesday night at the convention and spoke about why he no longer believes in his party or President Barack Obama.
Ironically, Davis delivered a similar speech four years ago at the 2008 Democratic convention in support of Obama.
In an interview Tuesday before his speech with Fox News' Neil Cavuto, Davis dismissed criticism from members of the Congressional Black Caucus for his defection, calling them "wrongheaded" for continuing to support what he called Obama's failed presidency.
"Because of the loyalty they feel toward Barack Obama, they see someone who leaves the reservation as being something of a traitor," he told Cavuto. "I don't share that sentiment. I think it is wrongheaded, but I understand that it exists.
"He is an iconic figure in the black community," Davis added, explaining why African-American voters are reluctant to abandon Obama. "The African-American community reveres the history he made. They revere the example that he and [the first lady] 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, whether they are white Republicans or black Republicans," Davis said.
"As a right-of-center-leaning person, I don't belong in Charlotte [at the Democratic convention] next week. I need to be here," he continued, adding that he tried as an elected official to see both sides of a problem and work toward solutions, which often led him to vote with Republicans on social, fiscal and national security issues.
That's why, he said, "I was the most conservative member of the Congressional Black Caucus every single year I served."
The former congressman expressed concern, however, about the rigidity in both parties, noting that the country is "developing into a left and right system" with no room in the middle for common ground.
"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," he said. "I will be honest with you. Right now we have a left and a right party."
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