Ex-Democratic Star on Blacks and the GOP

In Part 2 of our Q&A, Artur Davis talks about ditching Obama and defining a new message for Republicans.

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TR: Are there parts of the Republican Party platform that you disagree with?

AD: When you show up in a new church, you don't spend your first few weeks standing up and telling the preacher why he's wrong. So I've resisted when interviewers ask me to go through what I disagree with Republicans about. [Laughs.]

In [an] essay last week, I did mention a few specific areas. I mentioned that I think the Republican Party would do very well to be more inclusive-sounding in the immigration debate – and by the way, Newt Gingrich said that, too. I mentioned that I think there is a difference between increasing marginal tax rates and removing tax breaks that don't make a lot of sense, while some Republicans will not draw that distinction.

And I mentioned that I don't think you can look at every federal program that's part of the low-income subsistence network and say they're all wasteful and worthless. Some of those programs have done very well, and I'm for performance-based accountability in government.

But for everything I've just said, there are major people in the Republican Party who would say it, too. Gov. Romney recently said that he was not going to impose overly draconian spending cuts in his first year because that could cause the economy to contract. There are other Republicans who disagree with that, who want him to come in and immediately implement the most aggressive budget cuts possible. This idea in D.C. that there's one "Republican viewpoint" and there's no room for diversity of opinion is a myth.

TR: You're not focused on elective politics now, but what plans are on the horizon? Will you be hitting the campaign trail for Mitt Romney?

AD: I don't exclude running for office again; nor do I have any specific plans [to run] for office again. I don't exclude the possibility of campaigning for Gov. Romney; nor do I have any specific plans to [campaign] for Gov. Romney.

Frankly, I never expected to enter politics again after I was defeated two years ago [for governor] because I knew that the scope and size of the defeat I suffered, and the antagonism of the Alabama Democratic Party to my candidacy, meant that I had no realistic political future at the time.

Today I don't live in the state of Alabama, so that perhaps creates an opportunity to begin again. I've certainly been in politics for a period of time, and I find public service to be a very fulfilling and productive thing. But I have no idea what I will end up doing politically. Obviously, we have an election in five months. That may have some impact on it, and then I'll make a judgment from there.

Editor's note: Read "Artur Davis: Why I Left the Democratic Party," Part 1 of The Root's interview with the former congressman.