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Fmr. Dem Rep. Artur Davis Explains Why He Became A Republican

Fmr. Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) explains his party switch on FOX News with Neil Cavuto.

Cavuto: Artur, good to have you. Why this move?

Davis: Neil, good to talk to you. You know, I've made a move I think that millions of Americans have made in the last several years. Fifty-three percent of people in this country voted for Barack Obama. At the time, 51 percent said they were Democrats. Well, those numbers have gone south in the last several years. So, I'm one of millions of people who, frankly, didn't get what we voted for. A lot of people in my old state of Alabama, 15 Democratic elected officials, have now become Republicans. The guy who defeated me in the Democratic primary now works for the Republican governor who defeated him. A lot of us have made this move in some way, shape or form.

For a variety of reasons, I can only speak for myself, but I worked hard for Barack Obama four years ago because I thought he would bring this country together, and I thought he would change the way we talk to each other as Americans, and I thought he would change the way that we see ourselves. Well, there are many virtues around the president. I have a great deal of respect for the president. But that's not the country the president has given us. So, it's not something, in my case, that I woke up overnight and decided. It's a period of thinking about a lot of issues over a period of time and, frankly, having the benefit, the enforced luxury, if you will, of kind of being on the sidelines the last two years. But this is where I feel more comfortable today.

Cavuto: You know cynics will hear you now, sir, and say, 'Well, this is about political survival and keeping his political options open. Not cool to be a Democrat in your neck of the woods, better to be a Republican right now.' What do you say?

Davis: Well, Neil, I no longer live in the state of Alabama. My wife and I live in Virginia now, and Republicans control about 60 percent of the vote in Alabama. They're not quite so lucky in Virginia. This is a state that, if anything, leans slightly Democratic now. I've said to several people in the last several days, if all I wanted to do was to hold a political office, I had a very easy route to do that. All I had to do was go back to Alabama and run all around the 7th Congressional District saying how sorry I was and doing the biggest mea culpa anybody ever saw and begging forgiveness, and I'd be a U.S. congressman again. I would have won my old seat back pretty easily. That's not what was important to me though.

Cavuto: You were such a high-profile backer of the president and sort of represented, I guess at that time, the new South that was rallying around an African American who could be the first in the White House. That proved to be the case. When did it start going bad for you?

Davis: Well, it became very clear in 2009 and 2010, Neil, that the agenda of the Democratic Party was frankly not the agenda that I thought I would see. I may be a minority in this regard, but I'm one of the people who supported Barack Obama because I thought that he was in the center. I thought that he was someone who might be running to the left in the primaries to win the nomination. I got that. But I believed him when he said he wanted to turn the page. I thought that he was going to be a pro-growth president. I thought that his focus at all times was going to be national unity and bringing the country together, and I saw an enormous amount of potential.

What did we see? We saw a very different path. 2009 and 2010, we saw the Democratic Party decide that for the first time in our country's history, it was going to push through a major piece of domestic legislation that over 50 percent of the country opposed. Better known as ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act. And so many times in 2009 and 2010, I heard people in the Democratic Party say, 'Oh, we know this is unpopular. We know people don't support this. But sometimes politicians just have to do that.' Well, the reality is our presidents in the past have felt it was important to bring us together and to try to build a consensus and to reach across party lines. I didn't see that effort. I voted against ObamaCare.

But, again, it's been a gradual process over a period of time, and I emphasize the last two years. When you're in office, of course you have to say things that end up pleasing your party. It's a two-team sports sometimes. But the reality is when you're out of office and you have a chance to think about the direction of our country, the drift of our country, and the fact that the economy today -- well, people say it's a recovery. People like you and me can call it a recovery because we're doing OK. There's many people walking around in this country who are not doing OK. And the market is beginning to move back now. There are all kinds of predictions that we could lurch back into a place we don't want to be in the next several months. Policies we have in place aren't consistently working. I could give you a laundry list. But what we're doing is not working, and I'm someone who classifies myself as being on the center-right. There is no center-right in the Democratic Party. There is in the Republican Party, and I want to help it and be a part of it.

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