Artur Davis, the former Alabama Democratic congressman who recently announced his rebirth as a Virginia Republican, appeared before the Northern Virginia Tea Party on Monday, delivering a speech that referenced Ronald Reagan and Rosa Parks, while congratulating the Tea Party on their success over the past few years.
“I want to submit to you that in the last 100 years, no political organization, in the history of this country, has done more to shape or influence politics as quickly as y’all did.” Davis said. “You know, my kinfolk from the South in the civil rights movement changed the country. But even the civil rights movement did not figure out how to win elections and turn a country around as quickly as you did.”
Davis did some work explaining himself, and the political conversion he’s undergone.
“I want to put myself in perspective,” he said. “I am one person, out of eight to 10 million people, who voted for Barack Obama four years ago, who based on polling today say they shall not do it again.”
During the well-received remarks, Davis argued that “2012 is a 1980 kind of moment.” In 1980, Davis said, “they told us the Europeans and the Asians were the wave of the future. They told us that our young people wouldn’t know times like we did before.”
“That sound familiar?” he asked.
Enter: Ronald Reagan.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in 1980, one man, from a small town in Illinois, said I know what they say, I hear the doubts in the wind, but I will not be bowed,” Davis said. “This man, who was supposedly old and faded, issued the same call that a 43-year-old named Jack Kennedy issued in 1960, and said that we can do better.”
That said, Davis admitted that “we don’t have Ronald Reagan running this year. There was only one. But I want to submit to you, that Ronald Reagan’s values are alive in the Republican party today.”
Last week, Davis headlined a small campaign event for Mitt Romney in Virginia.
Watch the end of Davis’ Monday speech here:
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com