Artur Davis gets RNC speaking slot, blasts Biden comments as ‘insulting’ to blacks

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Artur Davis (AP phtoo)

Artur Davis (AP phtoo)

Former Alabama congressman Artur Davis, who made a high-profile switch to the Republican Party earlier this year, Wednesday blasted controversial comments by Vice President Biden, calling them “insulting to African-Americans.”

Referring to Biden, who on Tuesday had told a audience in Virginia that included many blacks, that Romney would allow Wall Street to “put y’all back in chains,” Davis used an interview with CNN to aggressively attack his former party.

“It’s a divisive tactic that insulting to African-Americans. It’s insulting to the American people,” he said. He added, “It ought to embarrass President Obama. President Obama has talked so movingly about our country moving beyond race, and his own vice president makes this kind of comment yesterday?”

Obama aides have defended Biden and argue Republicans are taking his comments out of context.

The move came as Republicans announced Thursday Davis would be speaking at the Republican National Convention next month, the latest step in the reinvention of the Harvard Law grad. Four years ago, Davis was closely linking himself to the president, serving as a campaign co-chair and looking to model his own political rise after Obama’s.

But Davis was defeated in a gubernatorial primary in Alabama in 2010, losing the black vote to his white Democratic rival after African-American activists in the state split with him over his decision to oppose Obama’s health care law. He announced he would join the GOP earlier this year and is expected to run for a House seat in his newly-adopted state of Virginia.

Wednesday’s interview was his biggest moment yet as a Republican and Romney supporter, and conservatives on Twitter were eager to highlight his remarks. But his speech at the RNC will make him a national figure among Republicans, both because of his race and his decision to sharply turn against Obama. In announcing Davis as a convention speaker, the GOP noted he was a “former Democratic National Convention Speaker” and “the first member of Congress not from Illinois to endorse President Obama.”

“The talk and inspiration moved so many of us four years ago, but unfortunately we haven’t seen the action to back it up,” Davis said in a statement that announced his speech. He added, “At the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Republicans take a step to undo the mismanagement [by Obama] and nominate Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States.”

Davis is not Romney’s most prominent black supporter, as  Condoleezza Rice, the former Bush secretary of state and national security adviser, is also one of main speakers at the Republican National Convention next month and is much better known. But Davis could play an important role in Romney’s campaign, as Rice is not likely to make blunt comments about race as Davis did Wednesday.

Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr