Spin Cycle

Ex-congressman: Campaigns Faking Empthy Over Hurricane

Tom Davis also warns of 'dysfunctional' GOP candidates

11.01.12 2:34 PM ET

The country’s attention is riveted on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but former congressman Tom Davis says there’s a certain amount of political theater involved.

“Although everyone feigns concern about the victims, the campaign goes on,” the Virginia Republican tells me in a video interview.

That was an eye-opener, and Davis quickly clarified that he’s sure Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are “sincere” in their concerns. But, he adds, “you know the operatives are worried about the politics of this.” And Davis acknowledged that Chris Christie’s embrace of Obama while touring storm-damaged New Jersey : “There’s no question a crisis helps an incumbent president.”

Davis was a moderate Republican in the years he represented the Northern Virginia suburbs in the House, so he is in tune with Romney’s closing message. But what about the two years that Romney spent running as a “severely conservative” ex-governor? Davis again raises the question of political deceit.

In today’s politics, he says, “you have to feign left, you have to feign right…Romney did what he had to do to get nominated.”

Isn’t that troubling? “It’s the system,” says Davis. He calls it “a very bipolar system” in which partisanship is fueled by redistricting, Super PACs and “very polarized media models, MSNBC and Fox.”

As for Senate races, Davis believes the GOP has a shot at regaining control, but adds candidly: “Republicans got some dysfunctional candidates out there [in states] that ought to be slam dunks.” He cited Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin in Missouri, both of whom created firestorms with their comments about rape and abortion.

All right, congressman, time to put your cards on the table. Who’s going to win Virginia?

It will be “very close,” Davis says. “If I had to put my money on anyone, Romney has a better shot.”