Aiken: People need 'to see me in a different light'
May 20th, 2014
08:44 AM ET
7 months ago

Aiken: People need 'to see me in a different light'

(CNN) - Clay Aiken says his "American Idol" fame is both a blessing and a curse as he runs for Congress in his native North Carolina.

"It's both. You know, you've got to get people to see me in a different light. Getting the opportunity to talk to people about the issues that are affecting them and talk about how I want to help people, gets people to see me in a different light. It's a blessing in the fact that it gets me in the room, but I have to overcome the fact that people see me in one way and not the other," Aiken said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.

Aiken is the Democratic nominee in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District. He'll face off in November in an uphill fight against Republican Renee Elmers. The two-term incumbent representative earlier this year took a swipe at Aiken, saying that his performing career wasn't going well and that he was bored.

Asked about those comments, Aiken said "of course. I'm not naive to the fact that this a challenge that I have to overcome. It's a mountain to climb, but we've had quite a bit of success in the past three months in climbing it and we'll continue to do that the next six."

Aiken's celebrity status gives him instant name recognition in the district, where he grew up, and should allow him to raise a lot of campaign cash. But the second congressional district, located in the central and eastern parts of North Carolina, is GOP country. The two-term Ellmers won 56% of the vote in her 2012 re-election, slightly underperforming the GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who beat President Barack Obama 58%-41% in the district.

But Aiken remains optimistic about his chances.

"This district is about a third independent. And so it has swayed conservatively in the past. But also, more historically, even more further back in the past, it's gone to a Democrat," Aiken said. "People are tired of partisan politics. You've got everyone who votes because people in the media talk about R and D. But people at home, they don't talk about party. They talk about the things that are important to them."

Aiken gained national attention when he came in second to Ruben Studdard in the second season of "American Idol." In 2008 he came out as gay, and he's criticized North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage. While he isn't highlighting same-sex marriage on the campaign trail, he says he isn't downplaying the issue.

"I don't know that we're necessarily particularly specifically down playing anything. We're up playing the things that are affecting people's lives. The fact that students are coming out of college with average of $29,000 worth of debt. The fact that the unemployment rate is not lowering, is not going down as fast as it could be. Veterans affairs. Education in general. We're talking about the things that are affecting people's lives and that's not necessarily one of them," Aiken added.

Last week results from the May 6 Democratic primary indicated Aiken had beat his main opponent, Keith Crisco, by fewer than 400 votes. A third Democratic candidate trailed further behind. The final results were announced one day after Crisco died suddenly at his home.

Asked about his opponent's death, Aiken said "it's a difficult thing for everyone to have to deal with."

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story


Filed under: 2014 • North Dakota
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Silence DoGood

    @what happened
    Last week results from the May 6 Democratic primary indicated Aiken had beat his main opponent, Keith Crisco, by fewer than 400 votes. A third Democratic candidate trailed further behind. The final results were announced one day after Crisco died suddenly at his home.
    -
    OK, does anybody know where Hillary Clinton was when this happened? Has a cause of death been determined? Did they do an autopsy to see if he was poisoned or drugged?
    -------
    Don't laugh. There is a tinfoil hat club out there right now getting excited about believing that.

    May 20, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. i'll say this about that

    Thomas
    Go All The Way Clay Aiken !
    Republican Renee Elmers needs to go back to whatever he used to do , maybe find a real job where he doesn't just take up space , collecting a check for kickbacks and golden hand shakes doesn't last forever .
    -–

    Another one of those highly educated Democrat voters that doesn't know Renee is a woman. Obviously didn't even read the story. Yes, do tell us all about how smart Democrats are...

    May 20, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. CryBabies

    @ Sly...This market has almost nothing that is correlated to President Obama. Nothing he has done has helped this market to the record highs we've seen in the indexes. Companies are not increasing their revenues, they're cutting their costs. Choice: Rollover that CD for one year at .7% or invest in an undervalued stock yielding a dividend at 4.3%. Thats what people are faced with.........and it has nothing to do with this Administrations policies.

    May 20, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Leftist Strategy Revealed

    Democrats facts are true and honest. Everybody else is lying.

    Democrats equivalentcies are correct and true. Everybody elses are wrong and not true.

    Democrats don't lie. Everybody else lies.

    Obama was voted Liar of the Year in 2013. Oops.....

    May 20, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. CryBabies

    Record housing prices????? Please tell me where other than Washington DC. That doesn't help the rest of us in America.

    May 20, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I'm so sick of the hypocrisy from the right. Hillary is too old, yet in 2008 they ran McCain who was a fossil even back then. Every POTUS has been an old man except JFK, Lil Bush and President Obama. But now she's too old. As for the celebrities I guess they only like draft dodging has been singers that pooped their pants to avoid the draft and has been actors that that talk to empty chairs.

    Both sides have celebrities. Get over it and move the eff on!

    May 20, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Can't say nothing about St. Ronnie huh?

    May 20, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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