Aiken: People need 'to see me in a different light'
May 20th, 2014
08:44 AM ET
8 years 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.

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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. sly

    Conservative banking magazine Forbes:

    The 10 highest educated states voted for President Obama.
    9 of the 10 least educated states voted for Mitt Romney.

    Simply put: Intelligent Americans vote for Democrats.

    Given this evidence, it is not likely that Aiken will win.

    May 20, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. thomas

    He just might win!!!!!!!!!!

    May 20, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "When it comes to FRAUD, your side takes the cake as evidenced by the voter turnout from our dead citizens. BAAAHH"

    Doesn't exist. Time and time and time again it's proven not to exist on any level worth even mentioning or spending any time concerned over it. Yet you continue to believe it does and yammer incessantly about it, but we know that it's just part of the GOP/Teatrolls' desperate response to their impending demographic Armageddon.

    "And what was the voter turnout from our dead citizens? Wasn't it something like 0.00000006% of voters?"

    Probably tens of times less than that. GOPers/Teatrolls consider it a "dead person voting" when someone dies a week before an election and their name remains on the registration lists. They consistently get caught trying to count things like that as a "dead person voting" and evidence of "voter fraud."

    May 20, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Malory Archer

    Anonymous
    Weren't all the lefty tools in here a day or two ago attacking TEA Party people as people with no experience? So what about this 'guy'? No experience either. I eagerly awaiting your attacks on his lack of experience.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    None of us "lefties" "attack" the TP crowd for not having experience – we "attack" them for their horrible policy ideas and their "shut down America if we don't get out way" ideology.

    May 20, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. just asking

    Rudy NYC
    And what was the voter turnout from our dead citizens? Wasn't it something like 0.00000006% of voters?
    --

    all types of voter fraud need to be stopped. for every illegally cast ballot, that means that many other legit votes are nullified. add up all of the types of election fraud and it makes a difference, especially when elections are coming down to a few votes or a few hundred votes.

    why are liberals and democrats so afraid of protecting the integrity of our elections? it is only logical and right. it must be because they have something to lose. maybe many fraudulent votes????

    May 20, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. Vexxer

    No Clay, YOU need people to see you in a different light. The People don't need to see you at all.

    May 20, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. matt

    Well give that seat to the republicans.

    May 20, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. Tommy G

    sly
    Conservative banking magazine Forbes:
    The 10 highest educated states voted for President Obama.
    9 of the 10 least educated states voted for Mitt Romney.
    Simply put: Intelligent Americans vote for Democrats.
    ---

    Well they voted for 8 years of record unemployment, a stagnant economy, a foreign policy that has the world laughing at us and a totally incompetent and corrupt administration.

    Sure looks like the "educated states" know diddly squat!! The know it alls don't have an ounce of common sense to know when they have conned and lied to but the average American sure does.

    May 20, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. sly

    "why are liberals and democrats so afraid of protecting the integrity of our elections?"
    ======
    Thank you for helping validate the Forbes magazine study on ignorance that I mentioned above. Everyone knows the Party of Stupid has cheated, lied, and committed felonies to stay in power. From The Crook Nixon to The WMD Liar Bush to the Swift Boaters, the very essence of the Republican Party is to lie and cheat. Always has been, always will.

    May 20, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Malory Archer
    None of us "lefties" "attack" the TP crowd for not having experience – we "attack" them for their horrible policy ideas and their "shut down America if we don't get out way" ideology.
    ---

    And yet that is EXACTLY what the Democrats and Obama did. "I will not negotiate". Obama's words. Harry Reid turning the Senate into a legislative grave yard. But that is some how different right? Riiight...

    May 20, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  11. tom l

    I'm sure Melowese Richardson is the only one. I'm sure of it.

    May 20, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. Malory Archer

    Vexxer
    No Clay, YOU need people to see you in a different light. The People don't need to see you at all.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Why?

    May 20, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. Malory Archer

    Anonymous
    Malory Archer
    None of us "lefties" "attack" the TP crowd for not having experience – we "attack" them for their horrible policy ideas and their "shut down America if we don't get out way" ideology.
    -

    And yet that is EXACTLY what the Democrats and Obama did. "I will not negotiate". Obama's words. Harry Reid turning the Senate into a legislative grave yard. But that is some how different right? Riiight...

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    President Obama "negotiated" with the reds for his ENTIRE first term, and it got him nowhere. He finally took the gloves off on January 21, 2013 and told the reds he was done attempting to "negotiate" with them because there WAS no "negotiation" – it was the reds' way or no way at all. I say KUDOS to President Obama for finally finding a spine and standing up to the red obstruction.

    May 20, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    @sly
    "why are liberals and democrats so afraid of protecting the integrity of our elections?"
    ======
    Thank you for helping validate the Forbes magazine study on ignorance that I mentioned above. Everyone knows the Party of Stupid has cheated, lied, and committed felonies to stay in power. From The Crook Nixon to The WMD Liar Bush to the Swift Boaters, the very essence of the Republican Party is to lie and cheat. Always has been, always will.
    ---------
    There is no better liberal promotion than a conservative from the land of fact-free with their mouth open.

    May 20, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    just asking

    Rudy NYC
    And what was the voter turnout from our dead citizens? Wasn't it something like 0.00000006% of voters?
    -

    all types of voter fraud need to be stopped. for every illegally cast ballot, that means that many other legit votes are nullified. add up all of the types of election fraud and it makes a difference, especially when elections are coming down to a few votes or a few hundred votes.

    why are liberals and democrats so afraid of protecting the integrity of our elections? it is only logical and right. it must be because they have something to lose. maybe many fraudulent votes????
    =====================================================================
    What is wrong with the voter registration card that they sent to me in the mail? What's wrong with signing a book and comparing it to signature that they have on file, created when you registered to vote.

    May 20, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. Malory Archer

    tom l
    I'm sure Melowese Richardson is the only one. I'm sure of it.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    So who are the others? If it's as "rampant" as the reds like to whine that it is, SURELY you can find other examples. That being said, the majority of voter fraud cases involve mail in ballots, and it's a known fact that the reds vote absentee on a far greater scale than Dems.

    May 20, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Marty

    I don't know if it helps or hurts but I don know what is in Washington doesn't work so let's try something different.

    May 20, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Jackson

    Anonymous

    Malory Archer
    None of us "lefties" "attack" the TP crowd for not having experience – we "attack" them for their horrible policy ideas and their "shut down America if we don't get out way" ideology.
    -

    And yet that is EXACTLY what the Democrats and Obama did. "I will not negotiate". Obama's words. Harry Reid turning the Senate into a legislative grave yard. But that is some how different right? Riiight...

    _________________

    They learned it from Gingrich and Dole who actually DID shut congress down for several days because they didn't get their way.

    May 20, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Jackson

    Woodrow

    Does his celebrity help or hurt? Oh, please. The guy wouldn't be running, let alone getting the dem nomination, if not for his celebrity and the $ it attracts. Another politician wannabe who's practical experience involves getting on a stage. As for helping people – GET OUT OF THE WAY SO WE CAN HELP OURSELVES!

    _______________

    You mean like Reagan and Schwarzenggar?

    May 20, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. just asking

    Rudy NYC
    What is wrong with the voter registration card that they sent to me in the mail? What's wrong with signing a book and comparing it to signature that they have on file, created when you registered to vote.
    -–

    no photo, that is what is wrong. anybody can create simple documents these days with a color copier. takes zero talent. photo ids with proper fraud protection are not easily produced.

    and you expect the old folks that man the polls to be handwriting experts? now that is totally hilarious.

    May 20, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Gurgyl

    He will win in NC.

    May 20, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  22. realmike

    Its a democratic process and any citizen who wants to run should. I would rather cnn report more important aspects like his credentials and positions on issues than this silly aspect of being a "celebrity"

    May 20, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. critical thinking

    His celebrity status got him the democratic nomination but it won't deliver him a win in the general election. Way to waste a candidate dems, keep it going....

    May 20, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    just asking wrote:

    "What is wrong with the voter registration card that they sent to me in the mail? What's wrong with signing a book and comparing it to signature that they have on file, created when you registered to vote."

    no photo, that is what is wrong. anybody can create simple documents these days with a color copier. takes zero talent. photo ids with proper fraud protection are not easily produced.

    and you expect the old folks that man the polls to be handwriting experts? now that is totally hilarious
    --------------------------–
    New York has used the signature approach for decades. It works. Virtually no fraud at the polls.

    May 20, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. Donna

    "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.
    ========

    But why would anybody vote for a DEMOCRAT to fix any of this?!! Democrat policy is why kids graduating right now can't find jobs to pay off their student loans. Democrat policy is keeping the country unemployed. Democrats know the VA had problems and in nearly 6 years did nothing to fix them while vets were dying waiting for treatment.

    Is Clay Aiken trying to sabotage his own campaign?

    May 20, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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