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# 65: "Clay Aiken's Not Just Any Joe"


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Chuck Todd (msnbc) interview from this morning:


Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell (msnbc) interview from last night:


I gotta love the fact that he's getting all kinds of good media over this. I also like that almost everyone out there is taking him pretty seriously -- in more than a few instances, eating their words, after seeing either the campaign video or watching him being interviewed.

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I'm posting this one here, because I kinda love it...

Has this one been posted yet? It's from NPR.

Song And Dance: Of Course Clay Aiken is Running for Congress

Yesterday, we learned that Clay Aiken, who lost to Ruben Studdard at the end of the second season of American Idol way back in 2003, will be running for Congress in North Carolina's 2nd District.

Let's all smirk about what the world is coming to if an American Idol runner-up can run for Congress. Let's all roll our eyes, let's all be deeply and highly amused. What a silly idea! A reality show person, my word.

<snip with examples of other politicians starting from show biz>

Truly, Clay Aiken running for Congress isn't even that weird. This has been going on for so long, and making people chortle derisively for so long, that there's a Tom Lehrer song about it that was written in 1965 — about the song-and-dance-man-turned-politician George Murphy, which rhymed "Helen Gahagan" (actress who married actor Melvyn Douglas and was elected to Congress) and "Ronald Reagan" (whom you may have heard of). "Ronald Reagan," by the way, was specifically pronounced with utter bafflement, 15 years before the guy got a big promotion.

It may sound silly, but plenty of people who run for Congress have done nothing that particularly suggests useful expertise, and in Aiken's case, while not all of us are fans of his singing style, he's got a solid history with issue advocacy, particularly for people with disabilities. And he is one of the very few people about whom I would say, "Well, and he was very likeable on that Celebrity Apprentice program." (He lost to Arsenio Hall. What a ripoff. Don't get me started.)

Yes, he once warbled a love song originated by a cartoon mouse. But hey, everyone does things they regret, or at least some of the rest of us regret, and if you don't believe me, look at Ryan Seacrest's hair in that clip.

Clay Aiken probably wouldn't even make the Top 500 on a list of Silliest Humans To Run For Office This Year. He sings, he dances (sort of), he used to be a special ed teacher, and once he gets over the hurdle of reminding people that this time around they can only vote for him once, there's no telling how far he might go. For good or for ill, running for office has never been limited to those with a spotless history of being taken seriously.

Love the bolded part.

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Hopefully on the weekend I'll be able to catch up on all these articles and videos! Life seems to be in warp speed right now between Clay, Olympics, and my kids. I'm glad it seems as though people are opening their eyes to the fact that this is one serious, intelligent candidate!

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Nice article from Ruben:

Ruben Studdard Reacts to Clay Aiken's Run for Congress: He's "Very Passionate"

Ruben Studdard Reacts to Clay Aiken's Run for Congress: He's 'Very Passionate'

5:12 PM PST 2/6/2014 by Fred Bronson

The season two winner tells THR it "could be the best thing that ever happened to his district."


Vince Bucci/Getty Images

Clay Aiken, left, and Ruben Studdard

While Clay Aiken was sitting down with Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC to discuss the first day of his congressional candidacy, Ruben Studdard was sitting down with The Hollywood Reporter[2]at the Daily Grill in Studio City. The topic of discussion was Studdard’s new album, Unconditional Love, released this week on the Verve label. But the conversation quickly turned to Aiken’s announcement that he was running to represent his North Carolina district in Washington, D.C.

“Clay is very passionate about the things he believes in,” Studdard replied when THR asked him about his fellow season two finalist. “If he wins the race, it could be the best thing that’s ever happened to his district. Not because of his celebrity but because of the things he cares about. It takes a special person to educate children with special needs and that’s what he did even before he was a celebrity. Right now in America, you either have money or you don’t. Clay has lived in both income levels and he’ll be able to effectively address the issues that impact the lives of people in his district."

“I’m really proud of him," he continued. "Proud that he’s brave enough to do this because when you run for public office, you open yourself up to a lot of criticism.”

And would Studdard be willing to help out with the campaign, especially with fundraising? “If Clay calls me, I’ll be there,” he says.

That may come as a surprise to some fans of the winner and runner-up of season two, who are still battling it out in cyberspace about who should have won that season of American Idol.

“I think it’s ridiculous that 10 years later people on the internet are still fussing with each other,” says Studdard. “Clay and I are clearly friends. It was great to go out on tour together. We had no idea our fans were like the Hatfields and the McCoys. Meanwhile, Clay and I are at Denny’s eating pancakes. Both of us had this amazing opportunity to be on a show that changed everybody’s lives and I wouldn’t change that experience for the world.”

Twitter: @FredBronson [7]

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I listened to an interview on Sirius this morning. He did very well before his segment came on the hosts were really complimentary about him and his ad. Said it was really impressive.

An idiot called in about the drinking tweet and the host quickly defended Clay and asked seriously you are not going to vote because of a joke tweet? The guy said it was racist and the host could not make him understand it was a silly joke.

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Ldy has already posted this in the news thread (while I can barely keep up with reading it all), but this one is a favorite.


Clay Aiken's Campaign Ad Is Personal, Political and Nearly Perfect

Singer quickly proves congressional bid is no joke

By David Griner

February 6, 2014, 11:14 AM EST

It's hard to say what we were expecting from reality TV star Clay Aiken's first campaign ad in his congressional campaign, but this certainly isn't it.

Instead of leveraging his fame or playing to the media circus around his decision to run for a House seat from North Carolina, he has created a political ad that's thoughtful, sincere and just an all-around example of great storytelling.

Filmed in one seamless five-minute shot, Aiken's ad was filmed in the home where he and his mother sought refuge from his abusive father. Aiken patiently unravels the story of his life and political awakening, gradually transitioning into his criticisms of his district's current legislator, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers.

Ellmers is a Republican and Aiken a Democrat, a fact he quickly shrugs off as if it's a mere technicality unrelated to the matters at hand. But of course it will matter. This ad is sure to have its critics, since we live in a political era that seems incapable of respecting any message that comes from a messenger on the other side of the aisle.

But politicians from both parties would be wise to watch Aiken's video and learn from his ability to come across as humble, informed and sincere. He may not have the "aw, shucks" everyman persona of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but he's about as close as you're going to find in 2014.

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That's a great article. It'd be fun if it won an award.

If that tweet is considered racist what about some of those comments about our President. Yesterday doing taxes for a woman for free, she started to say something about the President. I told her we don't discuss politics. She then shouted out, "I hate Muslims". I told her "How do you know whether I'm a Muslim or not"? Shut her up for a while. She than complained about not getting money back on her return. She is on disability and has nothing taken out for taxes. I would have loved to show her the door but we can't discriminate. Grr!

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This was from yesterday, three top stories from the NY Times:



Also yesterday, I like this columnist, but she will be eating her words soon (and boy am I enjoying all the folks eating their words) http://www.nytimes.c...hp&rref=opinion

Calling All Candidates

FEB. 5, 2014

Gail Collins

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re now in an election year.

Not that one. You are not in charge of thinking about the presidential race yet. Even the people who have to go to the polls first know it’s still O.K. to tune out on that one. I am thinking of the New Hampshire Republicans who said, in a recent poll, that Mitt Romney was currently at the top of their favorites list.

This year, we are mainly doing Congress. And already lots of excitement! Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts, appears to be planning to run again from his former vacation home in New Hampshire. Seems promising. We have not had a good when-the-heck-did-you-move-here controversy since we lost Liz Cheney from the Wyoming race.

Brown has not officially announced his candidacy, but he did show up shirtless for the New Hampshire news media when he took part in the state’s recent Penguin Plunge. Also, according to a report in The Boston Globe, while the Plungers were supposed to just race in and out of the water, Brown persevered into the frozen ocean until he was ordered back by a lifeguard.

Besides Scott Brown’s chest, one of the early election themes in 2014 is tons of Republican incumbents being driven crazy by Tea Party primaries. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi has a big Tea Party threat, despite the fact that Cochran perfectly represents the traditional political creed of his state, which is that the federal government should do as little as possible, except for giving a whole bunch of money to Mississippi.

At least half of the Senate Republicans running for re-election have Tea Party primary opponents. In Washington, this is regarded as pretty much a license to do everything possible to secure the base. Even your Democratic colleagues will just say, “Oh, he has a Tea Party opponent,” and ignore the fact that you are sitting on the floor, gnawing the draperies during debate.

But there ought to be some sorting. For instance, Senator John Cornyn of Texas has a Tea Party challenger. In fact, he has a bunch. The best-known is Representative Steve Stockman, who virtually never shows up for campaign events, has raised virtually no money and whose campaign office was condemned.

Honestly, Cornyn should be stripped of all his rights to pander to the right in the name of Tea Party primary problems. The next time he gets up on the Senate floor to rant about Obamacare, tell him to sit down and let Thad Cochran have his turn.

Some voters get primaries, others barely get ballots. Most of us are sadly aware that some of the most important races we’re going to be asked to decide this fall will involve an incumbent pitted against nobody. Or, if we’re lucky, Fred Who Wandered By at the Convention.

Perhaps you remember the Idaho Senate race of 2010. Well, perhaps you don’t. That’s really O.K. Mike Crapo, the incumbent, was such an odds-on favorite that no one was willing to run against him until William Bryk, a Brooklyn bankruptcy lawyer, declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. Bryk was taking advantage of rules that did not actually require you to live in Idaho in order to run for a U.S. Senate seat there, and his slogan was “If Elected, I Will Move.” The publicity helped draw in other Democrats, one of whom beat Bryk in a primary and then went on to be trounced by Crapo in November. But at least there was somebody to show up for the debates.

This year, the Idaho Democratic Party reports that it’s going to be in good shape. “You don’t have to send us any candidates!” hastily interjected Dean Ferguson, the state party communications director. They do seem to have everything covered. A wealthy Boise businessman has thrown his hat into the ring to run against Gov. Butch Otter, and State Representative Shirley Ringo is going to run against Representative Raúl Labrador. Way to go, Democrats! And great work, Idaho, with the name thing.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Clay Aiken, the runner-up for the second American Idol title, has announced that he is running for a Democratic nomination for the House. The seat in question was gerrymandered to be safe for Republicans, and this brings up an interesting possibility.

It's hard to recruit recognizable names for long-shot Congressional races. But there are dozens of former American Idol finalists. Many of them hailed from red states, and many of them don't seem to currently have a whole lot to do with their time.

Maybe the Democrats could recruit retired American Idols to fill out their empty ballot lines in the South. Maybe there is a similar crop of Republican semi-celebrities available to run in places like New England. We could check out the hockey teams.

Honestly, somebody is always better than nobody. Except possibly when we are talking about Donald Trump running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in New York.

This one is an AP article I saw posted on Yahoo. What's funny to me is that the photo they used is a shot of him in Drop Dead Diva!


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For those who don't get his emails:


People warned me when I began to consider running for Congress that politics could be a nasty, divisive business. I told them I understood. All you have to do is read the newspaper or watch the news each evening to understand that Washington D.C. is dysfunctional and that our politics seem hopelessly divided.

But even I didn’t think that my opponent would attack our campaign before it even began. It is emblematic of Washington D.C. values. The values that say that doing what is best for the people who voted for you matters less than the party leadership. The same values that say that even when both parties know that legislation should be passed, we have to fight to appease the extremists on the far left and far right.

The support that you have give me this week has also shown that politics can be positive and uplifting. You have said that you believe that we can do great things together and you have shown that you still believe that the people’s interest matters more than the special interests.

Will you make a gift of $10, $25, or $50 today? We want to raise another $15,000 this weekend so that we can continue to spread our message of unity, positive change, and standing up for what is right. Your gift will show my opponent that North Carolina values are alive and well.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the attacks this week. I’ve lived in North Carolina virtually my entire life. My mother, like many hard working North Carolinians, worked nights and taught me the value of a dollar and of hard work. My mom also eventually built her own successful business. My grandparents taught me the value of treating others the way that you wanted to be treated. When I was a camp counselor at the YMCA and a special education teacher my students taught me the value of standing up for those without a voice.

I’ll take the values of my family, friends, students, and neighbors over the values of the insiders in Washington D.C. any day of the week. Your gift today will show them that our values will be represented in Congress.

Thank you for your tremendous outpouring of support this week. This campaign wouldn’t be possible without you.

All the best,

Clay Aiken

PS - I hope that you will make this campaign OUR campaign. Sign up today!

Paid for by Clay Aiken for North Carolina

Clay for North Carolina

PO Box 3809

Cary NC 27519-3809 United States

If you believe you received this message in error or wish to no longer receive email from us, please unsubscribe.

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I will be posting the full text of this one in the news section later, but this one is really good too. Written by Omarosa, the "villan" of a couple of Apprentice shows. Didn't know she had worked for the Clinton Administration!

Opinion: Why Reality TV Was the Perfect Prep for Clay Aiken's Jump Into Politics

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From a NY Times political blogger:


February 5, 2014, 11:23 am

He Can Carry a Tune, but Can He Carry the Race?


WASHINGTON - Clay Aiken, the 2003 runner-up on 'American Idol', officially announced on Wednesday that he is running for Congress in North Carolina. Now it is time to ponder some questions he might face on the stump:

Clay Aiken

1. Many Democrats in North Carolina have bailed out of Congressional races after being drawn into heavily Republican districts, like the one you are running in. How can you win?

2. What are your thoughts on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership and how it might affect the North Carolina manufacturing industry?

3. What do you think is harder placing in a national singing competition or passing meaningful legislation in Congress?

4 During one talk show appearance, you spoke out against North Carolinas constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage. Although many people were impressed, do you think it helps or hurts you in this race?

5. Harry Connick Jr: a good addition to the Idol judge panel, or too obtuse?

Mr. Aiken's announcement video focuses on his abusive father and early difficulties in life, and it only hints at his musical career.

Representative Renee Ellmers, who ran as a Tea Party candidate in 2010 and barely squeaked into office, has dismissed Mr. Aiken as unable to win Idol and thus ill-equipped to unseat her. Mr. Aiken suggests that his humble beginnings and time working with children with autism best qualifies him for a seat in the House.

The Second District, which covers some central and Eastern areas of the state, is now overwhelmingly Republican and Ms. Ellmers, a nurse, quickly grew close to her party's leadership team.

She got shot down by another Times reporter, who stole the headline and modified it, and asked Clay the American Idol question, to which he responded, "haven't watched it years." That one's been posted already.

Even better--it's the same reporter after she talked to him. news thread

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Couple follow-ups from the News & Observer:


Response to Aiken's entry into congressional race is mixed

By Craig Jarvis

jarvis@newsobserver.com February 5, 2014 Updated 7 hours ago

Clay Aiken's announcement Wednesday that he wants to be a congressman from North Carolina drew the expected national attention and mixed reactions.

Some expressed skepticism that the entertainer is substantial or conservative enough to carry the 2nd Congressional District. Others welcomed his entry into the Democratic primary and speculated he could defeat U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, the Republican incumbent from Dunn.

Among those who broadcast their support for him on Twitter was Arsenio Hall, who tweeted: “Run Clay Run!!!” And 2003 “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard, tweeted “Please support my friend.” Aiken was a runner-up to Studdard, but the show launched his successful career as a singer.

Then there was the less enthusiastic “Now I’ve seen everything,” from a man in Illinois.

Meanwhile, the national news media glare intensified.

Aiken, 35, spent the day Wednesday doing interviews, including an extended segment on CNN, where he said President Barack Obama could do a better job resolving the dysfunction"; in Washington. “He is not immune from the criticism, Aiken said.

A New York Times reporter was quick to post a list of five questions Aiken might face on the campaign trail. They ranged from what he thinks of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership and its impact on North Carolina manufacturing, to whether it's harder to place in a national singing contest or to pass meaningful legislation in Congress.

The N.C. Republican Party wants to know what he thinks about gun control and abortion.

"The residents of North Carolina’s 2nd District have no clue where Aiken stands on important issues and whether he's going to be an automatic vote for President Obama and Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda," GOP spokesman Daniel Keylin said in a news release.

Aiken's campaign spokesman, Karl Frisch, responded:“The GOP’s press release looks like it walked out of central casting for ‘politics as usual.’ Clay’s announcement video and subsequent media interviews begin his conversation about the problems 2nd District families face, the role the incumbent has played in exacerbating those problems, and the solutions he’ll seek in Washington. While we appreciate their interest in how Clay should conduct his campaign, they’ve not proven themselves to be particularly good stewards of the 2nd District, so we’ll have to pass.”

But those questions will persist in the battleground that is the weirdly lopsided U-shaped district that Republicans redrew in 2011.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake blogged that only three House Democrats represent districts that are more Republican than Ellmers’ district. Two of them – Rep. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah – are retiring. The third, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, is in a tight race despite having been in office for decades.

Mitt Romney won almost 60 percent of the vote in that district in 2012, according to an analysis by the N.C. Chamber. The election saw easy margins of victory by several statewide Republican candidates.

The worst-performing GOP candidate in that election, unsuccessful state schools superintendent candidate John Tedesco, still won that district with 51.4 percent of the vote.

“I have no doubt Clay Aiken will have all the money he needs to run an effective campaign. And his ‘I’m not a politician’ message is the right one for this political environment,” the Chamber’s Nathan Babcock said. “But even the strongest Democratic candidate faces a steep uphill climb in the 2nd Congressional District.”

Yet David Wasserman, an analyst of U.S. House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said in an interview Wednesday that Aiken livens up the race, which could test whether elections have become entirely partisan.

“If a candidate as likeable and as backed by as much star power as Clay Aiken cannot win in this solidly Republican seat, who can?” Wasserman said. “Clay Aiken’s records have sold well in areas like the 2nd District, but the Republicans’ ability to draw the map prior to 2012 is a much more daunting factor in this race.”

Aiken will still face a strong opponent in the May primary election. Former state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco said he will remain in the race.

Another candidate, Durham lawyer Houston Barnes, agreed to step aside and support Aiken. In October, Barnes became the first candidate to announce. In three months, he raised half of his $63,000 campaign fund from more than 200 individual donors.

Crisco, 70, started a war chest at the end of last year with a $95,000 loan to himself, with few contributions so far. Toni Morris, a Fayetteville counselor, is also running but has yet to file a finance report. The filing period to run begins Monday.

“I look forward to a vigorous discussion about who is the most qualified person to represent the people of the second district and win in November,” Crisco, an Asheboro businessman, said in a statement.

Despite Crisco’s longtime political connections as a member of former Gov. Bev Perdue’s Cabinet, some of the Democratic mainstays appear to be lining up behind Aiken. That includes former Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, who is treasurer for Aiken’s federal campaign committee, Clay Aiken for North Carolina. Renee Schoof of the McClatchy D.C. bureau contributed.

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