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merrieeee

#66: "I'm Clay Aiken, and I Approved This Message!"

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The article is all online now. I'll comment later, when I get home this evening;

uexpress.com (reprinting from The New Republic)

Wooing the Republaiken Vote: A Reality Star's Very Sincere Campaign

The New Republic

Wooing the Republaiken Vote: A Reality Star's Very Sincere Campaign

Aug 08, 2014 small_avatar.png

by The Staff of The New Republic

Last August, in between performances of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at a summer-stock theater in Maine, Clay Aiken studied the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's demographic breakdown of North Carolina's second district. He concluded that, although challenging, the race was winnable. By the time he returned to his 9,000-square-foot mansion outside Raleigh that fall, the flame-haired former "American Idol" star was ready to run.

The first person Aiken called upon making his candidacy official was Jim Hunt, the former North Carolina governor and grand old man of Democratic politics in the state. One of his next calls was to Donald Trump. Aiken got to know The Donald a couple years earlier when he was a contestant on "The Celebrity Apprentice."

"He's very political," Aiken explains, "and if he had any disagreements with me, I wanted him to air them with me instead of on 'Fox and Friends.'" So far, Trump, whom Aiken likens to his Tea Party-supporting uncle ("I love him and he loves me and we don't agree on a whole lot"), has held his tongue.

Other famous friends of Aiken's have been more proactive in their support of his campaign. Arsenio Hall, who beat Aiken on "Celebrity Apprentice," got Paula Abdul, who once judged Aiken on "American Idol," to tweet her support. Ruben Studdard, who bested Aiken on "Idol," cut a radio ad for him during the Democratic primary. And Kathy Griffin, the comedian who for years made Aiken the butt of her jokes -- calling him "Miss Gayken" before he came out, then feigning disappointment about never getting to sleep with him once he did -- co-hosted a Los Angeles fund-raiser.

"I told her, 'You owe me commission, so it's time to pay up,'" Aiken says. Even the magician Penn Jillette, who, after competing against Aiken on "Celebrity Apprentice," suggested that he'd prefer waterboarding to talking to the singer, chipped in $500 to the campaign.

It's fair to say, then, that Aiken has the battle for C-list celebrity endorsements locked up. And, fortunately for him, his opponent, Renee Ellmers, is not overburdened with raw political talent. Since arriving in Congress in 2010, the former nurse has distinguished herself mostly by sticking her foot in her mouth: Just last month, she advised her male colleagues in the House to quit it already with the pie charts and graphs in budget debates and "bring it down to a woman's level." But Ellmers does have one big thing going for her. She's a Republican incumbent in a Republican district facing off against a Democratic challenger who's a gay former reality TV star -- or, as Ellmers' spokesperson has unsubtly described Aiken, "a performer whose political views more closely resemble those of San Francisco than Sanford." She is favored to win.

That has left Aiken working hard to convince voters he's more than just a piece of pop-cultural ephemera and, in fact, a legitimate product of the second district. Earlier this summer, I met Aiken for lunch at a dairy bar in the aforementioned Sanford after he'd spent the morning meeting with the mayor and reporters at the local newspaper. He was dressed for the occasion in a rough approximation of political casual, wearing a pink-and-green checked Oxford shirt and unlaced wingtips over white ankle socks. Now 35, Aiken has tamer hair and a thicker midsection than he did when he was one of People's "Sexiest Men Alive" a decade ago. He says he has gained 10 pounds in just the last few months. "Do you see how fat I'm getting?" he objected when the waitress asked whether he wanted dessert. Then he ordered the banana pudding.

Aiken is still easily recognizable, though, and his meal was continuously interrupted by autograph seekers.

"Don't Forget to Vote Nov. 4," he wrote above his signature every time. It was a message, he conceded, that people were still getting used to. "The first reaction from everybody is 'What the ...'" Aiken paused and theatrically mouthed the word. He continued, "We call it the 'What the Heck' mountain, except we may not call it that. That's the mountain we have to climb."

To that end, Aiken strives to be serious and sober while campaigning, even boring. He's not a "Duck Dynasty"-style quote machine. Nor is he running a hopeless race just for the cameras, like Thomas Ravenel on "Southern Charm." Aiken spends much of his time on the stump talking about his trips to Afghanistan and South Sudan as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and his experiences as a special-education teacher -- the career path he was on before he auditioned for "Idol" on a lark. In fact, it can be hard to shut him up about education policy, a topic he seems to understand better than probably 400 of the 435 people in the House of Representatives.

In a profession where even losers are increasingly winners -- where long shots launch hopeless bids for the White House with the goal of landing a TV talk show and incumbent congressmen go down in defeat secure in the knowledge that a huge lobbying payday awaits them -- Aiken is the rare politician who's actually risking something.

When he revealed in 2008 that he's gay, Aiken estimates that he lost about 5 to 10 percent of his fans. Running for Congress, he believes, has taken a far greater toll. "The minute you go into politics, the minute you put an R or a D behind your name, you cut your fan base in half," he says. Aiken is concerned enough about money that, shortly before declaring his candidacy, he sold his mansion, at a substantial loss, and moved into a smaller rental house. "I'm not working right now, so I'm not going to pay a mortgage," he says. (On the plus side, he has been able to store the furniture that doesn't fit in his new place at campaign headquarters.)

Aiken's gamble seems even more profound when you consider the particulars of his race. To the extent national Democrats are paying attention to North Carolina this year, it's to help keep Sen. Kay Hagan in office. And by choosing to run from his current address rather than district-shop, he has consigned himself to inhospitable political terrain. Aiken acknowledges that parts of his home district are so red that Democrats "learn to put their campaign signs deep in the yard so that when someone shoots at them they don't hit the house."

To compensate, he has staked out moderate -- and sometimes vague -- positions on everything from Obamacare to gun control to immigration. There's almost no issue he doesn't look at through the prism of how conservatives might object. During a recent lunch meeting at a greasy spoon in Moore County, Aiken ate a ham and cheese omelet while he listened to a local Democrat pitch him on a more robust spay-and-neuter policy. Aiken was skeptical. "What about the people who say, 'Keep your damn hands off my dog -- and his nuts'?" he asked.

Of course, there's one thing about Aiken that might not sit that well with some conservatives, which is why, although Aiken is no longer in the closet, he doesn't talk about his sexuality unless asked -- and then reluctantly. "Certainly from a political standpoint it's not going to make it easier for me to run here," he told me. "But it's just not why I'm running. There are few if any LGBT issues which can be affected by a congressman from a federal level."

Instead, Aiken is focusing on local concerns, like trying to prevent the Pentagon from moving the 440th Air Wing from Fort Bragg to Arkansas. In true challenger fashion, he argues that Ellmers has "gone Washington" and forgotten about her district. "Jesse Helms spoiled this state when it came to being attentive, and people are used to a certain level of constituent services," Aiken says. "Renee just doesn't pay attention or show up, and people see that." Where Helms' constituent-services operation once converted Democrats into "Jessecrats," Aiken is hoping he can pull a similar trick by turning Republicans into what he calls "RepublAikens."

But What the Heck Mountain looms. When Aiken embarked on his campaign, he made a promise. It was as much to himself as to the voters, and he still feels it's the key to his political success and to starting the next stage of his life. He promised not to sing.

Keeping that pledge hasn't always been easy. When he appeared on "The Colbert Report" earlier this year, he declined the host's offer to do a duet of the "The Star-Spangled Banner." (To which Colbert replied, "Headline: Clay Aiken refuses to sing national anthem.") In July, Aiken participated in a women's issues forum at a restaurant and nightclub in Pinehurst. After the event, I watched him gently turn down an invitation from the establishment's heavily tattooed assistant manager to come back and do a gig some time. "I'm not singing anymore," Aiken explained. "You gotta change the dynamic."

But on a recent afternoon, as he sat in his campaign office in a plush red chair that once graced the game room in his old house, Aiken told me he had a confession to make. He had transgressed. It happened on a Friday night a few months earlier. He was stumping for votes at a senior-citizens center that was hosting a dance party. There was a live band. As he walked in, he was mobbed by septuagenarian women. He realized that, if he didn't sing for them, he'd "look like such a jerk."

So Aiken turned to the musicians and asked them to play "Unchained Melody," the Righteous Brothers classic he'd performed to great success on "Idol." As soon as he started up with "Ohhhh my love," "It was complete pandemonium." When the song was over, he tried to slip out the door, but one of the elderly women abandoned her date and asked Aiken to dance. Soon, other women were jockeying to cut in. "There were more fights on the dance floor than there are in Iraq right now," he recalled. Eventually, Aiken managed to oblige every request, sometimes dancing with two women at a time, their male companions standing by themselves against the wall. In the parking lot afterward, Aiken considered what his broken promise had wrought. "Well, I've got the vote of every woman in there," he told a campaign aide, "and every man in there wants to burn me in effigy."

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Via CV:

Clay on the radio the radio tomorrow

WFNC 640 AM

about an hour ago

TOMORROW MORNING ON GMF- Goldy & Jim broadcast live from the new Embassy Suites Hotel on Lake Valley Dr. We will be there in conjunction with the Ft. Bragg Transition Summit and Job Fair. Lots of important military guests and Congressional candidate, Clay Aiken at 8:30. Ride to work with Goldy and Jim, 6-10am. All your local news, big national stories, WNCN meteorologist Bill Reh's weather, Right Now Traffic, Mike McKinney's Sports, entertainment news, live music and YOUR phone calls, we got it all goin' on!! News/Talk 640 WFNC and around the world on wfnc640am.com, IHeartRadio and, now, the WFNC phone app. Are you listening?

https://www.facebook.com/AM640WFNC

RIP Robin Williams. I loved so many of his movies, and his stand-up improvisations were pure genius.

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Penn Jillette tweeted!

@PennJillette_: Clay Aiken Won't Sing for Your Vote But this American Idol will do just about ... - The New Republic: Clay Aik... http://t.co/A4IONO0uPO

I could have done without the Robin Williams news today! Best tweet about this.

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merrieeee, I saw that tweet last night. Waterworks.

We're back! I woke up this morning, and couldn't get to the board. Found out later that invisionzone was totally down!

Two ClayforNC tweets:

Live on @WFNC640AM in Fayetteville right now. Tune in if you're in the area! #ncpol #nc02

I've got to go off and find this interview...

Talking to speech & debate students at Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville @ Terry Sanford High… instagram.com/p/rmb8nHKRRE/

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From Instagram, which goes with the first tweet above:

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Email from Nick

Hello, CA4NC Gold Members!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and apologies for the delay with this week's email. Things are really starting to heat up! It is time to reveal last week's raffle winner. Everyone, please join me in congratulating GENEVIEVE SCARFO of Newmarket, NH. Genevieve, you are the recipient of a personalized copy of the book "Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul".

CA4NC Gold Circle Weekly Raffle #7

This week’s raffle prize is:

A personalized copy of the AUDIO VERSION of Clay's Book, "Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life"

The next raffle winner will be announced on Monday, August 18th.

Thank you and good luck!

Nick Leisey

Clay Aiken For North Carolina

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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Senator_zps219b0873.jpg

Senator Shumate

‏@SamShumate7

Double event today: already met with Clay Aiken, then dinner and politics with NC Rep. Renee Elllmers.

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From the fundraiser from tonight:

Not sure where this one is from:

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Mark Jewell

Ok, last event, and last selfie, of the day. Clay Aiken for Congress! Standing up for ALL of Carolina.

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Ann Byrd

Enjoyed spending time with Clay Aiken tonight as he marches toward the US Congress in November! WithBarnett Berry.

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https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=102...elevant_count=8

Great event this evening supporting Clay Aiken of American Idol game for Congress in NC ' 2nd district. He gave a great speech and will support our state and our schools well. I was thrilled to co-sponsor the fundraiser for my new buddy, Clay.

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Tamika Walker Kelly added 4 new photos — with Tanya Chapman.

6 hrs · Edited ·

I had a great time representing CCAE at this Reception for Clay Aiken. Thanks to Tanya for being my plus one tonight. But more importantly, Clay stated truth tonight. People in NC have the ability to make significant changes in November. We want people who remember that their first job is to serve the people who elected them there!

clay_zpsda38f5ce.jpg

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Team Clay email

Linda,

Last Sunday, voters across the Second Congressional District and political spectrum had the chance to talk with Clay about issues affecting them. Well over 4,000 of our neighbors joined us for a telephone town hall where folks had the opportunity to ask questions and have their voices heard.

Click here to hear Clay introducing himself to the attendees.

Many great questions were asked. A voter from Sanford asked what Clay would bring to the table and how he differs from our opponent.

As Clay states, “I think one of the most important things a Congressperson can do … is advocate for and fight for and be a loud voice for what’s necessary in your district. That’s something I don’t think she’s done at all. I think she’s done what her party leaders told her to do. … You really can’t work for party leaders regardless of what party you’re in. You gotta work for the folks at home.” Click here to listen to Clay’s answer.

Make a contribution of $100, $50, or $25 to help elect a representative who will work for the folks back home.

With just over 80 days left until Election Day, we will continue reaching out to voters in every corner of the district.

Thanks for your help,

Jimmy Dahman

Field Director

Clay Aiken for North Carolina

P.S. ICYMI, click here to check out The New Republic magazine article detailing the serious and sincere race we’re running here in North Carolina

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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Post on Facebook.

Clay for North Carolina

43 mins ·

Thanks to the more than 4,000 participants who joined us for this past weekend's Telephone Town Hall. I enjoyed answering questions from voters across North Carolina’s Second Congressional District. Here are some highlights from the call if you couldn’t make it: http://www.clayaiken.com/news/clay-aiken-hosts-telephone-town-hall

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It's been a BUSY day for me at work, and I wasn't able to check anything Clay or Facebook related for the entire day. So I just came home to the audio clips!

If you go to Clay's YouTube channel (located here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKSLCfYDctYBI6_lCTbF1-g), you can listen to your heart's content.

And again, I'm off, this time to see the RiffTrax guys (from MST3K fame) riff on the 1998 sci-fi classic (heh) Godzilla. And tomorrow, I'm off to our state fair, which I haven't been to since Clay came 10 years ago. This year? My husband's favorite band, Steely Dan!

  • Like 1

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*knock knock, is this thing on?*

From Facebook:

Sig Hutchinson For Wake shared Sig Hutchinson For Wake's photo.

So glad to be supporting Clay Aiken at his event with Wake County Commission Candidates Jessica Holmes, Matt Calabria, and John Burns Wednesday night. He's such a great speaker and will make a great US Congressman — with Clay Aiken and 2 others.

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Also just read at CV that there will be a fundraiser for Clay held at the end of the month in San Francisco. One of the hosts is famed author Armistead Maupin.

http://www.armisteadmaupin.com/

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One of the McVargas girls from tonight.

@JessieMcV123: This one goes out to my girl @Conehead76 who STILL doesn't have a Selfie!!! @clayaiken #coneheadisselfieless http://t.co/6KyOrZZhVI

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I'm back!

From MagicalMusic at CV, with permission, about the fundraiser last night in New Jersey:

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Clay was supposed to be there from 7-9. He didn't arrive until 7:40 and he left an hour later. He still had enough time though to greet everyone and do selfies for all that wanted one. There were only about 45 people there which was a bit disappointing since they expected 75 to come. Clay did give a short speech, but I'm too tired to recap right now. My friend took several pics and if any are good and she'll let me share, I will.

Some random details about last night.

My friends selfie was very blurry and Clay gladly did another one with her.

My friend was taking pictures with her cell phone during Clay's speech. He stopped and looked at her and said it was the loudest clicker he had ever heard.

Most of his speech was very similar to previous things Clay has said in speeches and interviews.

He addressed and thanked the men who were dragged to this event and probably concerts in the past as well.

Clay gave a sincere thank you to us for being there for him through everything these past 11 years, even through things he couldn't have imagined.

Clay did an interview that morning for New Yorker magazine I think. I know the title had New York in it.

Will work on getting permission to post her friend's pictures...

___

The McVargas girl picture:

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So cute!

___

From Facebook:

Policymattersusa shared a link.

We look forward to seeing you at The Monday Meeting.

August 25, 2014 | 6:30PM-7:30PM

Embassy Suites | 201 Harrison Oaks Blvd | Cary, NC 27513

Cape Hatteras room (2nd flr).

Our line-up of speakers is another can't miss group:

Claude Pope

Chairman, NC Republican Party

C Edmund Wright

Best selling Author, and Contributor to The American Thinker

Clay Aiken

Democrat Candidate, US House, NC2

www.policymattersusa.com

This might be the closest thing we get to a true debate from Clay. Sounds very interesting!

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Backtracking from last n ight:

From Facebook:

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___

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Frank Genus

At a fundraiser for Clay Aiken at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank. Picture of the girls with Clay...Check. Now it's time to forage for some grub. — with Joan Haff and Kathy Genus.

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I met Clay Aiken tonight. Words can't describe how I feel #myidol #clayaiken # runningforcongress #OMG

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Pictures from the Friday night event in New Jersey, from MagicalMusic's friend pa4Clay. Thanks so much for giving permission to reprint:

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Latest Gold Circle winner:

Good morning, CA4NC Gold Members!

It is time to reveal last week's raffle winner. Everyone, please join me in congratulating KELLY ISKE of Garland, TX. Kelly, you are the recipient of a personalized copy of the audio version of Clay's book “Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life”.

CA4NC Gold Circle Weekly Raffle #8

This week’s raffle prize is:

  • Personalized CA4NC campaign palm card and 9”x9” placard

The next raffle winner will be announced on Monday, August 25th.

Thank you and good luck!

Eric Cannon

Clay Aiken For North Carolina

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Paul Long: Clay Aiken came to Harnett County today and dropped in at Kim's in Dunn for lunch. He had a good time talking to folks eating lunch and he enjoyed the BBQ and hushpuppies as well. Carlyli came out and talked to him and he told Clay how long he had been in business and how he thought a lot of Rufus Edmisten and Dennis Wicker. I told him how long I had been coming to his restaurant for political events and it was the place to be seen when running for office. Then Clay went to Tart's Produce and like myself he was amazed at the variety of canned jelly's and Jams available and all the wonderful fresh produce. People were excited to see him.

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From Facebook:

Chef Judy

You know what happens for a job well done? Repeat Business!

We'll be Catering for Clay Aiken this Thursday downtown...

I Love Catering. I would recommend us too — at Let Me Cater To You.

https://www.facebook.com/ChefJudyCage

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Paul Brandow

about an hour ago

Chilling with Clay Aiken!! Fundraiser, A Nice evening was had by all.

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bluenc.com

They Know Clay Aiken in Northern Virginia

They know Clay Aiken in northern Virginia

Submitted by Nancy Miller Martin on Mon, 08/18/2014 - 5:33pm

Just got back from a five-day trip to NoVa/DC. I was there for a big birthday party that my son-in-law was giving for my daughter. One of their friends (my daughter had already told me that he was a Democrat) started talking to me. I had met him before and knew he was one of the favorites in the neighborhood......and everybody thinks he is super smart. He asked what district I was in in North Carolina. I told him District 2, and so he asked me who was running in the district, When I told him it was Clay Aiken, he gave me a big high five. Then he announced to everyone that I was supporting Clay Aiken who was an all around super star. Then he said. "and his opponent is Renee Ellmers who told the Congress that they needed to dumb down their message so women could understand. "District 2" meant nothing, but the names meant everything. He didn't have Renee's statement exactly right, but close enough. I knew he very aware. I wanted to pass the hat, but it wasn't my house or my party. Some of the neighbors were Republicans (yes, I behaved). I have this to say to them..If he is one of the favorites in the neighborhood and the smartest...why aren't you a Democrat?

On another note, he wanted to know if Clay ever sang anymore, and I told him that he did not, but he made an exception at a retirement center. I told him the story, and then he said, "What song did he sing?" He was very impressed. Makes me know he has kinda kept up with Clay Aiken.

Well, then what happened? Brad came and he started talking to him.

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