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

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Darcy Hollenbeck

8 hrs ·

This is my ‪#‎selfie‬ with ‪#‎ClayAiken‬

playbill.com

"American Idol" Alum Clay Aiken Trades the Broadway Stage for the Political Stage

"American Idol" Alum Clay Aiken Trades the Broadway Stage for the Political Stage

By Robert Simonson

14 Oct 2014 aik200.jpgclear.gif Clay Aiken Photo by Monica Simoes

On a recent weeknight, at a well-appointed townhouse on the Upper West Side, a political fund-raiser was held. There was a spread of food, a well-stocked open bar and — as if often the case at these small, well-heeled gatherings — entertainment.

Milling about among the guests were the stage performers Betty Buckley, Christine Ebersole, Beth Leavel and Clay Aiken. The first three sang. Aiken did not. The other three sang for him. For it was his fundraiser.

Aiken, still best known to the public for his second-place finish in the second season of “American Idol,” is running for Congress. He is the Democrats’ candidate in the Second District of his home state of North Carolina.

Those who may have chuckled a few months ago when Aiken announced his candidacy are laughing no longer. He won the Democratic primary May 6 and is considered to have more than a fighting chance to topple the Republican incumbent, Renee Ellmers, Nov. 4. The two candidates participated in a debate Oct. 6.

“I think a lot of people have been surprised with the success we’ve had,” he commented. “But I haven’t been as surprised. I don’t get into something that I don’t think I have an ability to be successful at.”

Aiken — who was born in Raleigh, which is part of the 2nd District, and, apart for a few years shortly after “Idol” and a tour with Monty Python's Spamalot, has lived there much of the last ten years — said the decision to run for office was “a slow burn.”

“It was an opportunity that presented itself slowly over several years. But at the end of the day, it was the effect of seeing various things that had been happening to my state; some of the things with gerrymandering, redistricting some of these seats where some people not only didn’t have to be help accountable, but didn’t have to do their jobs, because they felt they were in a position where they didn’t have to do what they were elected to do. I recognized I had the opportunity to get people to pay attention and hold people accountable.”

bett.jpg clear.gif Betty Buckley performs at the fundraiser Photo by Monica Simoes

In recent years, North Carolina, traditionally a moderate state as far southern states go, has taken a decided swing to the right. In 2010 the Republicans won a majority of both houses of the state legislature for the first time since 1898. A subsequent redistricting plan redrew political lines to favor Republicans. In 2012 the state elected its first Republican governor, Pat McCrory, and lieutenant governor in more than two decades. Soon after, McCrory appointed as his budget director James “Art” Pope, a conservative multi-millionaire and activist who has spent much of his wealth in support of Republican candidates and conservative causes.

Despite the political climate, Aiken still believes he has a chance to be sent to Washington.

“Most people in the country are moderates,” he said. “They’re somewhere in the middle of the field. Unfortunately, in more recent years, the people who tend to vote and get active in primaries tend to live on the fringes. And so you get politicians who live on the fringes.”

Aiken described the Second District as “very independent-minded districts. We’ve got a lot of disparity.” He mentioned Cary, a suburb of Raleigh where many young people with high tech jobs live; Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the U.S.; and various rural and farming areas.

“What they have in common there is they don’t necessarily vote for parties, they vote for people,” he continued. “They’ve voted for Republicans in the past, they’ve voted for Democrats in the past. They have an independent streak in them.”

That Aiken was in New York gathering support for his run makes sense to anyone who knows his career. In 2008, he joined the Broadway cast of Spamalot. The New York theatre community never quite forgot him.

ebers.jpg clear.gif Christine Ebersole Photo by Monica Simoes

“I think it’s important to have support of people I care about and I’ve had a relationship with,” said Aiken. “The Broadway community is renowned for being very tight-knit and supportive of one another.”

Asked if his experience as an actor and singer has aided him in any way on the campaign trail, Aiken quipped, “I think a lot of politicians are certainly performers.” He allowed, however, that his stage experiences had allowed him to speak publicly with ease. “I have been involved with press situations for years, yes,” he added.

Despite his singing background, Aiken, perhaps surprisingly, does not have an official campaign song. However, he said, "We do play The Four Tops ‘Walk Away, Renee’ around the office a lot.”

Watch Aiken discuss his campaign below.

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@ClayForNC: Clay will be on @theShowgram on @G105radio this morning at 8:15am. Tune in! #ncpol #nc02

@ForwardAmerican: Cary & Western Wake part of #nc02: Join us at the Matthews House in Cary on Tues 10/14 at 5pm to kickoff the @ClayForNC district bus tour!

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@ClayForNC: Clay will be on @theShowgram on @G105radio this morning at 8:15am. Tune in! #ncpol #nc02

@ForwardAmerican: Cary & Western Wake part of #nc02: Join us at the Matthews House in Cary on Tues 10/14 at 5pm to kickoff the @ClayForNC district bus tour!

@ClayForNC: Clay will be on @theShowgram on @G105radio this morning at 8:15am. Tune in! #ncpol #nc02

@ForwardAmerican: Cary & Western Wake part of #nc02: Join us at the Matthews House in Cary on Tues 10/14 at 5pm to kickoff the @ClayForNC district bus tour!

@JenScott418: @ClayForNC on @theShowgram ? he just keeps on proving himself. @clayaiken

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I didn't get a chance to listen, but from what I'm reading, the interviewer was a real a**wipe (asking personal questions, stating that Renee was "hot"). But, I'm also reading that Clay totally held his own, and in fact seemed to be enjoying this interview.

Clay continues to have balls of steel, baby. He's not afraid of ANYTHING that is set in front of him, especially when he's passionate about something. I also think he agreed to this interview because this is exactly the audience he needs to reach -- those that can see he truly isn't afraid to face the fire like this and might, just might, change their minds.

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http://www.g105.com/media/podcast-bob-and-the-showgram-showgram/

Clay's section is mostly part 6.

I'm listening to this, and I'm thinking -- Clay's enjoying this back and forth. In some ways, I think this radio thing is a better true debate than the actual debate from last week.

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Clay_and_Bob_zps1db2da5d.jpg

Can You Believe It

Bob enjoyed Clay's visit today!!! I was proud of both of them.... Clay was strong and came in regardless of Bob's opinions and BOB... was respectful!

Whoohoooo!!! No meeting today!

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I would love to be here tonight!

@ClayForNC: Bus tour kicks off tonight! Join us at 5pm at The Matthews House in Cary for a rally before the bus heads to the @SanfordHerald forum! #nc02

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From CH

Love this!

Holy Shit. Clay called me. I saw the NC location on my iPhone and decided to answer. He said - "Hi - Its Clay Aiken" and I said - yes I recognize your voice. I outted myself as a fan who had seen him in Spam and Ogunquit "and many more". Felt obligated to out myself - don't know why.

I told him I had been following his race and asked some questions about how it was going. He asked if I had watched the debate and I said no that I couldn't stomach it - that I had read some recaps on the boards but couldn't do it and that she was so condescending to him. He agreed and said it had backfired on her - that new polling showed 65% that he had won. I told him I was glad to hear that - that I was wondering if there had been any blowback about it.

He said he needed to stay on the air down there and needed help and of course I said I would donate - that things have been tight with just buying a house but I could help.

Oh lord. This grin is killing me.

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The Erica De Long tweet links to the same picture from this morning's radio show, that I posted earlier...

OK, we're at page 79 of this thread. We usually go to page 80 and then change -- but I wonder if we should wait until after the election.

Anyway, here are the nominees so far:

  • The best 2 minutes of my life.
  • Clay Aiken is cool
  • Every day is Clay Aiken Day!
  • Everywhere he goes, the people love him.
  • He's so handsome, because he's so smart...

We actually have several here that could work, winning the election or not. Speak forth, oh mighty few from FCA! Which title do you like?

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I go for change the thread at 80. Keep it consistent!

As for the title: Everywhere he goes people love him!

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Anyone else on the thread changing thing? I like merrieee's suggestions!

geekette from the CH is also a friend of mine on Facebook. She went to the bus tour kickoff this afternoon! And she got a selfie!

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10659421_10203319395009245_5067094714910942509_n_zps93aba205.jpg

Some of the other pictures, from the links from merrieeee:

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2014-10-14_1908_zps878a7ba1.png

Bz8EnZbIIAIe_GZ_zpsa58daed0.jpg

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clay_zps3368a11e.jpg

mindy lynn @MlbMohala

Whoohoo!! "@ForwardAmerican: The @ClayForNC #nc02 district tour just kicked off from Cary & on his way to Sanford,! pic.twitter.com/draZPU0VyP"

I am LOVING this bus tour idea. I'm thrilled for him, and I think this idea is genius!

I read at CV that Fear has made it through her surgery -- they are now looking at the best mix for her pain meds!

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Forward Americans @ForwardAmerican

Supporters hearing from @clayaiken @ClayForNC at the #nc02 district bus tour kick off!Spent time w/ each one chatting

clay_zps0873fadf.jpg

Forward Americans @ForwardAmerican

Does this not melt your heart friends? @clayaiken asked if he was helping make calls for the @ClayForNC campaign;) pic.twitter.com/rxSBVQeL0e

More from geekette, including a really good pic of the bus!

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The Sanford Herald is live tweeting the candidate forum.

Rep. Renee Ellmers ® and challenger Clay Aiken (D) prepare to make opening remarks. #sanfordheraldforum
Candidates address American perception of congressional ineffectiveness. Ellmers cites bipartisan bickering, Harry Reid. #sanfordheraldforum

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Aiken: not much done in congress but blaming other side. We need to stop with blame. Both parties can work together. #sanfordheraldforum
Aiken says US took too long to respond to ISIS, calls US to be proactive, not reactive to threats. #sanfordheraldforum
Ellmers: Obama was informed of ISIS threat, did not react appropriately. We need boots on the ground. #sanfordheraldforum
Ellmers decries Obama's "international apology tour" after taking office. Says we need strong leadership. #sanfordheraldforum
Aiken advocates rail service, broadband accessibility as keys to new business and economic growth. #sanfordheraldforum
Aiken, Ellmers both criticize Affordable Care Act. Aiken says change employer mandate. Ellmers: throw whole thing out. #sanfordheraldforum
Ellmers, Aiken go back and forth with rebuttals on how best to approach reform/repeal of Affordable Care Act. #sanfordheraldforum
Candidates address same-sex marriage ruling. Both unsurprised by ruling. Both say conversation on issue is not over. #sanfordheraldforum
Aiken is against ground troops against ISIS. Says Middle Eastern countries should commit ground troops. #sanfordheraldforum
Ellmers and Aiken both stress being overly cautious in dealing with Ebola. Support travel restrictions, etc. #sanfordheraldforum

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Christopher Moore ‏@cmoorenyc

Just read the November @Esquiremag and it's impressive. Thoughtful political stuff especially. Compelling @clayaiken profile. Lively issue

FYI, I have the text of the article. PM me if interested....

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All I have to say is thank you and omg! A wonderful article and it brought tears to my eyes!

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Convo from yesterday

@jcrawford1324: Think I'm losing my mind. Was listening to G105 this AM, Clay Akin was on and I found myself agreeing with some of the things he said.

@jcrawford1324: @ClayForNC @clayaiken @theShowgram @G105radio i'll admit it, I was surprised that I really liked what I heard. You've got my support Clay.

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