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Clay Aiken Discusses Interviewing Trump Supporters for 'The View'




Clay Aiken Discusses Interviewing Trump Supporters for 'The View'

Curtis Scott Brown
Clay Aiken

While competing on NBC's The Apprentice, American Idol season two runner up  Clay Aiken had a front row seat observing then-host and future Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump in action. 

In 2014, Aiken threw his hat into the political arena, running for a Congressional seat in North Carolina -- a run covered in his own docu-series, The Runner Up, on the Esquire NetworkWith his former "employer" now running for the highest office, Aiken naturally has his own views on the election, and this Monday he will appear on The View in a segment where the North Carolina Democrat crosses political lines covering a Trump a rally in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

Aiken served as a man-on-the-street reporter for the ABC show before, covering the riots in Charlotte and the transgender bathroom battle in North Carolina. However, this will be the first time Aiken will cover a Presidential election, interviewing regular people for a segment that will air on the Oct. 17 episode of the show. He will also be live in the studio to chat with Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Candace Cameron Bure, Paula Faris, Raven-Symoné and Sara Haines about what he learned, as he stood in the same arena where he and Idol winner Kelly Clarksononce performed together on their 2004 co-headlining tour.

“I played the same arena he was in when I toured with Kelly. They were playing video before he came out, and they had announcements and people cheering and chanting. I remember how fun it is to have that many people cheering for you, and have an arena full of noise shouting for you,” Aiken tells Billboard. “That’s all this is for him. He just loves having throngs of people. He actually said that night, 'We broke all records for attendance at this arena,' and while he was saying it, right above his head was a second tier full of empty seats.”

Aiken says his segment will be a “thoughtful piece,” and he anticipates a lively discussion with the panel, exploring the reasons why Trump is resonating with voters.

“I mean, we have to at least try to understand why they feel the way they do, and stop assuming they’re all just racist demons,” he continued. “And they, by the way, need to start trying to understand why people who are liberal or who are Democrat feel the way they do, and stop trying to assume automatically that because we like Obama we’re communists.”

Read on for more of Aiken’s thoughts.

So, you filmed a segment for The View. Tell us about the feedback you are getting from Trump supporters.

The goal was to try and understand why people like Trump without pushing back -- without debating, without arguing, but genuinely trying to get them to explain what it is about him that they gravitate towards, and why they are so adamantly in support of him, why so many of them knew they loved him and wanted to vote for him on day one, without having heard him campaign in any way. And I didn’t argue with them or even question any of their views. I didn’t push back; it was simply a chance to get people’s opinions.

Having gone through the political process yourself, you were well suited to wade into those waters.

I think it’s so much easier to go and ask people questions, and not have to question their opinion. Just to try and be respectful of what they want to say and feel and believe. I was worried that I would not get people to talk to me, because a lot of people have the impression that a lot of these folks are horrible, mad, mean, angry, racist, xenophobes,  and they hate the media and they yell at the press, and they don’t trust anybody and they’re just angry.

And I thought "Well hell, I’m a gay man who I think many people recognize as a liberal, and I’m going with a producer who’s a Muslim -- we are not going to be so welcomed here." But the supporters were nothing but gracious and friendly and open to talk. I very rarely encountered someone who was angry, very rarely encountered someone whose motivation for voting for him had anything to do with race, or even immigration. A few people want the wall built and want immigration to be curbed -- so to speak -- but I never got the sense that they were doing it for racist reasons. A lot of them are just very afraid for their jobs.

What did you say to them?

I asked them to tell me why they supported Donald Trump, and to describe him in one word. And at risk of giving away too much for what we’re talking about on Monday, I won’t say what it was, but there was one word that came up I’d say about 60 percent of the time.

And hearing that, and hearing the stories from people about why they like him, why they’re supporting him, why they don’t care that he said what he said to Billy Bush, why that doesn’t affect them, why that doesn’t have any impact on why they’re voting for him and won’t change their position... I have a newfound understanding of where a lot of these people who support Trump are coming from. And while I certainly don’t agree with them, and certainly will not vote for him, and am hopeful that he will not become President, I don’t think that it’s appropriate to demonize the people who like him.

Did any of them talk about the label of “deplorables?”

They wear it as a badge of honor. They have posters, they have stickers now that say, “I’m one of the deplorables.” It was a mistake, it was an error, for Hillary Clinton to have said that -- I think she admitted that she shouldn’t have said that -- but they wear it as a badge of honor. They recognize that. They’re proud of this and they talk about it with pride.

Trump did used to be a registered Democrat.

If you take a look at his registration history, he always tends to change his registration to be the opposite party of the sitting president -- as if he’s always thought about running for president, and he knew he needed to switch his party to be in opposition. He switched right after Clinton became president. He left the Democratic party, went to the Republicans for a second, then he went to the Reform party because they were going to have him run. When Bush went into office and the war started, he switched to being a Democrat again, until Obama became president -- then he switched to being a Republican again.

I would argue that there are certain things about Trump that may actually push Democratic policies further than any Democrat ever could. Donald Trump is for getting money out of politics. That’s not something Republicans have typically gone for. Donald Trump says is he anti-free trade, and that is not a Republican position. But there’s research that shows that Republican voters have shifted to anti-free trade at a more rapid clip in the last year than ever in history, and it’s probably because Donald Trump has told them that -- he is their spokesperson, he’s become their champion. They believe that he’s conservative, but he has a lot of these liberal positions that they never would have listened to if Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton had said them.

He’s all about infrastructure, or he says he’s all about infrastructure. He says he wants to build these great roads and these great bridges and these great airports and trains. That is an incredibly democratic position. When Hillary Clinton becomes president -- and I believe she will - -if she goes out and tries to get a stimulus package passed that builds better roads and bridges, Republicans and those voters will be so against it. But when Donald Trump is saying it -- because he’s got that R behind his name -- they’ll listen to it.

Last summer when we talked, you saw this coming. You said not to "discount" him.

The reason The Apprentice was successful was because Mark Burnett knew how to produce a show, but also because Trump knows how to give the people what they want.  He definitely wants the people cheering for him, and I figured he would probably do everything he could to pander and say the things people wanted, and just try to rile people up. I’ll tell you what, I sat in this arena Monday night, and realized this entire campaign is a vanity project.

Did you see the video from The Apprentice where he fired [WWE personality Maria Kanellis] for “locker room talk"?

I try to be fair that -- I sound like I’m defending him in some way and I really don’t want to -- but he was trying to entertain, and the truth is I don’t think he has full-reign on deciding who gets fired himself. A lot of it has to do with what NBC wants, and what the ratings are saying and who’s got a high Q score and who’s doing better for the show. Sometimes he just has to find a reason to fire somebody because the network says that they want so-and-so to go, and he’s got to figure out why to be able to fire them.

So maybe that was one of those situations where he had to fire somebody, and he had to figure out how to do it, and that was the [way]. Does that necessarily excuse it? No.

Moving past the election, it is easy to see him launching his own network.

Well, [Michael] Bloomberg had his own media empire while he ran for Mayor, so you can do both.

This whole election is like a reality show right now.

And reality shows, as you know, are not always exactly reality. There are false-scripted moments to give you drama. If you did a reality show of my life, as it normally is, it’d be boring as hell. So they put people in situations, they manufacture this drama; Trump knows how to do that. I know how to give a sound bite, when I give an interview I know how to say something that will probably get pulled out. Trump knows how to do it 10 times better than I do. Most people try to avoid it, but he knows, “If I say something controversial, I’ll stay in the news.” It’s what he said now, “The shackles are off." Well hell, that’s ridiculous. The shackles have been off you since day one.

So what’s next for you? Any more politics? What do you have on tap?

I don’t really know. I kind of took the year off after I ran to sort of explore, and dip my toe into different waters, and see what it was I wanted to do. I knew that going back to singing was probably not going to be as easy as it was before, simply because I got that D behind my name now, and I lost people because they can’t support me now, because I’m a Democrat.

I found that I have a great interest in doing these types of thoughtful pieces. I don’t think at this point that people see me in that role, so it’s not like all of a sudden I’m going to be a political reporter or anything -- nor do I think I want to be a political reporter -- but I don’t think I’m going to be a reporter or a journalist in the typical way. But I’m enjoying this, so I’m going to continue doing it here and there. I don’t necessarily have an end goal in mind.

The View airs 11 a.m. EST on ABC.



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Clay Aiken Went to a Donald Trump Rally



Clay Aiken Went to a Donald Trump Rally

ByJustin Adam Brown

Posted on October 18, 2016


Millions of people have watched, liked and shared videos documenting Jordan Klepper visiting Donald Trump rallies. Klepper is a correspondent for “The Daily Show” who has advantageously built a reputation of playing off the stereotype that projects Trump supports to be uneducated, prejudice and non-inclusive to the freedoms of the free world.


While Klepper’s videos are absolutely hilarious, but unsettling at the same time, they don’t really deliver any logic explaining why millions of Americans are die-hard Trump supporters. Leave it to Clay Aiken to put his investigative skills to the test. He visited a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Oct. 10 for a segment on “The View.” That’s right, “The View” sent Clay Aiken to find out why people love Trump.

This year just keeps getting more weird, right?

Aiken, who admits he’s voting for Hillary Clinton come Nov. 8, said he was originally nervous to attend a Trump rally and questioned the behavior of the GOP nominee’s supporters. To his surprise, he told “The View” co-hosts supporters were “very friendly” and gracious.

Trump are “very afraid” of losing their jobs, Aiken said. “Donald Trump has made them believe he is not afraid,” he said.

Perhaps a leader who comes across fearless makes some voters feel safe in a country where violence, terrorism and and debt can have one feeling helpless.

Watch the entire video here:



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‘American Idol’ alum Eyes Downtown NYC Condo

‘American Idol’ alum eyes downtown NYC condo


“American Idol” alum Clay Aiken, the singer-songwriter turned political activist who ran for Congress in North Carolina two years ago, has been spotted house-hunting downtown in the Financial District.

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Clay Aiken.Photo: AP

One of the homes he toured was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom loft condo at 67 Liberty St. that’s listed for $2.19 million.

The unit, with a keyed elevator entrance, opens to a south-facing living room with an oversize arched window. There’s also wide oak flooring throughout, lots of storage in the chef’s kitchen, a laundry room and spalike bathrooms — the latter of which have stone walls, rain showers and deep soaking tubs.

The building has a common roof deck.

The listing brokers are Town Residential’s Jared Barnett and Augusto Bittencourt.

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Now It's Our Turn to Protect Jerome

Now It's Our Turn To Protect Jerome (Jerome Bell)omplete SECONDSThe Story
From almost the moment I walked off of the stage at the end of American Idol Jerome Bell has stood beside me. In fact, throughout the years I've had Jerome next to me so much that countless people have assumed I am a lot shorter than I am. His 6'7" frame towering over me, never far away, made me look small by comparison. Jerome been a constant for me in an industry where friends can be fleeting and work friends can be fleeting. For almost 14 years now he has not only protected me; he's been a father figure in a way that no one else ever was. 
On Monday, November 21 a lot changed... in a very quick moment. 
While working an event in Atlanta, Jerome was struck by a malfunctioning forklift. The injuries that resulted have been devastating. In addition to shattered pelvis and multiple breaks in his right leg, doctors were forced to amputate his left leg from mid-thigh. He also sustained traumatic injuries to internal organs. For Thanksgiving this year, Jerome and his family (along with myself and countless other friends of his) were most thankful that he had survived. 
After almost a half dozen surgeries in the span of just one week, Jerome's health is beginning to stabilize. He is awake and talking with family and friends. As is his nature, he's remaining positive and focusing not on himself but on reassuring those around him who are worried about him. 
Unfortunately, there are still many procedures and hospital days come. Doctors anticipate Jerome will remain in the ICU for perhaps a month longer. Beyond January, Jerome will likely be in a rehabilitation facility for an extended period -- perhaps not returning home until Summer 2017.
It's certainly difficult to process such a tragedy, and it's a jarring reminder of how quickly our lives can change. 
Throughout the past week, the outpouring of support and prayers for Jerome and his family have been immeasurable. Many have reached out to me or to his family in hopes of providing comfort and support. 
Here's how we can do it. 
The costs for such a life altering situation aren't easy to estimate at all. Notwithstanding medical expenses, which no insurance will cover entirely, the costs to modify his home and transportation to make them wheelchair accessible promise to be exorbitant. The expense of rehabilitation alone will be too high to calculate, and Jerome will need one-to-one care for a substantial period even after returning home. Add to that the lost wages and the effects of inability to work that won't possibly be recovered fully through disability.

True, we may not be able to help Jerome and his family cover all of the mounting expenses that they are about to encounter, but Jerome's survival from this awful accident is proof to me that God works miracles. And He can work one again. 

Jerome has spent years of his life in the business of protecting others. He's dedicated himself to putting others' needs above his own. 
It hasn't just been his job; it's been his nature. 

We now have a chance to do a little bit to help protect him.

Please give what you're able. Every bit will help.

- Clay Aiken

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Clay Aiken in His Only Christmas Performance at Chandler Center for the Arts, December 16


Clay Aiken in His Only Christmas Performance at Chandler Center for the Arts, December 16

Created Monday, December 05, 2016

Clay Aiken in His Only Christmas Performance at Chandler Center for the Arts, December 16

Clay Aiken has sold six million albums and sold-out 11 nationwide concert tours. His introspective 2004 memoir, “Learning To Sing: Hearing The Music in Your Life” was a “New York Times” best seller, and his run on Broadway in Monty Python's Spamalot” was a critical, fan and box office success. Chandler Center for the Arts is now bringing Aiken to the Valley for his one and only Christmas performance on December 16! Christmas with Clay Aiken also marks the first time that the artist has sung in a public performance in three years. Chandler.com landed Mr. Aiken’s first Valley interview and was excited to finally catch up with the charismatic and seasoned performer.



Christmas with Clay Aiken

Aiken’s Christmas performance at Chandler Center for the Arts is a special one, as he’ll be performing with a 22-piece orchestra. He’s been to Arizona on tour before and is looking forward to returning to the Valley. Aiken says, “I’ve toured through Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale… several times in the past. You know, it’s always very interesting to me being an East Coaster-er to do any type of show in Phoenix around Christmas because… You might as well be the Southern Hemisphere when it comes to the holidays in the sun. It’s very interesting. Somehow… there’s still that holiday vibe, spirit, even still. It’s nice to have a little change of pace whenever I’m doing the holiday stuff.” He adds with a laugh, “I think it’s been 105 degrees at times, so if that doesn’t burn itself into your memory. Literally!”

Playing with a live orchestra is a bit different than other types of performances. “It’s a change when you do an orchestra show versus a typical band show simply because you get new musicians every single day. I will come in on that Friday with my music director, my drummer and my core group, and we’ll have to run the entire show on Friday in the afternoon because it will be the first time these musicians have played it, and the first time that I’ve done it with them. That’s always a certain challenge,” Aiken explains. “This year, specifically, I have not done a concert or sung publicly since 2013. This is the first time that I’ve done anything like this in over three years. So, it’s been a challenge in general just to try to get all my stuff together and to create a show for this one-off thing in Phoenix. Phoenix is the only city that’s getting this… This year and maybe next, who knows?” He adds with a little laugh, “So, we’ll have to see if I can still sing. There’s no telling; there’s no guarantee!” Aiken’s sweet sense of humor and willingness to poke fun at himself is adorable.

In his show at Chandler Center for the Arts, Aiken will perform most of the Christmas songs from his holiday album, “Merry Christmas with Love” and his 2006 Christmas EP, “All is Well.” “I did five Christmas tours over the years, maybe more than that. It’s a lot of the songs, that if people had been to those shows, they’ve heard.” There will be some new songs, too. He continues, “We’re going to throw in a few new ones this year, assuming I have the brain capacity to learn them… which also, is no guarantee.”

“Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel is a song that I put on EP in ‘06 and even though it’s a stayed Christmas hymn from the hymn book, it is a different arrangement that we do with it and it’s easily my favorite to sing every holiday. So, that one will certainly make the set list,” Aiken states.

Holiday Traditions

When it comes to Christmas traditions, Aiken points out that growing up, his experiences were probably similar to everyone else’s, but he did have a favorite event each year. “I don’t know that we did anything horribly exciting and original,” he says. “I think if I chose a memory – There’s a city not too far from Raleigh where I live and grew up, and a whole field – 100 acres get decorated in insane amounts of lights. There are lines of cars for miles that line up to drive through this light display. We always used to do that as a family on Christmas Eve, typically.”

“Usually Christmas holidays are incredibly busy. All holidays are,” Aiken states. “It ends up being so much work to get to all the different families. I guess it certainly gives you a nice warm feeling to be able to see everyone, but you’re exhausted by the end of the day on the 25th.”

Aiken continues, “We still do the light thing. We still drive down to the meadow and see the light display. My son has gotten excited about doing it every year. So, we kind of keep that same tradition alive and make it part of his memory, too.”



A Voice that Has Gained a Powerful Voice

Aiken’s life has changed considerably since his days on “American Idol” back in 2003. A stint on Broadway, a run for Congress in North Carolina, an admirable season on “The Celebrity Apprentice” and the birth of a son have all happened since the early days of his career. However, Aiken remains as grounded and lovable as the young man we first met in the second season of the singing competition who has ultimately become an American treasure.

Aiken has always been philanthropically geared. Once he was thrust into the public spotlight more than a decade ago, the singer, in his humble and charming demeanor, took the opportunity to share that attention with the causes that he supports the most.

A big part of Aiken’s philanthropy is focused through his own charitable nonprofit that he founded with Diane Bubel; the National Inclusion Project. “We’re headed into our 14th year of that,” Aiken acknowledges. “We have been expanding a lot of our programs around the country to make sure that summer camps and after-school programs, etcetera, are accessible to children with disabilities. We’re starting a new initiative – an accreditation program where people who have run our programs and have been successful at including kids with disabilities are able to let their communities, families with of children with and without disabilities know that they have made a commitment to making sure that kids are included in those programs and get an accreditation.” It is a long term goal, and the organization is working closely with educators and thought leaders to make the endeavor a reality. Aiken also heavily supports the missions of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), Common Cause and Unicef.

Tickets for Christmas with Clay Aiken are on sale now. Chandler Center for the Arts is located at 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler. Visit www.chandlercenter.org for additional information or call (480) 782-2680.

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The First at Coming in Second: The holidays and politics with Clay Aiken

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Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard reunite to perform a Christmas classic on The View

Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard reunite to perform a Christmas classic on The View

More than 13 years after competing on American Idol, season 2 finalists Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard reunited on The View Thursday — all in the name of Christmas joy!

Performing “This Christmas,” the Idol alums gave their first TV duo performance since their days on the reality competition series in 2003. They even had matching red sweaters to add to the holiday cheer!

Studdard won the coveted first place recording contract prize on the second season of the Fox series, with Aiken coming in second. Despite the long break between televised performances, the pair toured together in 2010 and shared that their tight-knit friendship has been going strong since they met. “He was one of the first people I actually met during Hollywood week and we’ve been friends ever since,” Studdard said.

“We FaceTime once every week or so still,” added Aiken.

Since his time on the show, Studdard released seven albums, toured for eight years with David Foster, and is currently producing a children’s program called Uncle Ruben’s House. Aiken also released seven studio albums since his Idol days, as well as performed on Broadway in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Aiken once again earned the runner-up status during the fifth season of The Celebrity Apprentice when the crown went to Arsenio Hall.

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