Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Behind the Ad: American Idol's Clay Aiken takes a run at politics

By Richard K. Barry

Who: The Clay Aiken campaign 

Where: North Carolina 2nd Congressional District

What's going on: Former "American Idol" star Clay Aiken (D) is running for a seat in the House of Representatives in North Carolina. But before you dismiss this as some kind of a stunt, as I was inclined to do, consider the analysis by the well-respected Cook Political Report. They write this about an interview they conducted with the candidate (which is behind a paywall, so I won't bother linking to it):
Aiken was not only polished and poised, but relaxed, free-wheeling, persuasive, and politically realistic. He spoke passionately and fluently on a range of issues, from trade promotion authority to No Child Left Behind to continuous coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. In fact, he was better-versed and more in-depth than plenty of state legislators we have met. And, he was just as comfortable discussing the voting intricacies of the 2nd CD's counties as he was recalling his route to Idol success.

Aiken is running against a Republican incumbent, Rep. Renee Ellmers, who will be very hard to beat, especially in a midterm.  But, and I wouldn't be the first to point this out, running a credible congressional campaign, even a losing one, could well help launch a long political career.

The Aiken ad focuses on his difficult upbringing as well as his more recent philanthropic work.

I should note that Aiken must first secure the Democratic nomination, which is at this point a competitive three-way race with the first round in a couple of weeks. If no candidate gets 40 percent, there will be a run-off in June.

Grade: It is an interesting thing when a "celebrity" runs for office, whether from the left or right. For some reason they have to go a bit farther than others to explain why they would do such a thing. It is as if to say, I'm not simply trying to keep the cameras rolling by other means. That's what this ad is. And on that, it does what it's supposed to do. C


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