Clay Aiken, the former “American Idol” star, congressional candidate and documentary-series figure, is back in a spotlight of sorts as a political pundit on CNN.
With a couple of recent appearances on the cable network under his belt, Raleigh native Aiken, 37, explained himself Tuesday in a Huffington Post piece titled “Why in the Hell Is Clay Aiken on CNN?”
“I know that seeing reality stars in the political arena must be jarring,” Aiken wrote. “But then again, maybe not. Donald Trump is, if nothing else, a reality star – one whose growing influence over millions of voters is a bit terrifying. I know and like Trump as a person but let me be clear: I would never vote for him.”
Making sure he’s got his social-media bases covered, Aiken also tweeted: “Advocate for equal opportunity for EVERYONE, moderate/progressive, father, and Southerner... and, yeah, I sing some too! -America’s #1 Number Two-North Carolina & New York City.”
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Aiken was an “Idol” runner-up in 2003. He won a Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District but failed to outpoll U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in the general election in 2014, then starred in “The Runner-Up,” a documentary about the race.
Referring to himself as “the gay guy from ‘American Idol,’” Aiken said in the Huffington Post piece that he’s back in the media-politics game to represent outsiders like himself.
“This is a real and important conversation, and one I’ve tried to be a part of for the last two years,” Aiken wrote. “So if you see me on CNN, rest assured I’m not there to sing. I’m there to use my unexpected voice in a different way, to speak for the outsiders.”