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MAY
20
4 MOS

Candidate Clay Aiken Takes the Political High Road on 'Today Show'

"You've got to get people to see me in a different light," the "American Idol" alum told Savannah Guthrie on "The Today Show."

Clay Aiken PR 2012 P
Curtis Brown

Political candidate Clay Aiken is hitting the campaign trail, but he is not going to rest on his celebrity laurels in the race for North Carolina's second congressional district.

The American Idol alum said his biggest challenge is to get voters to see him in "a different light."

"It's a blessing in the fact that it gets me in a room," he said. "But I have to overcome that people see me in one way and not the other."

After a brief hiatus from campaigning due to the death of of his political opponent Keith Crisco, Aiken opened up about the pressures of running for political office with a focus on the issues in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on The Today Show.

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When asked his reaction to Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers' assertions that Aiken is running for office due to a stalled music career and boredom, the candidate said it is a "challenge" he has to "overcome."

"It's a mountain to climb, but we've had quite a bit of success thus far in the past three months in climbing it," he said. 

When asked if he was concerned about running in a primarily Republican district, Aiken was upbeat. 

"This district is about a third independent. And so it has swayed conservatively in the past. But also, more historically, even more further back in the past, it's gone to a Democrat," he said. "People are tired of partisan politics. You've got everyone who votes because people in the media talk about R and D. But people at home, they don't talk about party. They talk about the things that are important to them."

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Aiken, who is openly gay,  said that he will not be "downplaying" the issue of gay marriage, but wants to focus on a variety of topics. What he does want to talk about, he said, are issues that "are affecting people's lives," and his personal life isn't "necessarily one of them."

"I don't know that we're necessarily particularly specifically down playing anything. We're up playing the things that are affecting people's lives," he said. "The fact that students are coming out of college with average of $29,000 worth of debt. The fact that the unemployment rate is not lowering, is not going down as fast as it could be. Veterans affairs. Education in general."

When asked which is more difficult -- Idol or politics -- Aiken's answer was succinct.

"Politics," he said.

Twitter: @Idol_Worship, @MicheleAmabile