Clay Aiken visited Fort Bragg on Wednesday!
The following article was posted about the visit!
fayobserver.com – N.C. congressional candidate Clay Aiken stops in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg
Clay Aiken isn’t naive. As a political newcomer, the 35-year-old realizes he’s known principally as an “American Idol” runner-up. Most candidates don’t have people interrupting them every few minutes to ask for a picture or a hug.
But Aiken uses that unusual level of name recognition – something many first-time candidates would kill for – to get people to listen to his ideas as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the state’s Second Congressional District. The seat is currently occupied by Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, who is seeking re-election.
“I’d rather be in a position of name recognition and need to change it, than having none,” he said. “One problem that any first-time candidate has is getting people to listen.”
Aiken was in Fayetteville today, touring Fort Bragg before meeting a small group of military spouses at the Marquis Market on Person Street downtown. Dressed in a grey suit and open-necked shirt, he was laidback and easygoing.
The hour-long chat with spouses focused mostly on the efforts of military families to navigate their way through the health care system and to find work.
Aiken, whose brother completed two tours in Iraq with the Marines, asked questions, listened and pledged to be accessible if he’s elected.
“I would like to get an idea of the needs,” he said as he sat down at a row of tables pulled together.
In the May primary, Aiken faces Keith Crisco, a former state secretary of commerce, and Toni Morris, a counselor from Fayetteville. Aiken said he was moved to run by the redrawing of districts – “I won’t use the g-word,” he said – that has been challenged in court for, among other things, packing Democratic voters into as few districts as possible and making more districts GOP-friendly.
Aiken said he was also spurred by what he called Ellmers’ “tone-deaf” response to the federal sequestration budget cuts in 2013.
Redistricting created an especially disparate Second District, a three-pointed star that juts into nine counties including Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee and Moore.
Aiken lives in Cary and has been touring the district’s various communities – suburban Wake County, retiree-rich Moore County, Cumberland’s military population and the rural areas that surround them.
“The things I don’t know about, I want to learn about,” he said.
One thing Aiken said he’s learned is the need for civilian professional licensing organizations to recognize military training and qualifications, to make it easier for veterans to get jobs for which they’re already qualified.
Aiken said instructors at Sandhills Community College told him they had taught veterans who knew more than they did, but who had to take courses anyway.
As Aiken readied to leave Marquis Market, he was interrupted more than once by fans and well-wishers.
“I used to watch you every night on ‘American Idol,'” one woman said.
With a primary and, he hopes, a general election to come, Aiken didn’t miss a beat as the woman walked away.
“You have two more chances to vote,” he called out to her.
Staff writer Gregory Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3596.
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The beautiful pictures are from Staff Photographer – Johnny Horne
Do you think we should ask him to take pictures at other events too?
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