Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 27, 2014

Clay Aiken Slammed in TV Ad

Clay Aiken Slammed in TV Ad

Aiken is running for Congress. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images File Photo)

The top primary opponent to Clay Aiken in North Carolina is slamming the “American Idol” runner-up’s public service record in a TV ad launched two weeks before they face off for the Democratic nomination.

Keith Crisco, a former North Carolina Commerce secretary, hits his opponent in the ad for skipping meetings for a commission Aiken was appointed to by then-President George W. Bush — an appointment Aiken has touted since launching his campaign in February.

Crisco and Aiken are competing in the May 6 primary for the chance to take on Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the GOP-leaning district.

“Clay Aiken says helping children with special needs is one of his top priorities, but when the president appointed Clay Aiken to the Presidential Commission for People With Intellectual Disabilities, no-show Clay Aiken skipped every single meeting,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot.

The ad will air on broadcast in the Raleigh and Greensboro media markets, according to Crisco’s campaign. A Democratic source tracking media buys in North Carolina says the ad is backed by around $100,000.

It launched the same day Aiken went on TV with his first ad.

Aiken’s campaign is already fundraising off the attack, according to an email obtained by CQ Roll Call.

“Crisco and his campaign are twisting the facts about my service on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities,” Aiken says in the email, which asks for donations to “help us defend the campaign from these attacks.”

“While it’s true that I couldn’t attend many of the committee meetings, I had just finished American Idol,” the email continues. “So I made it clear to the committee during the first meeting I attended that I was touring and working on my album at the time and that I couldn’t be physically present for most meetings.”

Aiken, Crisco, as well as mental health counselor Toni Morris, are all long-shots to oust Ellmers in the 2nd District. If no candidate garners 40 percent in the Democratic primary, the race will head to a July 15 runoff.

The Crisco campaign said it hoped to shine a light on the record Aiken claims “as his experience for running for Congress.”

“It’s unfortunate that someone who gets appointed by the president of the United States doesn’t show up to any of the meetings, and it’s something that we wanted the people to know,” Crisco spokesman Aaron Fiedler said in a phone interview.

The district is tough for Democrats — Mitt Romney carried the seat with 58 percent in 2012. The race is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • MrBeasley

    Pretty sad that Crisco has to stoop to bashing a fellow Democrat. It isn’t even accurate. These are GOP tactics.

    • Antiguashores

      It’s a gentle ad compared to what the republican haters would say and do to Clay.

  • CaroleH

    I would say that Crisco is running scared. Regardless of the political experience, Clay is so much more qualified to serve his beloved State of North Carolina. I think that those who have met Clay will see his passion for helping his fellow residents of North Carolina. This is a man who could make more money at his old career but his desire to help others has a much stronger pull. Anyone would be lucky to have Clay represent and advocate for them.

    • Guest

      Clay not making money in music anymore. Clay advocating equality agenda (LGBT). Promoting Obama’s social issues and with no political experience. I have no desire to support him.

      • CaroleH

        Clay was still making more money than you or I could ever hope to make. Have you not heard him say that the gay marriage thing was already settled by the state? That is a state matter not a federal matter. I think Clay’s work with the National Inclusion Project is legitimate business experience not to mention the organization of tours, etc. He certainly has the gravitas for the job.

  • Giselle Singer

    Crisco has zero idea what he is talking about. His lack of SOLID facts will bite him in the 71 yr old butt come election day. (BTW – do ya think I could get a $200k loan from Crisco? He sure seems to be trying to buy the seat so he obviously has the money to loan out.)

    • Giselle Singer

      I see today that Crisco has now loaned himself another $80k+ for attack ads. Note to Crisco – if you think the DCCC is gonna support you in the general even IF you win the primary, think again. How are you going to pay back these loans?

      • waitingforthe1

        Clay is a millionaire, why doesn’t he invest some of his own money into the campaign?

        • MrBeasley

          Unlike Crisco, Clay doesn’t need to buy his seat..

          • waitingforthe1

            You’re right, Clay just wants his fans to buy the seat for him. He has sent endless emails to his fans asking for donations of money, even though the majority live outside of North Carolina.

            This whole meme of “Crisco is trying to buy the seat” is why this campaign turned ugly to begin with. Clay thinks he can attack Crisco for spending his own money on the campaign without getting any push back.

            Clay and his fans are in for a rude awakening. This isn’t the entertainment business. Politics is an ugly business and whining about being attacked makes Clay look like a chump.

          • MrBeasley

            Fundraising is a big part of campaigning. Buying a seat does not come from contributions but from your own bank account. Crisco has loaned himself 340 thousand so far just to fund his attack ads.

          • waitingforthe1

            Candidates loan themselves money all the time in campaigns. You sound very naive as to how politics actual work Mr. Beasley.

            Crisco has the money to spend. If he believes he’s the right man for the job why wouldn’t he invest in the effort to get elected? He’s not buying votes. He’s buying ad time to speak to the voters.

            And I doubt that one 30 second ad cost $340K.

      • Antiguashores

        So? he’s not stealing it.

    • Antiguashores

      Ya Think because the republicans get their seats from the Koch brothers dirty money and that’s a SOLID fact.

  • MrBeasley

    Attacking our beloved Clay is going to bite him in the ass. You can buy attack ads but you can’t buy votes.

    • CaroleH

      I thought he was using the appointment as an example of the bipartisanship he would like to see in government today.

  • waitingforthe1

    He couldn’t attended because he had “just finished idol”? Clay might want to consult a calendar. He appeared on Idol in 2003 and the Presidential Commission was in 2006. That’s a three year gap.
    The sad part isn’t Crisco pointing out that Clay is claiming to have worked on a commission that he never showed up for; the sad part is Clay being naive enough to believe that no one would check into this appointment. Clay is used to entertainment reporters who soft pedal questions to celebrities. This is politics. He and his fans better buckle up. If he wins the primary this “attack ad” will look like a Hallmark commercial compared to what Ellmer’s will do to him.

    • MrBeasley

      The roller coaster of Idol Super Fame lasts for several years without slowing down. In his perception he was just coming down from the super hype and demands of IDOL.

      • waitingforthe1

        You’re joking right? He was releasing his third album by then. He had already done an extensive North American Tour with Kelly Clarkson and a solo tour of his own the Summer of 2004. Clay’s “career” in music started winding down in 2004/2005 when radio didn’t play his music.

        • MrBeasley

          In 2005 he did another tour and then another one at Christmas. He was constantly touring and performing until he took time off for his baby in 2009.

          • waitingforthe1

            you really should just sit down Mr. Beasley. The reality is Clay accepted an appointment by the President to sit on a commission for People with Intellectual Disabilities and he didn’t show up to the meetings. Fine he was busy so why accept the appointment and why use it as a talking point on why he is running for Congress?

            Fact is he used this appointment to bolster the appearance that he was/is bipartisan and can work with Republicans to solve problems. There is no way he would know if he can work with Republicans since he did no work on the commission. That is the problem.

            btw, Clay’s baby was born in August of 2008 not 2009.

          • PeachyBreyer

            Seriously, you’ve never heard of phone conferencing, faxes, email, Skype???? How do you know he “did no work on the commission”? Just shut up now, idiot.

          • Guesticula

            Phone conferencing was made available to the committee members, and those that attended in this way were included on the official roster as having attended the meeting. Aiken didn’t do that.

            And we know he didn’t do any work on the commission, because when given the opportunity to explain the situation, Aiken has never brought up the work he did with the committee, other than ‘lending his name’, and for many that just isn’t enough of a commitment to justify trumpeting what Aiken did on the committee as ‘service’, and not just ‘service’ but the sort of ‘service’ that fundamentally changed who Aiken was as a person, and shaped his current political drive.

  • waitingforthe1

    I can’t believe the outrage over this ad. It’s just stating the facts. Clay didn’t show up to the meetings for the Presidential commission. Clay readily admitted this just a few days ago in the “on the record” interview. Interestingly, he didn’t mention that he had “just finished Idol” (which LOL no he hadn’t) or that he was touring/working on his album (again, no he wasn’t). the president’s commission appointment was in Sept 2006. Clay released his third album that same month.
    Clay claimed his role was to bring awareness to the commission yet I can find no evidence that he ever spoke about or promoted the commission after his appointment.

    You’re right though, you can’t buy votes. and you can’t get votes from fans who live outside the district. So both Clay and Ellmer’s seem to be in the same boat.

    • MrBeasley

      Clay was in Europe recording the album then was under contract to RCA to promote it for at least 6 months. Then he toured for Christmas 2006, went to Afghanistan for UNICEF then Summer tour 2007 and Christmas tour 2007, then a year on Broadway doing 8 shows a week in 2008.

      Busy man.

      • waitingforthe1

        Then he should have turned down the appointment OR not used it as a talking point on reasons why he decided to run for Congress. Clay opened this door himself, no one else.

        Clay was extremely naive to think that his opposition wouldn’t dig into his history and use whatever they found there against him.

        • MrBeasley

          He loaned them his celebrity to use to bring attention to the committee. That was the deal and he fulfilled it.

          • waitingforthe1

            when did he use is celebrity to bring attention to the commission? I have yet to find one piece of media where Clay talks about that appointment or commission prior to his intro video where he claims “that is when he learned it would take both parties to solve the problems”.

          • PeachyBreyer

            It wasn’t to bring attention to the committee (not commission), it was to bring attention to the CAUSE, idiot. And he talked about it constantly back then as he does now. He worked hard for that committee without having to attend quarterly report-reading meetings. He’s also talked about how disappointed & frustrated he became with the burocracy & found the meetings practically useless. But his whole life has been devoted to that CAUSE. Good grief, you haters are pathetic!

          • Guesticula

            This committee was a life-changing moment for Aiken, to hear him tell the story, and it was serving on this committee that opened his eyes to the need to run for higher office.

            Why do you feel compelled to trash the hard work these individuals did – and just what gives Aiken the right to trash the work the committee did, given that he personally couldn’t be bothered to even put in the bare minimum requirement and attend meetings.

            You have shined a very revealing light on the matter, as I’m now starting to really see what sort of man Aiken is. He accepts a responsibility, gets sworn in, then fails to put in the service, then bad mouths the group’s work as a waste of time based on what he thinks might be happening at the meetings. He then uses the call to service on this committee, which he claims made a powerful impact on his life, as a selling point as to why he should be in Congress. His lack of attendance gets pointed out, and he then offers excuse after excuse as to why it was okay for him not to attend meetings. Then his supporters spread new reasons, not stated by the candidate in recent interviews, to try and shut down this topic…

            Your defenses only make me more determined to see that Aiken isn’t allowed to waste space in Congress as we have plenty of other politicians who play these games of deception, and enough is enough.

  • Guest

    Negative attacks on a Democratic opponent spells D E S P E R A T I O N to me. I guess it is what the more modern Democrat describes as “old guard tactics.” Does move my meter from Aiken one bit! This is a sad ad.

  • pattyrat

    Attacks like this on a fellow Democrat opponent spells D E S P E R A T I O N in my mind. There is no other reason for Crisco to take this route – and it is sad to see him do so. Run on your OWN merits – otherwise, you’re in a trailing position.

    • waitingforthe1

      Crisco has been running on his own merits. Clay started this attack by saying Crisco is trying to “buy the seat”. That’s more negative than pointing out that Clay didn’t attend the meeting of a commission that he himself claimed was one of the reasons he decided to run.

      Clay is so used to being able to say whatever he wants and his fans eat it up without question that I’m sure he’s shocked that this has become an issue.

      • MrBeasley

        Crisco doesn’t have any merits which is why all he can do is attack.

        • waitingforthe1

          Right Mr. Beasley. Crisco isn’t a business owner who employees people in the district he is running in. Crisco wasn’tthe Secretary of Commerce for the State of North Carolina. Crisco has never held elected office for the Ashboro City Schools Board of Education or the Ashboro City Council…

          Oh wait….he has done all those things and more.

          Clay is the one without merit here.

          • PeachyBreyer

            And yet, Clay campaigned articulately & cleanly & WON! LOL! Bite it, hater.

          • Guesticula

            I couldn’t help but notice that even with his celebrity, and a 20 point lead, that Aiken just barely managed to squeak out a win… (we assume).

            Given his weak fundraising, and his inability to boost his own campaign with personal funds, not only has he managed to drive off the one candidate who might have had a chance in November, but he is now in a fairly weak position against Ellmers, who has money and will use it.

  • nonee

    Really????? I thought campaign ads were about promoting yourself not tearing down the opponent. WOW!!!

    • waitingforthe1

      are you new to the world of politics? LOL

      • nonee

        Not really. I’m retired and was hoping that all the negativity would turn to positivism in my lifetime. I know, I am just a naive oldster There is enough negativity already in the world.
        All this just seems silly to me.

        • Guesticula

          Crisco created and ran four positive ads, but I think it is fair game to point out that one of Aiken’s “accomplishments” he had touted as to why he would be the best candidate “for the children” is a bit hard to follow, given that the committee he went out of his way to mention – he didn’t even attend.

          In any event, I don’t doubt Aiken’s passion, but I think he is a bit too green and naive to go after such a high position as his first foray into politics. I’ve watched him talk about how he wishes to go to Washington and get both parties to work together – which sounds great, but without offering anything concrete as to “how” he plans to accomplish this – it comes off as the sort of pandering we’ve seen from far too many other politicians.

          At least Crisco has the experience I feel we need to run against Ellmers, and I don’t have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that he has some sort of ulterior motive. I get that nagging feeling with Aiken. If he can’t even be honest about his lack of involvement with that Presidential Committee that he brought up – well, that’s the sort of politician we don’t need.

          • PeachyBreyer

            Except that he DID work for the committee & attending quarterly bureaucratic meetings wasn’t his job. It was promoting the CAUSE. He’s always been honest about that.

          • Guest Commenter

            So you do realize he does not have the experience. Lending your name does not count for experience. His ad was to prove that he did not attend meetings, therefore he did not gain experience he has touted for.

          • Guesticula

            His ad certainly leaves one with the impression that he actually served on this prestigious committee, and for most watching, I suspect they would assume serving means attending at least a few of the meetings.

            I doubt many think that Aiken simply ‘allowing’ the committee to list his name as a member to give the actual hard work done by the other committee members more ‘promotion’ is the sort of ‘service’ experience that says Aiken is ready to represent people in Congress.

            In fact, such a belief tells me that Aiken must have quite a large ego – to think that his name is so powerful, he doesn’t even have to work on a committee to claim the credit.

          • Guesticula

            I’ve seen a candidate try and imply he served on a committee, from which he gained important life lessons going by his own statements, and when it was pointed out his lack of attendance according to official public records, scramble to offer excuses which change depending on who is asking at the time.

            The way you seem to be anxious to trash the work of the committee tells me that Aiken has not done a very good job at promoting the positive nature of this committee, if that was truly his ONLY responsibility. Aiken made the claim that ‘serving’ on this committee shaped who he was and was a fundamental influence in his current desire to seek higher office. I find it interesting that when the records point out the facts that he didn’t attend these highly influential meetings, that Aiken spins out excuses that were conveniently left out and never mentioned until very recently…

            In any event, I have read similar desperate postings from other Aiken supporters who seem determined to defend Aiken, even as they trash the very committee he was involved in – and that really makes me not like the sort of leader he is – to inspire his supporters to attack the very committee he was ‘allegedly’ brought on to promote.

  • halifaxresolves

    Aiken is in way over his head.

    • Antiguashores

      Not really, that was in democratic hands for years until that wacko Elmer fudd came along and redistricted otherwise she’s a useless waste of time that want to make it hard for average families and would take away social security,medicare and other safety nets she’s been nothing but a damn failure and a yes to obstructionism.

  • halifaxresolves

    If this is the best the democrits can do in NC, they are doomed.

    • Antiguashores

      Well republicrits got into power in 2010 now North Carolina is a total mess thanks to the republicrits ,NC is DOOMED.

  • Guest Commenter

    I am confused about the following. There is a limit to how much an individual can contribute to a congressional race. The individual limit is $2,600, making a married couple’s limit $5,200. Perhaps there is some falsification on the reports that are coming in prefessing that Crisco has “loaned” himself all of that money?? I can also appreciate an ad that states facts about the what the other candidate is giving himself credit for.

    • Dan Middleton

      I don’t know what you’re trying to say. You can donate as much as you want to your own campaign.

      • Guest Commenter

        OK, did not know that, but I still would like to see this report, because and various articles, the #s conflicting. It seems that most #s are conflicted. I feel that we have some starstruck supporters. I have respect for Aiken. He is obviously an incredible singer and entertainer. I have enjoyed listening to him in the past. I also believe he has strong passions for children and he has good intentions. At 35, I believe he should start a little smaller… perhaps mayor, councilman, etc. and earn the experience needed for Congress. Crisco is a brilliant man and has an incredible background to qualify him for Congress. They both have universal recognition and contacts, but for different things. I believe we can all agree that JOBS is our #1 problem. I am tired of going through NC towns that look like they are diminishing, including the 2nd district. Crisco has helped bring so many jobs to NC, about 120,000 of them. No easy task. I challenge someone to look into how many jobs have been brought to NC under our new administration.

    • PeachyBreyer

      Except it’s not facts, it’s disingenuous & misleading. Attending meetings was never Clay’s JOB on that committee & Crisco knows it.

  • Guest

    Looks like Ellmers has got this one.

    • PeachyBreyer

      Well, the Koch Brothers will do their best to buy it for her, that’s for sure.

  • Roberto M

    What’s really disturbing about this ad is the ungodly amount of money being spent by a Democrat on a race he has very little chance of winning. Regardless of who wins the Dem primary, they will get pummeled come November, and as someone else mentioned in another post, the DCCC won’t come to anyone’s rescue on this race when the money can be better spent elsewhere.

    • waitingforthe1

      So you think the Democrats should just concede the race to Ellmers’ without a fight? Yeah that’s exactly what they want.

      At least Crisco is willing to risk his own money to run this race instead of begging for more and more money from fans who don’t even live within the district.

      Clay’s team is even asking for volunteers to make calls for him pointing out that they didn’t need to live within the district to volunteer.

      • PeachyBreyer

        Yeah, like THAT’s never been done before. You really need to bone up on political campaigning, because nearly ALL candidates with a national presence do it.

  • Antiguashores

    The republicans are more scared of Crisco than Aiken so when the republicans show any sympathy or support for Clay Aiken watch out! I love Clay but Crisco has more gravitas and would give the crazy wacko tea party Elmers a run fro her money.

    • PeachyBreyer

      Please…… Clay would wipe the floor with Ellmers Fudd in a debate. Of course, she’ll never debate him because she can easily see he has more brains than her. Just watch her try to avoid a one-on-one, you can bet on it.

  • Antiguashores

    Way to loose.

    • Amy

      Oh, did I strike a nerve :-( . I am a winner. Always have been, always will be.

  • Oscar’s Wilde

    By attacking private property, collectivism redirects aggression outward and furthers modern systems of plunder, serfdom, and injustice.

  • PeachyBreyer

    Wonder when we’ll see the ad attacking Crisco about all the jobs he’s outsourced to South America??????

    • Guest Commenter

      From what I understand, he started what is now a well established business in North Carolina. A textile company that continues to employ people right here in NC. I am not a business person, but I am able to recognize the need to open up warehouses in out of country areas to be near a portion of your customers. It is called being a smart business man! It needs to happen to be competitive and to keep what we have here in NC at all. I hope you do not wish this textile company to go bankrupt as so many others in NC have done.

      • PeachyBreyer

        No, Crisco needs to stop supporting tax-breaks for companies who employ more people outside the U.S. than in. All of which he does. And….. wait for it…… CLAY WON! HAHA!!

        • Guest Commenter

          I have a feeling you are not from the second district, as I am. Because if you were, you woud realize all of the empty textile buildings around here. So many have failed and left many unemployed. Unemployment is a huge problem. And Clay has not won. He will not be in Congress. No disrespect to Clay, because I do not dislike anyone that is willing to serve, but there is NO WAY that he will be elected as Congressman in these parts.

          • Guesticula

            I doubt she is even a North Carolinian, but rather, a star-struck fan of Mr. Aiken. There is something rather sad that a celebrity can come into a race and get votes based on the most shallow of reasons, while someone with actual experience and dedication to public service, someone who actually has a clue how to help the people in the district, can’t quite pull it off. It’s frustrating.

            Both Crisco and Morris have a strong connection to the district, and they certainly had a calling to serve, and for most voters, that is what they wanted. A minority of voters went with the flashy candidate whom they liked from American Idol, and who gets to go on national TV.

            Winning the 2nd district was always going to be a long shot, but now it seems to be a no shot with no show Clay.

  • Guesticula

    In all fairness, Aiken has already responded to this issue. His priority at the time he accepted the appointment to the committee was not the children who might have benefited from his participation on this committee, but his career. He says that has changed now.

    I will grant you that it makes no sense for him to bring up this particular item when he didn’t attend the meetings and was never a priority, so I can’t say I’m a bit surprised Crisco called him out on it. I think Aiken was just hoping no one would notice.

    • PeachyBreyer

      Wrong. Clay talked about the job at the time. He WAS extremely busy back then touring, recording & acting, however he did go to the first meeting & discussed this & everyone there agreed that his personal presence at quarterly meetings was unnecessary. He thereafter sent a rep from his foundation for the other 6 meetings (another thing Crisco lied about). Clay discussed having to read long reports from the committee & writing his own assessments, lobbying Congress for the cause, etc. There’s plenty of work to do the rest of the year that’s more important for the kids & Clay’s position on this committee was to bring attention to the cause. Crisco’s ad was completely disingenuous. Missing meetings in DC is as common as flirting with interns.

      • Guesticula

        It is a wonder that you have all of this insider information. I based my own comments on what Aiken has actually said on the matter in recent interviews, so if we are to accept what you are saying as true, then it seems to support the claim that Aiken is not very effective at explaining himself. Leaving out all of the details you seem to instinctively “know” does not fill me with confidence in Aiken’s ability to communicate openly and honestly.

        Even if your unsubstantiated opinion as to what Aiken actually did were to be true, I happen to think that this sort of involvement in the committee’s work does not equate ‘serving’ on the committee. Not showing up for quarterly meetings, or even attending via phone conferencing, and allegedly sending a representative (whose name we can only guess at as this ‘representative’ doesn’t show up on the attendance sheets either) is hardly true service. And you are very wrong to assume that skipping these meetings was a common thing. In fact, every other committee member attended at least four of eight meetings, and the vast majority attended them all, or missed one. So, Aiken was definitely the exception.

        None of this truly answers the real question as to whether Aiken will stick with the responsibilities that come with serving in Congress, were he to be so lucky, or whether he will skip out from time to time, perhaps sending in a ‘representative’ in his place.

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