The Fine Print
More than a decade after Clay Aiken made his singing debut on the stage of “American Idol,” he is taking to the political stage, competing for a very different sort of title: U.S. Congressman.
Running as a Democrat in North Carolina’s 2nd District, Aiken is making the case to voters that his voice is good for more than just singing.
“What people don't recognize is that in the months and weeks following 'American Idol,' I worked to set up an organization for kids with disabilities, and for the last 11 years I've helped grow that organization from one that had programs in North Carolina to one that has programs in states across the country,” Aiken told “The Fine Print.”
In an effort to get voters to focus on him as a candidate rather than a singer, Aiken has put a stop on the singing – at least for now – as he travels across in his native North Carolina, where he faces an uphill battle as a Democrat running in a conservative district.
“I recognize that this box that people have me in is that of a singer,” Aiken said. “There's a whole bunch more to me than just being a singer, and we've done a great job of explaining that to folks. By singing I put myself back in the box, and that's not necessarily what we're trying to do here.”
During an appearance on “The Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert tried to get Aiken to sing the national anthem with him, but he refused. “There's a very big difference [between] doing it in a mocking way and doing it seriously,” Aiken explained.
“The Colbert Report” aside, Aiken has made a few exceptions to his ban on campaign trail singing.
“There've been one or two times on the campaign trail, where it was organic – there was a band, and somebody else was singing – and I stepped up and sang just a little bit,” Aiken said.
Aiken said he’s running for Congress to fill what he sees as a “vacuum” of needed leadership in Washington. And in his home district, Aiken believes there is a sentiment of anger toward Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, who was elected in 2010.
“My mom used to joke that I was gonna go … to Hollywood, and 'go Hollywood.' And I clearly did not, I stayed about a year and a half and came home, and I'm the same person I was before,” Aiken said.
And though Aiken said he didn’t “go Hollywood,” he believes Ellmers has gone Washington.
For more of the interview with Aiken, and to hear if he will sing again if elected to Congress, check out this episode of “The Fine Print.”
ABC News’ Alexandra Dukakis, Tom Thornton, Hank Disselkamp and Vicki Vennell contributed to this episode.