Raleigh, N.C. — The sharp elbows have come out in the Democrats' 2nd Congressional District primary, where Keith Crisco is airing an ad characterizing his chief rival, Clay Aiken, as a "no-show" for his last government job.
Aiken, a singer and Broadway actor, and Crisco, a former state secretary of commerce, along with Antoinette Morris, a counselor from Fayetteville, are vying for the chance to take on Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers this fall.
As first reported by Roll Call, Crisco launched the ad this week. The newspaper cited a source saying that Crisco will pay $100,000 to air the commercial.
“Clay Aiken says helping children with special needs is one of his top priorities, but when the president appointed Aiken to the committee on people with intellectual disabilities, no-show Clay Aiken skipped every single meeting – eight out of eight." says the commercial's narrator. "Aiken's excuse? He was just too busy. 'No Show Clay' – if he's too busy for the president and special-needs children, how can we count on Clay?"
Aiken, who began airing his own ad this week, appeared on the April 19 edition of On the Record and addressed his time on what is correctly called The President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Public records do show that Aiken missed most of those during his time on the commission.
"I went to the first one early on and spoke to some folks about my role in the commission," Aiken said during his On the Record appearance. "I certainly recognize that one of the things I'm able to bring – especially at that time when I was touring pretty much nonstop – one of the things that I was able to bring to the commission was attention. And each person had their role. And of course, there were professors and doctors and whatnot. And then there were some folks on there whose job it was to get people to pay attention to what the administration was trying to do."
Pressed as to what he would say to someone making the "no-show" criticism, Aiken said there was a "very big difference that time and now.
"I have foregone all of my entertainment responsibilities. I've retired. I've taken a indefinite sabbatical because this is the thing I want to focus on. Sold my house because I wanted to make sure I was able to focus specifically on everything that I need to do for the people of this district. That is my primary focus now. It was not my primary focus at the time, and it was recognized and it was understood by people back in 2003 and (2004)....I've made a very clear differentiation between that time in my life and now."