Ellmers, Aiken trade barbs in lone debate

Posted October 6, 2014
Updated October 7, 2014

— Republican 2nd District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers and her Democratic challenger, singer Clay Aiken, clashed Monday during an hour-long debate in Pinehurst, each accusing the other of being too closely bound to their party leadership.

The debate, hosted by the North Carolina Bankers Association and Capitol Broadcasting Co., was the first and only head-to-head meeting between the two candidates as Election Day approaches.

Ellmers repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama’s policies on immigration, health care and the economy and linked him to Aiken, who is a first-time candidate.

“This Obama-Aiken economy is just killing us,” Ellmers said when asked if Congress was doing enough to spark economic growth.

Aiken retorted that the linkage was “preposterous” and that it has been partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., that was to blame for many of the nation’s problems. He said that Ellmers was beholden to House Speaker John Boehner to the point where she changed her position on major policy issues because he did.

“Whoever is speaker would never be my boss, and it’s a shame that you still believe Speaker Boehner is your boss,” Aiken said.

Often, the two candidates found common ground on policy, but they split on how best to push through legislation.

Ellmers also took swings at Aiken for naiveté, suggesting at several points that he did not understand the legislative process.

“It’s almost as if, as an entertainer, you think that means you can go in with a song and dance and change the minds of our military leaders,” Ellmers said in response to a questions about bolstering care in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Aiken returned to the theme of a “do-nothing Congress,” saying, “The most embarrassing reality show in the country right now is Congress.”

Afterward, he said that Ellmers attacked his biography because she had nothing substantive to say.

Ellmers said after the debate, “That is his opinion. He is an entertainer. He is an actor…that’s how the people of the 2nd District know him.”


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  • Roy Blumenfeld Oct 8, 2014
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    Pretty much.

  • Objective Scientist Oct 7, 2014

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    From the perspective of an extremely strong INDEPENDENT... there is often little to nothing that a politician/elected official - especially in our Legislatures - can accomplish entirely on their own. Hagan, Ellmers... or Tillis, Aiken if they should be elected... must persuade a sufficient number of other Legislators to agree with/vote for what they may want. Problem is... in today's political world.... blatant and blind partisanship prevents the lucid, logical, pragmatic type of discussions necessary to negotiate and compromise on issues... thereby preventing the accomplishment of much of anything. The only exception is if one party in the Legislature has a "bullet-proof" majority... but when that is the case the partisan majority runs rough-shod over the minority party. The current extreme partisanship stymies true progress on almost anything... and is driving our state and nation to ruin!

  • Objective Scientist Oct 7, 2014

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    Would you care to explain your comment stated directly to me... and not the subject of the article? I promise not to lose even one second of sleep whatever it is. That said... I agree with your previous comment in which you said that NEITHER of these two candidates is good for NC. I agree with you absolutely - 100%!!! Sadly that may be - likely is - the case for many political races!

  • archmaker Oct 7, 2014

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    People have made up their own Reagan now. They don't even remember what he really did.
    Oh, and Reagan voted for Al Gore…

  • babylaceycarpenter Oct 7, 2014

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    Yea...we know how independent you are

  • Objective Scientist Oct 7, 2014

    I am a very VERY INDEPENDENT independent and have no "dog in this fight" with regard to which of those two - Ellmers - Aiken - are Democrat or Republican. To me... Ellmers came across as petty and disrespectful... and nothing of substance. It was clear she wanted to and she indeed used the "song and dance" phrase and "entertainer" incessently! Initially, I thought Ellmers had potential to be at least an "OK" Representativie. Was I ever disappointed! She entrenched herself beside Boehner and never had an original thought of her own... if she did, I missed it! IMO - she has been ineffective as she, in "lockstep" fashion, followed the party line verbatim with no - NONE - independent thought. Will Aiken - if elected - be any better? There are no guarantees he will.... but he surely cannot be worse! For several years... the House of Representatives has been ineffective... and the Senate not far behind the House, if at all! Time for some CHANGES! Many incumbents are useless!!!

  • Wake1 Oct 7, 2014

    Was not a Clay supporter, but Elmers had nothing good to say & really hasn't accomplished anything. Of the two, I think we'd be better off to see what Mr. Aiken can accomplish.

  • Atheistinafoxhole Oct 7, 2014

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    I was pleasantly surprised by Clay Aiken. I honestly didn't expect him to be so well versed on the issues, let alone genuine and passionate. By doing his homework so diligently, he shows that he really does care.

  • Grand Union Oct 7, 2014

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    Why? Electing Mr Aiken would go some way to fixing one of the biggest problems in Gov., namely the Republican Dominance of the US house.

  • rickandlinda88 Oct 7, 2014

    IT has taken a lot of guts for clay aiken to run for public what he's a singer/actor..big deal..he's also smart;well read and informed..i think he will do well in congress.can't do any worse than renee ellmers..go clay!!!should have won 'idol"got cheated on that one..