Ruben Studdard has stepped up in defense of Clay Aiken, who is making a run to represent North Carolina’s Second Congressional District.
Studdard, who competed against Aiken on the second season of American Idol, was responding to allegations made by Aiken’s opponent that he had a poor attendance record on a presidential commission eight years ago and that the North Carolina native was not being committed to the causes of special needs children. Studdard made it known he will not stand by idly “while someone attacked my friend in an area where he has such an incredible track record of doing so much good for so many children.
“Truth is, Clay’s dedicated his life to people with disabilities,” said Studdard in a television spot released by Aiken’s campaign. “He received his college degree in special education. He taught children with autism. And Clay agreed to support the presidential commission to help people with intellectual disabilities because he believed so strongly in its work.”
Studdard continued his support with a written statement following the release of the ad.
“I have known and considered Clay a great friend for the past 11 years,” he said. “I have always known him to be a staunch defender of children with special needs.”
Aiken has been hitting the campaign trail with a succession of high-profile appearances gearing up to the North Carolina primary election, set for May 6.
The entertainer stopped by for a chat on the Colbert Report Wednesday night to talk about his views.
“I think people are very fed up with the kind of tone-deaf representation they’ve had,” he said.
He also defended himself against attacks on his character.
“I have spent my entire life since Idol trying to stand up for children with disabilities. I have started an organization for kids with disabilities and have been an advocate for certain populations for the past 11 years. And these people in North Carolina put me here. They gave me this platform. They gave me this microphone,” he said. “And I feel like it’s my responsibility to use that to give back to them and make sure they’re represented in a way.”
But if anyone is expecting to hear Aiken sing on the campaign trail, that particular voice will be silent — except maybe for the National Anthem. “I have had a great 11 years singing. And this is the new chapter for me. I think it’s more important than singing, and so I have put that on the back burner for sure,” he said.
- This story originally appeared on THR.com