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In Clay Aiken’s recent interview with the New York Times, the Democratic nominee for North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District distanced himself from President Barack Obama in order to appeal to the conservative voting base in his home state of North Carolina. Suggesting that his own campaign is in good shape, Aiken quipped that he “doesn’t need” the president to come campaign for him.

This is quite the change of heart from earlier this year, when Aiken praised Obama on "Face the Nation" for “speaking out on principle” about gay marriage. Where did Aiken’s endorsement of Obama go, now that Election Day in North Carolina is less than a month away? How strange for the gay Democratic candidate to shun the most powerful Democrat in the country, especially when he also supports marriage equality — a deferred extension of civil rights in which Aiken should no doubt see the benefit.

Biting the hand that feeds is never in good taste, and certainly won’t pay off for Aiken. Suggesting that the President’s support would do nothing to charge the Democratic base for Aiken in North Carolina is about as absurd as believing that the exclusion of the president from Aiken’s campaign will do anything to sway conservative North Carolinians to check Aiken’s box on Election Day.

There is not a PR rep out there that can seep Aiken’s campaign in enough Republican rhetoric to make him palatable to the majority of North Carolina, when the facts are simply against him. Aiken supports marriage equality, but 48 percent of likely NC voters don’t, compared to 44 percent that do. Aiken supports a minimum wage hike; less than half of North Carolina voters do. Aiken wants to expand Medicare and Medicaid, but the Governor of North Carolina, Pat McRory signed a bill just last year that prevented North Carolina from committing to the expansion. Aiken is not getting the support he needs from within his state, because, like comedian Bill Maher put it in another NYT interview, “The redneck vote has sailed,” and there is realistically nothing that Aiken can do to steal those votes back. His focus cannot be on the lost cause of Republican votes, but must instead be on inspiring apathetic or independent voters to swing his way this election.

Despite the boldness in Aiken’s claims, here is the truth: He will need help, and a great deal of it, if he intends to win in the conservative state, where electoral votes have gone to the Republican candidate every time but once since 1980. Wavering in one’s integrity is never a path towards political victory — fighting the good fight with all you can is. Rejecting any potential help from the President is the final nail in Aiken’s North Carolina coffin— his disingenuous flip-flopping and Pyrrhic approach to campaigning already started that carpentry project and doomed him from the start.

Reach the columnist at or follow him on Twitter @OnlyH_man

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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