- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2015

Past “American Idol” runner-up and 2014 congressional candidate Clay Aiken praised former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Monday as the “forebearer and forerunner” of health care reform, citing her work on the issue as first lady.

Mr. Aiken, who lost to GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina last year, was asked by a caller on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” to name an accomplishment from Mrs. Clinton.

“I’m not Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager; I think we’ve seen a history … of her in the Senate with accomplishments she’s had not only as first lady and being the forebearer and forerunner of making sure health care reform passed,” he said. “I mean, this is something that she started back in the ‘90s, and we’ve seen the fruition of in the Obama campaign. She’s been a part of policy change for decades.”

As first lady, Mrs. Clinton, who announced on Sunday she is running for president in 2016, famously led a push for universal health care that opponents derided as “Hillarycare” and that failed to gain traction in Congress.

Mr. Aiken also offered Mrs. Clinton some constructive criticism on her announcement video, saying on Twitter Sunday: “@HillaryClinton, I love you. But why are you the stiffest and most scripted looking person in this video? #loosenup”

“I’m not going to suggest anything to Hillary Clinton — she’s been doing it far longer than me. I think my concern really is that a lot of the people on the Republican side, in my opinion, can come across as really folksy, and they can come across as really folksy and use it to mask some of their incredibly far-right wing views,” he said on C-SPAN.

“And, you know, we’ve seen in the past that presidents often get elected based on who you want to have the beer with, who you feel you relate to the most,” Mr. Aiken continued. “And I want and even need, I think the country needs Hillary Clinton to win, and so I just wanted to challenge her in that moment to you know, relax a little bit. She had a lot of very casual people in the video and then she seemed very stiff, almost.”

“That’s just a desire that I really just want her to be folksy ‘cause I need her to win,” he said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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