Former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is officially running for Congress in his home state of North Carolina. Earlier this year, rumors swirled that the "Invincible" singer was "actively considering" running.
In his surprisingly revealing five-minute campaign video, Clay, an openly gay Democrat, tells his story of growing up poor. He opens up about sleeping on a mattress in a family friend's living room after his mother sought refuge from his abusive father.
"In some ways, this is where my life really began," Clay says, seated in a chair in the middle of the living room where he used to sleep. "My mother and I only had each other. And she protected me, not just from my father, but from as many harsh realities as she could.
"You might wonder what would qualify me to run [for Congress]," Clay states later in the video. "Well, it starts with a life I remember all too well: Mom working nights at Sears, clothes from the thrift store, Christmases where I might only get one small present... School was the only chance I had to pull myself up, to achieve a dream I long held: To teach."
Aiken speaks about his years teaching students with autism and collaborating with UNICEF on projects overseas. He also mentions his work with George W. Bush on a special presidential commission to address educational challenges of children with special needs. We had no idea Clay had been so busy since his AI days.
Aiken is currently up against two challengers in the Democratic primary. If he wins the Democratic nomination, he would take on Rep. Renee Ellmers, the Republican incumbent. For reference, Republican Mitt Romney won 58% of that district's vote in the 2012 presidential election.
Watch Clay Aiken's emotional video above, and if you want to contribute to his campaign, you can do so on his website.