Clay Aiken thinks Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has a chance to shake up the US political system for the better with his headline-grabbing candidacy.
The American Idol runner-up who ran for a seat in the US Congress last year spent some time with the real estate mogul in 2012 when he competed on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice and finished second.
‘I think he has a really great opportunity even if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination to do something I think the country has needed for a long time, which is to try to break this stranglehold of the two-party system,’ Aiken, an openly gay Democrat, tells Billboard.com.
‘I kind of hope he decides to stick with it and maybe give people another option outside of the Republicans and Democrats.’
In 1992, another billionaire businessman, Ross Perot, ran as an independent candidate in a contest between Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton.
Perot benefited from populist resentment toward establishment politicians and at one point led Clinton and Bush in the polls just as Trump is currently leading his Republican rivals. In the end, Perot received 18.9% of the popular vote in the election won by Clinton.
Aiken says those who dismiss Trump at this point are being ‘shortsighted.’
‘I don’t think anybody should discount him,’ he said. ‘Nobody thought that we would see him in the position he is in right now. He is certainly the front-runner with no signs of that fading.’