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Clay Aiken Running For Congress; Fans: "Biggest Loser" Winner Is Too Thin; Parents Of Teen Found Dead At School

Aired February 5, 2014 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour, I'm Brooke Baldwin, and this is CNN here. Ronald Reagan did it. Arnold Schwarzenegger did it. Jesse Ventura and Al Franken, both did. Have you guessed what it is? If not, keep thinking because now this guy wants to do it too.

Yes, that is Clay Aiken of "American Idol" fame. Have you guessed what it is yet? Well, this should tell you right here. Take a look.


CLAY AIKEN, FORMER "AMERICAN IDOL" RUNNER UP: In some ways this is where my life really began. On the floor of a living room in a small North Carolina home where my mother and I only had each other. She protected me. Not just from my father, but many harsh realities as she could and more often than not, she distracted me with music. So much of who I am was shaped in the those early years and it's part of why I decided to run for Congress.


BALDWIN: That's right. Clay Aiken is running for Congress, and guess what else. We have Clay Aiken. Clay, welcome. Nice to see you.

AIKEN: Good to see you too, Brooke. Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Here you are from Raleigh, North Carolina and watching that whole video this morning, Clay, I mean, you have an incredibly compelling story. My question is this. Is a compelling personal story a qualification to get elected? Does that suffice?

AIKEN: No, I don't think it does. I do think that story qualifies me in the sense that I understand that we all go through issues. We all go through struggles in life and they make us who we are and we learn from them. For that reason I think empathy and caring for the people he represents is a really important qualification for Congress.

You know, as a society, we have decided that lawyers and what not should be the people in Congress. But we see what that's gotten us so far. So I think understanding constituents and caring about them and their needs should be the most important qualification.

We'll get to Congress here in just a minute, but I want you, just for people who have seen the video, just remind all of us of your back story with your mom and your dad.

AIKEN: You know, my birth father was -- had a struggle with alcoholism and could be violent. My mother and I lived in some ways sort of on the run from him for a year so when I was really young. You know, I don't think my story is while the details may be slightly different than some people. My story is not that different from other people who have gone through things that have made them who they are, made them stronger. But I think as a country we have gone through enough difficult times that made us strong and it's time to get back to a place where we are going through positive times.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about this run for Congress. I have been reading reports Clay Aiken that you have been out and about meeting with donors. Who recruited you to run?

AIKEN: No one recruited me to run. I took this upon myself about a year ago as we are getting really frustrated with some of the dysfunction in Washington. Being frustrated with the fact that the representative who now serves me I had been redistricted into a different district than I had been in.

I think I didn't believe it was listening to the people. I think she -- honestly I do believe that she went to Washington because she wanted to do good for people. When she got there in my opinion, she started listening to leaders in her party instead of the people at home. And that's evidence in some of her votes.

BALDWIN: You are referring to Congresswoman Rene Elmers and what I've read in this district, redder than red. But you know, in this video, you clearly talked about her. You highlight the government's dysfunction. You mentioned the government shut down and also specifically military -- there are two issues. Explain your biggest frustration with this congresswoman that you are ultimately hoping to unseat.

AIKEN: Listen. I don't think that it is redder than red. Listen, polls and what not can show us that, but I don't think anybody lives on one end of the political spectrum or the other. Everyone lives somewhere in the middle, but I think people in Congress nowadays especially with my opponent have tended to go on to one side or the other and they don't listen.

Because they feel they are safe in their districts and they don't listen to their constituents. In our district, specifically, Fort Brag, one of the largest and most important military installations in the country is based in this district.

And yet, some of the votes that Congresswoman Elmers has taken have directly affected negatively the people and military families and members. That's frustrating because that says she is not listening. That says that there is not a connect apparently between what she is doing and the way it affects people's lives in this district.

BALDWIN: Congresswoman Elmers has said this and I'm sure you've seen this with regard to your run, "Apparently his performing career is not going well so he is very bored." Not to mention she is a two-term incumbent. She is a Republican in a red state and a woman. Clay Aiken, I mean, I know Simon Cowell is one thing, but this is a congresswoman mocking you. Welcome to politics. Your reaction to that?

AIKEN: Well, you know, I've said before, I think that politics is the only place in the world where one person's success depends on another purpose's failure. So for that reason, unfortunately, we see people going to Congress now who are specifically trying to tear the other person down instead of working to do something positive. That's why we have a problem.

Now one is going to try to do anything effective and positive instead, everyone, both parties spend all their time knocking the other side down to try to win by making the other person lose. I think, you know, I've heard plenty of criticisms over the past ten years.

I am certainly not bothered by criticisms toward me, but I am bothered by the idea that this is how we are supposed to be getting things done in this country by critiquing other people instead of doing positive things.

BALDWIN: Let me take a quick break, Clay Aiken, but I want you to stick around. Because if you win, I know you say you won't be a politician in this video, but you are hoping to be a member of U.S. Congress. Up there in Washington, you will be ticking off Americans. Coming up next, I want to hear what areas President Obama, a fellow Democrat where he has disappointed you. That's next.


BALDWIN: We are back with Clay Aiken. He has just announced this morning that he is running for Congress. So where were we, Clay Aiken, watching the whole video in the announcement, you criticized your opponent, her Republican leaders in Washington, but I have to ask, can you give me just one example of where over the course of however many years President Obama has disappointed you?

AIKEN: You know, I think there is systemically a problem in Washington with people not talking to each other and not working together. I don't think the president is immune from this criticism. I think that both parties need to learn to reach across the aisle and I think the president can do a better job of reaching out to Congressional leaders to come to workable solutions for both parties and for the people of the country.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about an issue that President Obama this his word was evolved on the stance, same-sex marriage. In 2004, you came out to your mom after dropping off your little brother and I read the article in "People" where you said your mom struggled with it at first. My question to you, if you win this seat, how would you convince the majority of your southern conservative state that same- sex marriage should be legal?

AIKEN: You know, I don't think that's an issue in this particular election. It is something that is a settled issue in North Carolina. It's not something that a congressman has anything to do with. My position on that is obviously pretty clear, but at the same time when I talked to people around the district, when I talk to people in this area to things on their minds of the economy and jobs and being able to put their kids through college, being able to trained for adults so they can get the new jobs, taking care of veterans and things in this district that take precedent over any issue like that. So I don't know that that would necessarily be an issue that I would be discussing much in this campaign.

BALDWIN: You said it's settled and case closed on that issue in your state?

AIKEN: Within North Carolina, the voters have put an amendment in the constitution amendment in the constitution defining marriage and for that reason. I have no choice but to respect the decision of those voters. Again, it's not an issue that is going to be discussed much in this campaign regardless of my views on it.

BALDWIN: OK, final question, give me your campaign trail phrase, one sentence. Go.

AIKEN: A phrase. I would say that we want to work together. We want to get America working together. That means the people in Washington working together. We want to get the people of America working and doing it together. We don't have a slogan. I made it up with you right here.

BALDWIN: We are working on it. It's OK. We are going with it. Clay Aiken, thank you so much and best of luck to you. Appreciate you coming on here on the show.

Coming up next, the Red Hot Chili Peppers unplugged. Bassist Flea is responding to criticism after their pre-recorded Super Bowl performance at least with the instrumentation after the break.

Plus, did the biggest loser actually lose too much? Pictures of the reality show winner revealed a dramatic change is losing so much weight so fast. We will discuss, next.


BALDWIN: What is the Super Bowl halftime show without a little controversy? Here's today's "CNN Pop."


BALDWIN (voice-over): Air guitar. Flea admitting the Red Hot Chili Peppers went unplugged, the equivalent of lip synching for guitar guys. The rocker told fans he didn't have the choice. It's the NFL's policy that musicians can't play live.

As Jay Leno gets ready to step down from "The Tonight Show," he told nearly 44,000 jokes over the past two decades. Who were his favorite targets you ask, any guesses?

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": It will be an exciting season finale of the tonight show. I want to thank all the people that made it possible. Michael Jackson, Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton.

President Clinton upset about the low approval rating. The word is his staff is thinking of changing his theme song from don't stop thinking about tomorrow to take this job and shove it.

I was walk along the beach and I pick up a sea shell and I hear O.J. talking about the case. He just keeps talking.

BALDWIN: According to a new study, Leno did more Bill Clinton jokes over any politician. As for celebrities no one came close to O.J. Simpson. Beckham is back. The star is getting ready to be the owner of a new team in Major League soccer. Beckham wants to build a stadium on the water in South Florida.

DAVID BECKHAM: Miami is a vibrant city. It's a city with a lot of passion. I know this city is ready for football.

BALDWIN: Wait a sec, football?

BECKHAM: I know the city is ready for football, soccer this time around.

BALDWIN: That's today's "CNN Pop."


BALDWIN: Now to the primetime TV's biggest loser in the controversy surrounding the new winner. She is $250,000 richer and 155 pounds lighter, tremendous feat, right? Not for a lot of fans of the show. They are actually stunned saying she went too far and she looks unhealthy. Here's CNN's Nischelle Turner.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their faces say it all. Big shocker and possibly bigger controversy on the biggest loser last night, brand-new winner, 24-year-old Rachel Frederickson astonishing everyone revealing a staggering 155-pound weight loss. Frederickson, a former swimming champ broke a new record for the show by shedding 60% of her total body weight.

RACHEL FREDERICKSON, WINNER, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": Choosing to own my path and move forward in this life and know that I can take control and do anything that I want. It's just amazing.

TURNER: But some people are less amazed and more concerned fearing Frederickson has lost too much weight. Stunned viewers took to Twitter to voice their alarm saying watching the biggest loser finale and I am seriously concerned that the confetti will knock Rachel over. This is the first time I have seen a contestant go too far. Genuinely upset about this one.

Also, I think it's kind of sad how young girls and teens are watching this as an example. NBC should probably know better. So far no word from NBC or the biggest loser, but not the first time the reality series came under fire. Last November Jillian Michaels got into trouble for giving her team caffeine supplements without a doctor's permission. Her team was penalized although Michaels insists the pills were safe.

JILLIAN MICHAELS, TRAINER, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": It's healthier than unlimited amounts of coffee. My only regret is that my team are the ones suffering the consequences of my professional opinion.


BALDWIN: Nischelle Turner, thank you. Senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen joins me now here in studio, and also Dr. Ian Smith, author of "Shred, The Revolutionary Diet." So welcome to both of you. Dr. Ian Smith, my first question to you here, because again, we heard she went from 260 to 105 pounds. I read one adjective you used to describe her appearance is skeletal.

DR. IAN SMITH, AUTHOR, "SHRED, THE REVOLUTIONARY DIET": Yes, well, absolutely, Brooke. Let me have full disclosure. My book said you can lose 20 pounds in four weeks. So I do actually say that you can lose rapid weight in a healthy manner, but the problem is to lose 60 percent of your body weight in such a short period of time is very troubling because it can cause so many physiological problems.

I mean, we are talking gallstone potentials. We are talking problems with your electrolytes and constipation, hair loss and dizziness and all kinds of problems that can be caused by losing that amount of weight in such a short period of time. So it's very serious.

BALDWIN: So we hear short period of time. Elizabeth Cohen, this is my next question to you. Do we actually know how long these people have losing the weight?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't. We have asked about that and we don't have a good answer on that. What experts said is it's all about the period of time. That's really, really crucial. We don't know. Is it during just the course of the season? Well, that would be a pretty short amount of time. It was longer? Did they tape beforehand? We just don't know.

What we know is that you can lose a lot more weight safely is you're supervised by a doctor who knows what they are doing. So it's very different than doing it on your own. I mean, these conditions, what is it, you are living with roommates. You are cooking, but you're provided the food.

You are working out and eating right. You don't have to work to hold down a job. Dr. Smith, I mean, that makes a lot of people inspired by the show. I realize that. Is it a good model for folks?

SMITH: Well, you know, Brooke, I want to piggy back, Elizabeth. I've said for a long time that the good thing about the biggest loser is that they are talking about obesity and the need for people to do things that are natural to change the situation that they are in. The bad thing for viewers is that we don't know what's happening behind those curtains. We don't how long they are working out. We don't know what they are eating. There really is a big mystery. It's unfair to viewers to see this dramatic weight loss without knowing what they really did to get there. Yes, they're working out and eating better, but we don't know the details.

BALDWIN: Maybe somebody will finally lift the veil. Elizabeth Cohen and Dr. Ian Smith, thanks.

Coming up next, the family of a teenager found dead in his high school gym mat suing the funeral home who handled the body of their son. Hear what impacts this could have on finding out what happened next.


BALDWIN: Now to a CNN exclusive involving the death of that Georgia teenager found dead at his high school. Kendrick Johnson's body was found inside a rolled up gym mat at his high school gym in Valdosta last January. The original sheriff's department investigation indicated he had died by accident. He had suffocated after trying to reach his shoe.

But his parents never really bought that. When they had his remains exhumed for independent autopsy, they were shocked to learn his organs were missing and his body was stuffed with newspapers. Now they are suing. Victor Blackwell is the one sitting all over this. So the news, they are suing the funeral home.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are suing the funeral home and for the Johnsons, there is no question now who discarded the organs of their son, Kendrick Johnson. They believe it's Herrington Funeral home. I'm going to read straight from this 22-page complaint. It says that they believe that what the Herrington Funeral Home did was designed to deceive and perpetrate a fraud, which used to mislead and make it difficult to establish a true cause and manner of death.

You know, it was just a couple of weeks ago, I was here to report that after an investigation from the Secretary of State's Office, they found that it was not illegal to stuff a body with newspaper and they couldn't determine who got rid of the organs.

I sat down with Kenneth and Jacqueline Johnson, Kendrick's parents just a few days ago and here's their response and their reaction to that.


KENNETH JOHNSON, KENDRICK JOHNSON'S FATHER: They are taking the focus off the real issue. The real issue is what happened to his organs. That's what we are most concerned about. They stuffed them, but he did something illegal. Where is his organs? That's what we are concerned about.


BLACKWELL: Also, you know, there is the question of clothing because that's mentioned here.

BALDWIN: The clothing he was wearing when he was found in the gym mat.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. The t-shirt and the jeans and the socks can offer some information. If there is DNA from another person or hair the Johnson's were looking for.

BALDWIN: Where is it?

BLACKWELL: No one knows. According to written reports from the transport company, the clothing was taken to the funeral home. I sat down with the attorney for the funeral who said yes, the clothes did make it to the funeral home. A couple of days later, I got an e-mail saying, no, we never received the clothes. The clothes are missing.

I reached out to the attorney for the funeral home, he said that he has not yet received this. We got it from the courthouse and once they read through, they will respond. But the Johnsons are asking the jury to send a message. They want an award and a punishment so strong that it will deter any other funeral home or crematory or any agency that deals with a body from doing this ever again.

BALDWIN: Victor Blackwell, thank you.


BALDWIN: Now this.

Just about the top of the hour here on CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Right now, we begin with the fact that nearly 1 million customers in the northeast without power. The harsh winter storm dumps heavy snow and ice and freezing rain and the pictures tell the story here. The worst outages in Philadelphia were ice coated power lines causing huge problems. Nearly 600,000 people there are without power. Outages by the way in the Philadelphia area are expected to rise.

Kansas authorities announced a third death related to storm conditions. A 58-year-old man passed away last night after a traffic accident. The northeast getting stocked with up to a foot of snow, a state of emergency declared for both New Jersey and New York thus far --