RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Clay Aiken says being on "American Idol" helped him get name recognition as he launched his political career. But he says voters in North Carolina now see him as more than a celebrity who's trying to win votes. Aiken told NBC's "Today" show that while music has opened doors for him, he has had to overcome his fame as a singer to be taken seriously as a candidate. Aiken, who is gay, denies his campaign has downplayed the fact that he supports gay marriage. Aiken says he's trying to emphasize issues that affect voters. The Democrat faces incumbent Republican Renee Ellmers in November.