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American Idol winner Taylor Hicks not a Republican, but ‘figuring it out’

Hicks says he is “just thrilled to be a part of the political process,” and thinks the Romney/Ryan ticket is strong.

TAMPA, Fla. — “Soul Patrol” recording artist Taylor Hicks paid a visit to the Republican National Convention’s Radio Row Thursday afternoon ahead of his scheduled musical performance this evening, and told reporters he was excited to be part of the event.

Hicks, 35, of Birmingham, Ala., rose to fame after his soulful music carried him to victory on the 5th season of American Idol in 2006.

Hicks admitted that he was not a Republican.

“I actually had (Barack Obama’s campaign anthem) ‘Yes We Can’ on my last record,” he said.

But, he said, he was still resolving his political position.

“I’m figuring that out. I’m navigating the waters,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hicks said, he was “just thrilled to be a part of the political process,” and thought the Romney/Ryan ticket was strong. He also offered some advice of his own for Romney’s keynote speech Thursday evening.

“He needs to connect with the audience,” he said. “I think he needs to make sure that his values can connect.”

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Hope Hodge first covered military issues for the Daily News of Jacksonville, N.C., where her beat included the sprawling Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune. During her two years at the paper, she received investigative reporting awards for exposing a former Marine who was using faked military awards to embezzle disability pay from the government and for breaking news about the popularity of the designer drug Spice in the ranks. Her work has also appeared in The American Spectator, New York Sun, WORLD Magazine, and The Washington Post. Hodge was born near Boston, Mass., where she grew up as a lover of Revolutionary War history and fall foliage. She also discovered a love of politics and policy as a grassroots volunteer and activist on Beacon Hill. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from The King's College in New York City, where she served as editor-in-chief of her school newspaper and worked as a teaching assistant when not freelancing or using student discounts to see Broadway shows. Hope‚??s email is