December 27th, 2008
02:31 PM ET
5 years ago

RNC Chair criticizes rival over controversial Obama song

RNC Chairman Mike Duncan criticized the parody CD Chip Saltsman sent to RNC members.
RNC Chairman Mike Duncan criticized the parody CD Chip Saltsman sent to RNC members.

(CNN) – The chairman of the Republican National Committee has become the first major GOP figure to criticize a CD distributed by one of his challengers that included lyrics from a song called "Barack the Magic Negro."

"The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party," Chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement reported by Politico Saturday afternoon. "I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate as it clearly does not move us in the right direction."

Chip Saltsman – who sent RNC members a parody CD for Christmas that included the controversial tune - defended his decision Friday, telling CNN the song was clearly intended as a joke.

(Update after the jump: Blackwell defends Saltsman)

"I think most people recognize political satire when they see it," Chip Saltsman told CNN. "I think RNC members understand that."

Saltsman is a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, was a top advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.

He is one of several candidates running to replace Duncan in the closely-contested race to lead the Republican Party.

The song, set to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon," was first played on Rush Limbaugh's radio show in 2007. Its title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column that suggested Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation's history of mistreatment of African-Americans. Saltsman said the song, penned by long-time friend Paul Shanklin, should be easily recognized as satire directed at the Times.

The parody CD sent to RNC members this Christmas, first reported by The Hill Friday, is titled "We Hate the USA", and includes songs referencing former presidential John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets.

Also Saturday, Peter Yarrow - who co-wrote "Puff the Magic Dragon" - released a statement through representatives calling Saltsman's decision to distribute the parody tune "not only offensive, it is shocking and saddening in the extreme."

"It is almost unimaginable to me," Yarrow wrote in the statement sent to CNN, that Saltsman "would seriously be considered for the top post of the Republican National Committee. Puff, himself, if asked, would certainly agree."

Yarrow, a member of the 1960s folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, was a contributor to Obama's presidential campaign.

Update: Ken Blackwell, Ohio's former secretary of state and a fellow candidate for RNC chair, defended Saltsman Saturday.

"Unfortunately, there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race. This is in large measure due to President-Elect Obama being the first African-American elected president," said Blackwell, in a statement published in Politico.

"I don't think any of the concerns that have been expressed in the media about any of the other candidates for RNC chairman should disqualify them. When looked at in the proper context, these concerns are minimal. All of my competitors for this leadership post are fine people."

If he were elected, Blackwell would be the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee.


Filed under: Chip Saltsman • RNC
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. AB

    The real GOP colors show once again. Thanks Rush Limbaugh for showing the world what a bunch of bigots, racists and hypocrites the Republican party is made up with. Now go back to your hole and take Chip Saltsman with you and while your at it grab that revolting woman Ann Coulter.

    December 27, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  2. phil68

    step down

    December 27, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. John

    The GOP has been playing the race card all too often but, now when it might cost them elections, some of them are getting sensitive.

    Live by the sword and die by the sword or some such words to describe the GOP demise. The GOP has always been the party of the rich that has used hot button issues to divide the rest of us and now some of them can't get off that train!

    How pathetic.

    December 27, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Proud American

    Wow, Republicans should be proud to still have the Grand Old Party of Racist. Now this is leadership, Vision, and a plan foward for the future of our great nation. Yes, Thank God for Republicans the Village Idiots just don't get it.

    December 27, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. Ernie in LA

    Folks, the "N" word has been around for a long time and it will be here until the end of the world. Deal with it. If you don't think that it labels you, don't worry about it. If you think it does maybe it does.

    December 27, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Amber

    Thank you Mr. Duncan. Some arrogant fools will never learn.

    Bigots are also TERRIBLE at satire. You folks should stick to what you're good at: chick tracts, and parking a 20 year old couch on your lawn.

    December 27, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. Chelle in Fla

    What an idiot?!?!? No one regardless of political affiliation is perfect, but good Lord, members of the Rebublican party has been so disgraceful in 2008

    December 27, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  8. susanspics

    DUH – you can say it is a joke a million times over. We the people don't think something like this is a JOKE. And thankfully you will keep on loosing the more you push this garbage and try to insist it's nothing or the world is just overly PC. Good riddance!

    December 27, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. MK

    Hey "Chip", we are not laughing! Take your state and go.....

    December 27, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. Jill (Oregon)

    This only confirms that the Republican Party is nothing more then bigots, racists and hypocrites. What do you want to bet that Sarah Palin thought this CD said it all.... I'm sure those who followed her at her hate rallies liked this CD too... This political party should be thrown on the scrap heap of history.

    December 27, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Mac

    Chip Salzman is stupid even for a Republican.

    First, he sent out a CD that is at least in poor taste if not blatently racist. Secondly, did he think that EVERYBODY he sent it to would be on his side??? At least one would be sure to leak it to torpedo his chances.

    Put out foot, aim well, then shoot!

    December 27, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. bb

    step down from what? he's not the chairman

    December 27, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. Republican not buying it..

    Why are these folks to stupid or uneducated to understand how this type of "parody" is hurtful and racially insensitive to all people of color in this country because of our past history??? Seriously, is this guy that stupid? and I'm your avg. white Joe the plumber and I can grasp that basic concept.

    December 27, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    These guys will roll back history if they would. Stop crying over spilt milk.The election is over. Next stop: INAUGURATION!

    December 27, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Walt

    A new recruiting slogan for the RNC "Join the RNC and learn to Hate!!!!

    December 27, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. Darrell

    The RNC should be ashamed of themselves if they do not denounce this idiot for his racist song. A song that children love to sing and he took it and made it ugly. The RNC needs to stand up and stop all this mess. Wow how low can they stoop to use a children song to show their racist views. This makes me sick and I am waiting to here Sen. McCain denounce this or I will be sending him an email to get out and put this guy in his place. Phx, AZ

    December 27, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. Racist Stuff

    The whole GOP is a dysfunctional group, Palin , Joe Six pack, the list goes on, bunch of yahoos that make the rest of the world wonder what we are electing for politicians

    December 27, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. Sabrina

    That's what I call political suicide. Not very smart by any stretch of the imaginiation. Would have not been more beneficial for Chip to send a CD with ideas about how to improve the country, work together, solve the problems which are facing the US? Instead, let's send out something really pointless that doesn't help the economy, the environment or morale. As an outsider looking in (non-American, but a person who cares deeply about the well-being of the US), it is very sad to see people hurting, ridiculing and demeaning one another.

    Don't you have bigger issues to deal with?

    December 27, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Gohi

    I'm calling on every minority, RNC is a big snake of racism, a demon of division, wherever you are,never vote for this party. Don't be fool, the Republican Party is held by Nazis decendants

    December 27, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. whitey

    Sure, about as racist as when Old Yeller, Dean, jokes about the ethnicirt of the servers at the Dem function.

    December 27, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. Tony in Maine

    Whyizzit that every time a Republican gets caught with foot in mouth, he or she claims it was just a joke and the rest of the world is too stupid to get it?

    And this is the party of personal responsibility?

    Chip, I hope you're elected. It will be the first honest thing Republicans have done since Florida.

    December 27, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. Chuck

    I listened to the song about ten times last night and even though it was meant in picking at Al, Jessie and others I still thought it was in appropriate for the times right now. The GOP is trying to rebuild there image and this surely didnt help. even though I myself cant stand the foundation and principles of the republican party, it was a huge and stupid mistake that should have been apologized for instead of trying to find some good in it.

    Think about it..........who says Negro these days? Nobody.......well okay nobody. And when you say a word like that, it takes people minds back to a time in the U.S. when Negros were looked down upon. Republicans need to just stop doing everything, get together and make sure nothing stupid like this gets out again!

    December 27, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. dragonfly777

    People thought that the online game of throwing the shoe at Bush was funny. What is the difference?? You reap what you sow. The crying, poor Democrats have yet to reap what they have sown for their viciousness during the election. Forgive and forget? I don't think so..

    December 27, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. redhead from Toronto

    Surely nobody is surprised by this, talk about keep shooting yourself in the foot. How is it possible a party can espouse God and Morality as their platform and still be living in the dark ages when it comes to Unity and Equality of all men. There must be some good people in the Republican Party, I hope they are feeling as ashamed of themselves as I am feeling for them, Happy New Year to everyone.

    December 27, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  25. Peggy Lucas

    What do you expect from a Republican? After all they are the party of "family values" and most important, lies and slander. That is what we have had to put up with for the past 8 years. We will finally have a President who cares about ALL Americans not just the top 10%.

    December 27, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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