December 29th, 2008
10:44 AM ET
2 years ago

Most of Saltsman's Republican rivals slam Obama parody

Shanklin’s album is stirring new controversy among conservatives.
Shanklin’s album is stirring new controversy among conservatives.

(CNN) – Republican Party reaction remains divided over the decision of a candidate for party chairman to distribute a CD that featured the parody tune “Barack the Magic Negro,” with the majority of Chip Saltsman’s political rivals criticizing the move.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan – battling to keep his job as head of the party – was the first prominent member of the GOP to criticize Saltsman for sending committee members the song.

Watch: Saltsman's CD makes waves in the party

"The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party," RNC Chairman Mike Duncan said in a Saturday statement.

"I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate, as it clearly does not move us in the right direction."

Michigan party chairman Saul Anuzis also questioned Saltsman’s judgment. "In my opinion, this isn't funny and its in bad taste," he said in a statement. "Just as important, anything that paints the GOP as being motivated in our criticism of President-elect Obama by anything other than a difference in philosophy does a disservice to our party."

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer – who has reportedly been weighing a run for the party’s top spot, but has not officially announced a bid - released a Monday morning statement praising candidates who have weighed in against the "racially-insulting song."

“As the GOP Chairman in one of our nation’s most ethnically and culturally diverse states, I am especially disappointed by the inappropriate words and actions we’ve seen over the past few days," he said. "I am proud of those party leaders who have stood up in firm opposition to this type of behavior."

"Actions such as the distribution of this CD, regardless of intent, only serves to promote divisiveness and distracts us from our common goal of building our party."

Saltsman sent RNC members the parody CD "We Hate the USA" for Christmas, which includes the controversial tune. He defended his decision Friday, telling CNN the song was clearly intended as a joke.

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

Saltsman, 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 the 1960s pop hit "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 CD includes parody songs referencing former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets.

Ken Blackwell – on of two African-American candidates for party chair – agreed with Saltsman’s assessment, defending him in a weekend statement. "Unfortunately, there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race,” said the former Ohio secretary of state – who, if elected, would be the first black chairman of the RNC. “This is in large measure due to President-Elect Obama being the first African-American elected president.

“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."

But some younger members of the party were less understanding, as the debate over the satire spread through conservative circles. James Richardson, the RNC’s online communication manager for the 2008 cycle, called Saltsman’s move “quite the revealing faux pas.”

“Granted, he didn’t pull a George Allen and personally call Obama a ‘magic negro,’ but sending a CD with those lyrics shortly after electing the first African American President – one supported by nearly 97% of the African American community – shows a serious lack of judgment, tact, and the necessary level of racial sensitivity expected of public officials,” wrote Richardson, a Red State contributor, on conservative blog The Skepticians.

“And while I’m sure Saltsman doesn’t espouse racist sentiments, this will undoubtedly be spun as an angry, white Southerner stoking the flames of racial tensions after losing to a minority candidate. Hell, why don’t we go ahead and give ‘em the other 3%, too, Chip?”

Most of the candidates for RNC chairman – including Saltsman, Anuzis, Blackwell and Greer – will face off in one week in Washington in a public debate sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. Duncan, who has been invited, has not yet confirmed his attendance.


Filed under: Chip Saltsman • RNC
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Amy from Michgan

    I had never heard of Chip Saltsman before this story. I googled his picture and was not surprised to see that he is a chubby, pasty man.

    Please, RNC, if you want to survive, do not elect Saltsman to head up your party. His Christmas gift represents a lot of what is wrong with your party, and I beg of you to choose a leader who will take the party into the future with a new vision.

    December 29, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. J.C.

    Nobody hates USA so much that they would stop registering themselves on our Visa Lottery website for a slim chance of becoming one of us. I think most people are just jealous of us blindly. We have got problems, but we are still the envy of the world. They hate the USA, possibly because we don't let them all come.

    December 29, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. I want to be under the sea

    Why are there so many racists in the GOP?

    December 29, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. Rachel

    I thought the elite was past such enuendos! Poor taste and poor judgement and just plain stupidity is still hanging around the RNA. When will they ever learn. They deserve to be the losers!

    December 29, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. That's not funny

    At least he didn't say he was head Negro in charge.

    December 29, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  6. ml - California

    Republicans – you are digging yourself deeper with this trash!!
    Nothing better to do with your time???
    How about all of the crticial issues in this country and the terrible wars in the Arab world?
    How about respecting Obama, since he is days away from becomming our next President?
    GET A GRIP!!

    December 29, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  7. carol

    It still shows the ignorance of the Republican party, Limbaugh is just a useless waste of space anyway and if he had a brain he would be dangerous.
    I don't think it's appropriate at all, because you can be sure if it were a song written about McCain if he were President and it was negative, all hell would break loose from the Republican side.
    My thought here is really small minds can't hold too much information at one time...so I guess a 2/3min song is the best we can hope for!!!

    December 29, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. therealist

    At least republicans dont' quit the church in two faced fashion to reject one preachers race baiting style.

    December 29, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Sue T

    as long as Saltsmans and those who think and believe like Saltman, Limbaugh, and the rest of the far far right then the Republican party is done, over, .........never to hold any more seats in the House or Senate, never will you have your foot back in the White House.....it is over for all of you unless you lose the losers in your party that are holding you back.........CHANGE that's what it is all about.......and unless you are willing to make some BIG CHANGES in your party, you can forget it..........

    December 29, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. Chris in MI

    This guy Saltsman is a moron. He's not worthy of ANY chairmanship anywhere, and it looks like he's a pariah with the RNC now, as he should be. If the RNC has any hope of reviving their lousy image, they need to distance themselved from this idiot. Just when America looks like it's coming together with the first black President, you've got a jerk like this coming out of the woodwork. Grow up and act like a mature adult, Saltsman. You're a disgrace who's right up there with Blagojevich.

    December 29, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  11. banned from cnn for making too much sense

    Hmmmm this post has been up here for about 10 minutes.... th4e righties are pretty quiet so far.... what's wrong... haven't thought up the perfect defense of the indefensible yet?

    i'll give it 5 more minutes.... and the spinning will begin.

    December 29, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    Mr. Saltsman appears amuzed by such satire; however I believe that such actions only bring deeper divisions amongs americans of all ideologies and beliefs. this is a person that is running for a position on a national political party, a party that should be concentrating on their ideals and how to best inlcude more American's in those ideals. I think that his judgement was very poor and in bad taste. his image will be tarnished and one day he will look back at this as a big mistake. Rush Limbaugh does it to get publicity good or bad, when you are the Chair of a Major party; you should be looking at building your coalition not a ruining your poilitcal career. The GOP is in serious trouble.

    December 29, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Moe, NY

    The Republican Party, as it stands today, is disgusting to put it mildly. There is no longer room in America for these racist, hate mongering, ignorant politicans. One would have thought that they learned a lesson from the past election, but apparently not!

    December 29, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. Apples for sale

    Wow the republicans are now imploding.How was Mike Connell?

    December 29, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  15. Right wing nut job

    See what too much Rush gets you!!!!!!

    December 29, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  16. BUSH BEGONE AND 75% OF AMERICANS FINALLY AGREE!

    Republicans "shocked and appalled" at racial bigotry? Now, that is news! However, it may have been more effective to be offended when what's her name was leading the Klan, uh, stump speech rallies.

    Of course, this does have a paper trail, so I guess they HAD to feign distaste for the bigotry.

    Not suprising Saltsman is from Tennessee...

    December 29, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Fred the moderate

    I have believed this to be the platform of the republican party for a great deal of time, but this type of proof wasn't avalible until now. The republicans exhibited this behaveur from Berry Goldwater to bush's admin. Any party that the extreme hate groups adhere to, isn't a party of the future. America is moving on now, leaving the negative hatred of Lee Atwater, Sara Palin and Karl Rove behind. We want all of our people to have access, with the right to goveren their nation. I am shocked that any recording like this could be conceived let alone distributed by anyone in government. We fail because we don't come together. This type of ignorance makes sure we don't!

    December 29, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. kavita

    This CD goes to show why I cannot vote Republican. Though I fit most of the criteria for wanting to vote Republican; however, I do not because they do not accept people of other faiths and nationalities with open arms. It still seems like the good old boys club. Once they realize that being "conservative" is not only for Christians then they will see more voters like myself aligning with them. I am conservative in most aspects but cannot ethically vote for a racist party. Therefore, I still vote Democrat.

    December 29, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Disgusted in Denver

    What, he isn't an angry Southerner stoking the flames of racism because his candidate lost to a minority? He may think the song is a joke, but I think the joke is on him and the RNC.

    December 29, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. A NEW, NEW YORKER

    POOR SALTMAN, HE MISSED THE OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN

    THE NAZI PARTY & NOW HE HAS TO SETTLE FOR THE KKK.

    December 29, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Kevin B

    It is truly unfortunate that everything has to viewed through the prism of race for the GOP leadership. As long as they can keep this type of silly dialog going, the American public will continue to be mislead and misserved in a time of economic distress for americans of all races.

    It is the old "divide and conquer" technique that has worked so well for so many years. Don't fall for it, they are counting on ignorance to prevail over wisdom.

    December 29, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. jquen

    Shocked? No
    Appaled? Yes
    it cant be shocking that the rebublicans chose to create such verbal diahrea, but i am sickend by it. Unhappily, not all republicans are raciest bigots, too bad the only raciest bigots i know are all republican...

    December 29, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. Ryan

    Do not bother reading this article, Obama has won the election, so sing all you want .

    For people who think they can blackmail Obama , don't bother .
    Blago tried and failed horrendously.

    There is Hillary,Rahm and Biden onboard, these people wil eat you for breakfast if you try to harm again.

    The world has suffered enough .

    December 29, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  24. Gerard Lavallee

    Sure it's just a joke, just pure rascism.

    December 29, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. Island girl

    Unrelated to the topic but the comment section was closed for the piece under this heading:
    Rice: "People will thank Bush for what he's done".

    Will someone please give this lady a breathalizer test ASAP!!!

    December 29, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
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