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. ran

    This party is over in it's current form and unless the party chances it will be over for good. There is no want, save some few right wingers ,for this kind of behavior in this or any party. We the people need to establish once and for all that we are the United States and stop hyphenating our selves (IE African-American, Irish-American etc.).
    This is not to say we do not acknowledge our past or heritage but until we see our selves as Americans we will always be a divided country. I do not recall any other nation who hyphenates themselves (African-Spanish, Irish-Spanish etc.). We can start the new year by clamming to be an American because it will take us all to get our country moving in the right direction for us all.

    December 29, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Nelson Colorado Springs Co

    This is America, Racism is alive and will always be here. This is not a black or white thing. Treat a person like you want to be treated ( that was a good one) people are still mad because President Obama won. Saltsman should be on the FBI CIA watch list.

    December 29, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  3. Dina-Bronx

    and they wonder why they lost the election? The "good old party" still has a long way to go before they finally "get it". Face it fellas: you have a new president; he is a democrat; and he is the sone of a black man and a white woman. Wake up and get used to the future of America!

    December 29, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. NEL E BELL

    NOT BRAGGING BUT I DID NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA THIS TIME, HOWEVER, MAYBE NEXT. AS TO THIS ISSUE, I DON'T GET THE HUMOR IN THIS, PERHAPS WE ALL SHOULD PORTRAY SOUTHERNERS AS ILLITERATES IN WHITE SHEETS AND FLAMING CROSSES WITH BROKEN DOWN RUST BUCKETS ON THE FROUNT LAWN, OR A BUNCH OF INBREED MUTANTS, THATS SOUNDS LIKE HUMOR DOESN'T IT.
    PERHAPS THE REPUBLICANS CAN REDEEM THEMSELVES FROM 8YRS OF BUSHWACKER LEADERSHIP WITH JUST CIVIL BEHAVIOR TOWARDS THEIR FELLOW AMERICANS., MAYBE IF THEY DON'T LET OBAMA AND HIS LIBERAL BACKERS BORROW AND TAX US INTO THE TOTAL POOR HOUSE I COULD ENTERTAIN A REPUBLICAN POLITICIAN BUT BASED UPON THIS CRAP STORM THEY THINK AS HUMOR, NOT LIKELY FOR MANY MANY YEARS.

    December 29, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Dina-Bronx

    and they wonder why they lost the election? The "good old party" still has a long way to go before they finally "get it". Face it fellas: you have a new president; he is a democrat; and he is the son of a black man and a white woman. Wake up and get used to the future of America!

    December 29, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. David Goldman

    THE RNC SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD & RUN

    DAVID DUKE FOR THEIR NEXT PRESIDENTIAL RUN.OR

    TRY TO FIND ONE OF THOSE OLD NAZIS THAT GOT AWAY &

    HAVE HIM AS THEIR FUTURE LEADER OF THEIR FUTURE "PARTY".

    December 29, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. NBA Writer in San Antonio

    This is one of the the reasons why the Republicans lost this election.

    People are tired of this type of satire. It's not funny.

    December 29, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. OZI, New York

    Believe it or not, He is our next president. So get over it and accept him as our President. Bunch of losers!!!!!!!!!

    December 29, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. BB

    Most of my family members are republicans, and this election cycle has brought out traits in them that were "hidden" for years and years. It is causing problems within their entire neighborhood. It's a sad day for the USA when it comes down to the sneakiest group of people I've ever witnessed.

    I sure hope it changes with the next generation. The old folks are lost to prejudice.

    December 29, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    They should all slam this ridiculous, unfunny, and downright racist song! I will never subscribe to Republican philosophies again.

    December 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Proud to be American

    See they are trying to pull the one over us .... the song is really represents the RNC and their feelings.... they do not want to be united.... and that is sad. It is sadder that someone that want to lead the RNC thinks the song is okay..... the RNC is toast.

    December 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. dallas female

    typical southern attitude.
    thank goodness that you racists republicans are becoming the minority.

    just look at the delegate maps. the blue is closing in on the red and the red needs to get on out the way.

    December 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Adam in VA

    Gross. This is the 21st century, grow up Saltsman. This goes to show just how out of touch the GOP really is.

    December 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. John

    as a white person with family members who are from african american roots I am appalled this person should be striped off all power and sent to reeducation with the rest of the GOP.

    December 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. Appalled Hoosier

    Do you STILL think that those 'left wingers' are simply playing the race card over this "imagined racism" that exists within the Republican Party?

    December 29, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. Monty Delaware GOP!!!!

    Being African American, I am more shocked that Ken Blackwell can state that the hypersensitivity that exist in this country is because Barack Obama was just elected President of the US. I would say the hypersensitivity is the cause of centuries of mistreatment, not the election of a black man for potus. Ken Blackwell should know the difference.

    The CD was at best in poor taste, which shows a lack of judgement for a person running for such an important post. At worse it shows something far more sinister. Either way, he should remove himself from the race because if Saltsman wins, the party can kiss away any shot of becoming inclusive in any way. I for one would change my affiliation to independent the next day.

    December 29, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  17. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    Ken Blackwell should be ashamed of himself. As an African-American myself, I think Mr. Blackwell should be well aware of the underlying racism in this song. It is not hypersensitivity...the racism in this song is real.

    December 29, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    What the hell is wrong with this guy. I am a republican but i don't want to be lumped in with this retard.

    December 29, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Scott

    Sounds like the PC crowd got their panties in a knot over nothing. It's satire people, better get use to it.

    December 29, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  20. Apples for sale

    Arent we all so proud of Tennessee?Bill Frist,sludge from coal,two senators on foreign car payrolls and music my dog can sing to.

    December 29, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. Jeff In Ohio

    HAHAHAHAHA. What a bunch of clowns.

    December 29, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. Liz

    I don't think even a box of Altoids would get the taste of foot out of his mouth for this one.

    December 29, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. John Anthony

    No wonder the GOP is the minority party, with jerks like Saltsman and Rush Limbaugh as members and spokespersons. These types have no respect, consideration, or sensitivity toward anyone, and are truly disgraceful.

    December 29, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Ray Fisher

    The Obama parody is yet another example of the arrogance & superiority of the Republican party which is exactly why many of us refuse to support them any longer. While insisting it is merely humor, the subject, timing and approach are not only questionable but detrimental to the teamwork required to address our current challenges. Our new President has been promoting unity and cooperation to heal our nation while the Republican naysayers have denegrated to racist, sexist, and good-ole boy rhetoric. As I've heard them spew venom against all but the WASPS in their midst I also know they will resort to any means to retain their political and financial kidnapping of our nation. While a WASP myself I find it better to fly wth others than to sting and lose my stinger in a single shot!!!

    December 29, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. From Minneapolis

    I see racism is still very much alive and well in the USA. We will never come together as Americans and a country with crap like this constantly being pushed as free speech.

    December 29, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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