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. shirley

    I am apalled, and ashamed that there still are such bigoted people out there.
    Call it anything you want but it is still bigoted. I am white and no better than ANYONE else. Why do people always feel that they have to be superior than other people. YOU AREN"T. In fact. Obama has shown himself to be an intelligant, man who is already doing what he can to improve America. You want him to fail because then you can go on with your hate, You disgust me.

    December 29, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. B.O by any other name is still b.o.

    If this was SNL and it was a Republican they were talking about, it would probably get an Emmy!

    December 29, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  3. Irma in North Carolina

    I doesnt matter what the republicans do any more, they are on the way out any way. They proved that when they put Sarah out there to disgrace the people in the usa

    December 29, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. sed81650

    Chip Saltsman should be thrown out of politics. This is not acceptable behavior.

    December 29, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. Tammy - KCMO

    Once again risking personal attack by Proud American and the thugocracy he represents, I am appalled by the parody. It is almost as bad as the things the democrats did to Sarah Palin (not quite though). This branch of the RNC is acting like John Stewart, Al Franken. SNL, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Keith Olberman. They need to go. The democrats may want to keep trash like that in their party, but republicans don't.

    December 29, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. Mari

    Saltsman is an obvious bigot, just like the rest of the Republicans, except that they are not so blatant about it!

    Hate, lies, fear and division are the status quo of the Republicans those are their values ......... period. They tell us whom they are over and over. That's why the lost the election and will lose again and again, until the haters are out of the party. If ever.

    The McCain campaign, Faux News, Limbaugh, Hannity, OReilly, etc., and Palin are ALL haters. As long as the RNC is defined by this group they will be REJECTED by America!

    December 29, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. miguel

    This guy Saltsman is clearly an idiot and likely a racist. But I'm afraid that those of you attributing these actions to the RNC or the Republican Party either cannot read, or are just as ignorant as Saltsman. Categorizing an entire group based on the actions of one person is precisely the type of bigotry you are railing against.

    December 29, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Steve

    The Republican Party is dead. There is no way the people in this country will elect anyone from the Republican party to power again. Look how long it took for the Republican party to recover after the Depression. Every Republican running for office will have to counter two economical disasters by a Republican.
    A whole new Political party will have to be formed

    December 29, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. Tammy - KCMO

    Hey apples for sale, don't forget the Ford family and the whole Memphis/Shelby county political structure.

    December 29, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. CJ

    Total morons. I thought we had moved beyond this child like actions! The republicans wonder why people can not stand them? Great things to show our children, it is bad enough that Bush is such a selfish, moron. Jan 20 can not come fast enough.

    December 29, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. j

    Only "most". Every American should condemn this type of bigotry.

    December 29, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. Former Republican

    BY THE WAY, NONE OF US ARE COMING

    BACK UNTIL YOU THROW THE NAZIS OUT.

    December 29, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. Pat in IL

    There's good and funny satire, and this is neither. Hiding behind the word "satire" is ridiculous, lame and just plain stupid. Something that might be "funny" to a bunch of red necks in a southern bar isn't necessarily funny or even appropriate in the real world.

    December 29, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. hahahahaha

    Ruck
    Fepublicans!

    December 29, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. The Next Generation

    More trash from the Republicans. Good thing that they're so proficient at being larcenous, lying, tactless, factless manure throwers. Can't wait for them to be out of power and out of the White House so that we can regain some national honor.

    December 29, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    CNN is inciting riots in London over the Palestinian/Israeli conflict by the presence of reporters and cameras.

    Palestinians were offered a big hunk of Jerusalem a few years back and they declined.

    At that moment in time I ceased worrying about Palestinians.

    Yet another generation of rock throwers.

    December 29, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Artola

    To Ken Blackwell: No one is hypersensitive. We are just disgusted, and you should be too. Don't be so eager to win your parties high position that you're willing to sit back and ignore racism.

    To Saltsman: If this is their idea of a joke, then guess what – we're not laughing!

    December 29, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Martha

    Are you kidding me????? Hellooooooooo Repuglicans! The year is soon to be 2009. Please, please.............can't we all just get along?

    December 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. Ariana

    lol-no wonder the repubs lost. and you guys will CONTINUE to lose, because you are completely out of touch with reality! america is changing, get used to it!

    December 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  20. Brooklyn

    Seriously... Get over it. We have far to many things of greater importance...

    This is way too funny.

    December 29, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  21. carlo

    I have to say that I have lived in the South all of my life and I have NEVER met a Republican who had a clue about anyone outside of their white Christian sphere, and its really sad. I don't think that they represent all Republicans, though, but definitely Southern ones. The worst part of it is that the Republicans who are defending this are the black ones and the minority ones like the "totally in denial and boy oh boy why did I have to be black" Amy Holmes and Tara Wall.

    December 29, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. Richard Rohde

    Apalled at this story, who does this guy think he is acting like a democrat while claiming to be a republican. He should resign any leadership position he has just like Charlie Rangel resigned from the Ways & Means committee when he got caught cheating on his taxes (didn't really happen folks), or like John Stewart and Keith Olberman did when they attacked Sarah Palin (did not happen). He is probably going to get a visit from Rahm "the Enforcer" Emmanuel, or Joe "Greasy Fingers" Biden.

    December 29, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. John in Ohio

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

    Yes, I'm sure most RNC members understand lowbrow unfunny racist humor when they see it. Vote for this guy, RNC members! He'll stand up to those negroes and immigrants who want to sap and impurify your precious bodily fluids!

    December 29, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  24. billy-bayou

    there is nothing more fun to watch than a bunch of democraps with their G-string drawn too tight because of some silly negro parody.
    get a life you poor stupid frigging people.

    And carol: you're not fit to shine Rush Limbaughs shoes, you need to take the place of Monica Lewinskey under the obanas desk.

    December 29, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. MikeH

    I guess this means Tom Metzger has a shot at being elected the RNC chairman.

    But seriously, the core Republican party has become a racist, theo-facist, venal group that truly hates Jefferson's America, and has engaged in economic sabotage of the nation. This core group should be viewed as a threat to American Democracy, and treated accordingly.

    There are true Republicans, outcast but loyal to their beliefs, and they should be called upon to re-constitute the party as it was originally conceived.

    December 29, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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