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

RNC Chair criticizes rival over controversial Obama song

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Thought Criminal

    Whoa... are we censoring? Already? Obama isn't even president yet and I feel a new Sedition Act coming on! I hate the fact that this country has become so Politically Correct! Guess what everyone, Obama is president and he is going to get blasted much like President Bush did throughout his tenure as president [example Texas is missing an idiot]. Hating Saltsman for his "satire" [I haven't heard the song... don't really care to, but I doubt it could be that heinous] is just increasing the political divide. Loosen up and take a joke, laughter is the best medicine...

    = P

    December 27, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. wag

    And they keep wondering why the GOP Lost in November?
    Keep up the good work boys and you willl never be elected again.
    ( I hope).!
    Never Learn do you?

    December 27, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  3. Perusing-through


    Do advocates of "transparent & thinly veiled racist practice disguised as humor", ever wonder how 35,000 Black fighting servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan feel about cowards like Rush Limbaugh, Chip Saltsman, and Paul Shanklin disparaging their character back home, while nobody defend their honor?

    December 27, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. Gregory H. Brooklyn New York

    With the New Year approaching I am wonderfully HOPFUL that this kind of ignorance will not continue in the New Year. If there is one thing Nov.4th election proved, its that the majority of Americans have indeed turn the page on this kind of foolishness God Bless America, God bless all people.

    December 27, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. apostlek

    Yea, that NEGRO is now your President. At least, we can add you to the tally of Racist organization. If this is your office joke, I wonder what you discuss in the comfort of your house. Anyhow, you are to blind to see anything but the skin of a man.

    December 27, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    An addendum to pervious comment:

    This kind of bigotry shows others what the GOP accept and embrace!. Hatred and bigotry have NO place in society ( This includes Rush) .BY ANYBODY!!!

    What was he thinking???

    Chip, the laundry called, your Klan robes are ready, pick them up asap for the cross burning

    There is NO excuse for anything like this, and we will not forget this anytime soon!

    December 27, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. Not too Happy

    Someone made a comment about rap singers saying the "N" word and asked what is wrong with others saying it.

    First of all, I don't like rappers saying the word and a lot of other blacks like me don't like it. There has been ongoing debate about this, and I wish the word would go away. This still doesn't give professional politicians the right to say these words of hate. They are educated, and should know better. They should be trying to unite us and not separate the country. These words are only causing hate.

    It is down right wrong and shame on these people.

    December 27, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  8. Jack, DC

    Mr. Saltsman is not dumb, he just didn't wake up one morning and decided to send the songs to his buddies. He thought this was OK because he and his RNC buddies have shared racists and sexist remarks many times over. Its just that this time around someone outed him to get a big story and possibly some media-cred because of Mr. Obama's position as the next president. If Obama was not president-elect, we would not have heard of this story!!!!

    This sheds more light into what really goes on behind the scenes in the GOP. Its no surprise that the GOP does better in renowned racist areas throughout the country which they call "real patriotic america" than in more diverse, prosperous, and tolerant areas.

    This complements the bigotry and chauvinism Ms. Palin was screaming at the top of her lungs during the campaign -"This man does not see American as you and me see it." I wonder who the 'you' is in this statement, it sure ain't majority of Americans!

    December 27, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. Amber

    To the last True conservatives in the GOP:
    Please turn the lights out before you leave...

    December 28, 2008 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10