December 27th, 2008
02:31 PM ET
13 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. nate

    NEGRO? Chip Saltsman – you just committed career suicide. I hope it was worth it.

    December 27, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. BB

    Chip Saltsman must have taken hate lessons from Sarah.

    December 27, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. English Teacher

    Wow. This is why the Republican party is getting trounced. Get your act together, kick out the racists and haters, or become irrelevant, guys.

    December 27, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. Prof T in IL

    The RNC. Taking over where the KKK left off.

    December 27, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Angie

    I agree with BB & Nate. chip is a total loser.

    December 27, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. too late

    They just can't leave it alone. The racial undertones didn't help the republicans in the election, why not try something different. This is why the RNC can't buy enough minority supporters. Bad joke made in bad taste!

    December 27, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Salt & Pepper

    Of COURSE they are going to say it was to be satire. They "got caught" with their "pants" down. Disgusting for a supposed group of "morals". There are things that are just not funny and should not even be broached. Just because "YOU" think it is funny does not mean IT is. Have some sensitivity people. It's NOT all about you...

    December 27, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |

    With any luck the snakes within the Republican Nazi Committee will go into a feeding frenzy and when the blood clears in the water they will be extinct!

    December 27, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. DC-African, Colorado Springs, Colorado

    If the GOP doesn't learn from its past mistakes and keep preaching scare tactics then its future political visions for the country are in real danger.

    December 27, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  10. Colleen

    this is interesting...why was't Rush fired when this happened...he needs to be muzzled...

    December 27, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Anonymous


    December 27, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Oh how lovely

    If it were a racist white person song? Oh boy, off with his head and an immediate public apology. These people know exactly what they are doing.

    December 27, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. Karen

    I think Chip Saltsman did us all a favor. He has shown the true color of the RNC. People of color will never be accepted in the Republican Party. Thank you for doing us a favor!

    December 27, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. James

    As long as RNC has people like Saltsman, democrats don't have to worry about any copetition. Bad joke, bad taste!

    December 27, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. Sue T

    And you wonder why the Republicans are losing, this just puts them further down and out........if the GOP wants to get anywhere they need to lose Rush Limbaugh and his likes, they need to disown all persons like Chip Saltsman and clean up their act ASAP...........or they will never see any gains in the House or Senate, they will only keep losing what seats they already have.........

    December 27, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Empty Head!!!

    TO-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.****CHIP YOU ARE A JOKE and a RACIST !!!!

    December 27, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. Rodney in Indy

    Satire??? I'm shocked that none of those racists (RNC) get it! This is why you lost. The country has big terms!!! Keep on, RNC and in 8 years, you still won't have a chance!

    December 27, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. vic debs

    Nowadays, I loathe, despise and hate republicans while mildly disliking democrats... it's like both parties try to out do one another in an effort to be more disgusting... I got Ted Stevens, I'll see your Stevens and raise you a Rod Blagojevich, I'll see your Blago and raise you a Chip Saltsman...

    December 27, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  19. Proud American

    I now realize what RNC stands for Racist National Committe. I hear there looking for a leader. I think David Duke might be available. Idiots.

    December 27, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. chris

    I think the GOP should adopt it as their theme song. Better to put the message right out there in front when you're a bigot. Let the world know, so there's no mistaking you with those...other guys.

    Way to go GOP!
    You've done what the Democrats couldn't do!
    Ruin you.

    December 27, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. arivera

    This is just exposed hatred by the republicans. Nate is right, this is political suicide. When your fellow haters are calling you out, you know you are in trouble. Minorities like myself in big majorities see the republican party as a white party plain and simple. They will not be able to shake this for a generation. I feel sorry for the true conservatives out there. Their party has been hijacked and ruined for a generation.

    December 27, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. Mr. Britt


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

    Too Late,

    I beg to differ from you on on specific point...

    This is not an undertone at all for the RNC.

    This is right there, front and center and from the heart.

    December 27, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. change in America

    This is disgrace to call Obama a negro the republican party need to be destroy the true side show how racism the republican party are.

    December 27, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. JonnyAZ

    hmmmm.... Just nice to see the advancement of racism in America desguised as political satire... NICE!

    Hope someone tosses him into the street on his ear..

    December 27, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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