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

Most of Saltsman's Republican rivals slam Obama parody

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. No surprise here...

    Ahh...the RNC spreading their love of hate.

    Typical...this shouldn't surprise anyone!

    December 29, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. John

    I have nothing against afircan american republicans, I'm all for them. But why is it that they feel the need to defend the most outrageous repubilcan nutjob stunts to prove how right wing they are? You're also aloud to say that callling a black man negro is most likely racist. Not to mention the lack of respect towards the presidency.

    December 29, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. obama-mama

    I say they should vote to do away with the Republican party....It's really sad they are still living in the dark ages.....

    December 29, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    After the way the Republican party was just drubbed in the election, it is amazing to me that there are still people in that party trying to use divisive tactics to get ahead........I guess some people will just never "get it".

    December 29, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. Ken


    This is the twenty-first century!

    RNC – Give your heads a shake. This is UNACCEPTABLE behaviour.

    But thanks for letting us see the "real" you!

    December 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Heather

    Funny that now this song is bringing in so much hoop-la, especially since it was released well over a year ago. I really thought that it was a funny song...evidently some of the critics have not heard it. Even my Obama lovin sister admitted that it was quite good. Get a grip America, smile once in a while, and lighten up.

    December 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. Foxy Of Chicago

    You would think they would get a clue after 2006-2008. Did they not see the poll numbers that showed them at 25% according to Gallup? Thats worse than Bush. If they keep this up or show any opposition to working with our new president then they will be history. But after hearing the song and the some of the titles, they will never get the minorty vote ever again. Good job Chip!

    December 29, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. john from sandiego

    please honor not defame Barry the Messiah..

    December 29, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. LIP

    Let's put things in perspective. If one person denigrates a race of people, that does not make the entire Republican party guilty of racism. Let's not forget that Lincoln was a Republican and the Republicans freed the slaves and the Southern Democrats continued to keep them in virtual slavery for the next hundred years and that it took Lyndon Johnson to push legislation to finally do what many Republicans had been trying to do in a Democratically controlled congress for years...equal rights. Southern Democrats finally realized that there was a huge voting block down South and finally changed their ways and now somehow they have managed to point the Racism finger at Republicans and people actually believe this BS? Give me a break.

    December 29, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. Tylenol666

    I only have one question,

    Why do people like Saltsman still Breed?

    December 29, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  11. gc

    Can't we prosecute for hate crimes?

    December 29, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Laverne

    This is just the true heart of the Republican party which does not represent most of America. Saltsman is just a bigot who is deperately trying to keep America in a place we should have moved away from a long time ago. To send out such a CD was uncalled for and very tasteless. I hope this creep suffers politically because of this and that the American people will reject this type of crap!

    December 29, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. obama-mama

    It is pretty sad when intelligent adults carry on this way. Maybe they're not so intelligent.

    December 29, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. charlie

    It is so ridiculious that the people behind this cd actually believe that the reason Obama was elected was because of white guilt. If that is true, then why didn't Carol Moseley Brown win in '04? If white america is so riddled with guilt when it gets into the voting booth, then why didn't Jesse Jackson win in years past? Obama won cause he was clearly the smartest and most ambitious in the room.

    December 29, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. laura

    He is from Tennessee ... I don't need to read any more. I understand now .... he is from Tennessee.

    December 29, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. Lisa V

    I see the RNC members call unprecedented special meeting. Many of the members of the RNC need a good talking to: They are going to be told to 86 the racist language, jokes, Christmas CDs, innuendos and satire. The south may love this type of lingo, but no one else in the U.S. does.

    December 29, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. Independent Dave, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    I do know a couple of conservatives and, sadly, they do think this is funny and this is exactly the way they think.

    December 29, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |

    THIS IS TYPICAL RNC/LIMBAUGH BULLCRAP IF ONLY THEY COULD ALL MOVE TO ALASKA ELECT SARAH-PRESIDENT, RUSH-VICE LIVE IN HARMONY AMONG THEMSELVES IT WOULD BE JUST GREAT. TAKE ALL WHO HATE OBAMA MOVE TO ALASKA MAKE OUR DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE.
    OBAMA/BIDEN '08/ '12 !!!!

    December 29, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  19. Ron

    I think it's safe to say that anyone who regularly uses the word "negro" is racists or bigoted.
    why the Republican party wants to be linked with them is beyond me.

    December 29, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. dr.mimi de la cuz







    December 29, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. AJ

    Oh brother, what will the GOP come up with next? We've seen "Obama Bucks" containing a picture of Obama with fried chicken, and watermelon, now we have "Obama the Magic Negro." Time for the GOP to stop behaving like Klu Kluxers of the past and evolve into thinking, caring human beings.

    December 29, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. Mark

    The RNC just does not get it. It is time to put such divisive and racist strategies into the past. The Republican Party, in order to be successful, must appeal to the moderates who are the majority in this country.

    December 29, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Mesa

    Enjoy the freedom of speech as long as you can. We won't have it much longer.

    December 29, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. Noah

    Laverne- You are either delusional or intellectually bankrupt. This does not represent the heart of the Republican party despite what you try to convince yourself. This song was condemned immediately after it was heard. You and your Liberal allies were the ones who claimed that Jeremiah Wright did not represent the views of Obama so why should you now claim that this guy represents what the majority of conservatives believe? You represent the hypocrisy of the Left, that is a fact.

    December 29, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. Daniel

    It's just so disappointing that the Republican party continues to exemplify ignorance and bigotry. In 2008, they lost my vote. Siding with extreme views from radical evangelical Christians and white supremist views has made the Republican party irrelevant for most moderate Americans. Where is the dignity of the Republican party gone?

    December 29, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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