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Republican's Gift Held Racial Parody of Obama

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By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chip Saltsman, a candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent committee members this month a holiday music CD that included "Barack the Magic Negro," a parody song first aired in 2007 by talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

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Created by conservative satirist Paul Shanklin, the song puts new lyrics to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon," and it is performed as if black activist Al Sharpton were singing it. Limbaugh played it after the Los Angeles Times ran an opinion piece with the same title.

"A guy from the LA paper said it made guilty whites feel good, they'll vote for him and not for me cuz he's not from the hood," the song goes. "Oh, Barack the magic negro lives in DC, the LA Times they called him that because he's black but not authentically."

The CD accompanied holiday greetings from Saltsman, a Tennessee resident who managed former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's campaign for president. Saltsman announced his bid to lead the Republican Party this month.

He did not return a call seeking comment last night. Saltsman had earlier told the Hill newspaper, which first reported the incident, that the song is meant as a joke. "Paul Shanklin is a longtime friend, and I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for 'The Rush Limbaugh Show' are light-hearted political parodies," he told the newspaper.

Another candidate to lead the GOP, South Carolina party chair Katon Dawson, drew headlines this fall by resigning his membership of 12 years in a whites-only country club, weeks before launching his run for the national job.

The incidents for both men come as Republicans are reeling from losing the presidency and dozens of House and Senate seats, and as many in the party are trying to improve relations with African Americans, who voted in record numbers for Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates last month.

Among the candidates for RNC chairman are two African Americans: Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland; and Ken Blackwell, a former secretary of state in Ohio. Neither could be reached last night for comment.

A spokesman for President-elect Obama also declined to comment.

The RNC is scheduled to vote for chairman at the end of January.


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