December 27, 2008
Categories: RNC Chair
Blackwell defends Saltsman
Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state who appears to be leading in the race to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, is defending a rival who distributed a CD containing a song called "Barack the Magic Negro," and dismissing criticism as a sign of media "hypersensitivity" to race.
The rival, former Huckabee aide Chip Saltsman, came under fire today from the sitting Republican Party chairman, Mike Duncan, who said he was "shocked and appalled" by the move, Mike Allen reported.
"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, who would be the first black RNC chairman, in a statement forwarded to Politico by an aide. "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."
The Republican Party is struggling to find support from non-white voters, and some of its leaders have called for a new sensitivity to race and racism, allegations of which have surfaced before in the insider-dominated contest to chair the GOP. Saltsman has defended the song as a "light-hearted" parody.
Another candidate for the job, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, condemned Saltsman's remarks, which he said in an email are "not my idea of appropriate humor."
"In my opinion, this isn't funny and its in bad taste," he said. "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."
UPDATE: One of the RNC's three black members writes an open letter to Saltsman:
Racist actions and deeds have no place in the party. The lack of sensitivity in understanding the historical election we just had and the challenges this nation faces as we must bind our wounds as well as bring our people together requires that we set aside our biases and search out those constitutional principles inherent in our nation's foundings and our parties operation which must undergrid us as we move forward.