Politico reports that RNC candidate Chip Saltsman's distribution of a song called "Barack the Magic Negro" hasn't killed his chances -- in fact, the scandal "might have inadvertently helped" him win. Most of Saltsman's rivals for the chairmanship have condemned his actions, but other party members are rallying to his side.
Four days after news broke that the former Tennessee GOP chairman had sent a CD that included a song titled "Barack the Magic Negro" to the RNC members he is courting, some of those officials are rallying around the embattled Saltsman, with a few questioning whether the national media and his opponents are piling on.
"When I heard about the story I had to figure out what was going on for myself," said Mark Ellis, the chairman of the Maine Republican Party. "When I found out what this was about I had to ask, 'boy, what's the big deal here?' because there wasn't any."
Alabama Republican committeeman Paul Reynolds said the fact the Saltsman sent him a CD with the song on it "didn't bother me one bit."
Republicans say current RNC chair Mike Duncan is only hurting himself by denouncing the song, while Ken Blackwell improved his position by defending Saltsman:
Indeed, in a fluid race in which six candidates are vying for the votes of 168 members, both Blackwell and Saltsman stand to benefit from a backlash to the flap.
Most observers expect Duncan to lead after the first ballot, but few expect he or any other candidate will be able to secure election on a first ballot. For either Saltsman or Blackwell to win election they will likely need the votes of the other's supporters to break in their direction, along with any other committee members who are not enamored of Duncan's leadership.
In calls to committee members in recent days, both Saltsman and Blackwell have been reminding Republicans of how both Duncan and [Michigan GOP Chair Saul] Anuzis reacted to the story.
Mike Huckabee defended Saltsman, his former campaign manager, on his blog.
"Chip should have been more careful in his selection of Christmas gifts, but no one who knows him would ever suggest that he in any way would purposely disparage other people," Huckabee wrote. "Chip knows how sensitive such issues are. It shouldn't be the main factor in the RNC race."
The Republican National Committee is holding a series of debates in January where members will discuss their ability to reach out to minorities and expand the party.