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Roll Call

Incoming Chief of Staff Hopes to Put Song Parody Behind Him

Chip Saltsman, who destroyed his 2008 campaign to become chairman of the Republican National Committee by distributing a racially insensitive song parody, is returning to the national political scene as Rep.-elect Chuck Fleischmanns chief of staff.

The former Tennessee GOP chairman said Tuesday that he shouldnt be judged by his one political mistake and that he hopes it doesnt affect his boss, a Tennessee Republican.

You Google my name and that comes up, and it makes me sad because its certainly not who I am, Saltsman told Roll Call. It doesnt define me at all.

Satirist Paul Shanklin wrote the song Barack the Magic Negro, which is set to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon, for The Rush Limbaugh Show. Saltsman said an aide sent a Christmas CD that included the track to fellow RNC members in 2008, while he was running for the RNC chairmans post. In the aftermath of the CDs release, he was unable to assemble the support needed to get on the RNC ballot.

I never saw the CD, he said, though he took responsibility because it came from his office. I was completely embarrassed about it when it was sent out.

Saltsman has worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, as well as for Sen. Bill Frists political action committee during the Tennessee Republicans tenure as Majority Leader. He also managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabees campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Saltsman has been an adviser on Fleischmanns campaign and has been helping him assemble his staff. The two worked together on the 1994 Republican sweep of Tennessees two Senatorial seats and governorship.

Saltsman said he was hesitant to take the chief of staff job, but not because of the scandal he wasnt sure whether he would enjoy working in the House. Although hes still unsure, he decided Tuesday to come on board, he said.

He plans to bring his perspective and knowledge of Beltway politics to Fleischmanns office. And maybe he has learned a thing or two from his scandal, he said.

One of the things I learned is to make sure to check everything that goes out in your name, he said. Thats a great thing to have learned if youre working for a Congressman.

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