RNC CHAIRMAN ‘APPALLED’ BY ‘MAGIC NEGRO’ CD…. Yesterday afternoon, The Hill was the first to report that Chip Saltsman distributed a CD containing “Barack the Magic Negro” as a Christmas greeting to members of the Republican National Committee. Saltsman, Mike Huckabee’s former campaign manager and former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, used the music as part of his campaign to lead the RNC.

Despite the controversy that ensued in response to Saltsman’s offensive choice in music, Republican officials were noticeably silent about the issue. That changed this afternoon, nearly 24 hours after the news broke.

Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan issued a statement Saturday distancing the party’s leadership from one of the GOP’s best-known operatives, Chip Saltsman, who distributed a CD containing “Barack the Magic Negro” as part of his campaign to be elected chairman of the Republican National Committee next month.

Duncan, who has served the campaigns of five presidents dating back to Richard Nixon, is seeking reelection as the party’s 60th chairman in a hotly contested race that includes Saltsman and several other viable candidates.

Duncan’s statement, in its entirety, read: “The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party. I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate as it clearly does not move us in the right direction.”

It’s hard to pick the most obvious embarrassment for Republicans here. That the party’s favorite right-wing blowhard (Rush Limbaugh) would promote such a song on his radio show? That a candidate for RNC chair would use the song as a Christmas gift? That the candidate for RNC chair would assume that Republican Party leaders would enjoy it?

That Mike Duncan would wait 22 hours before saying anything about this, only denouncing Saltsman — a rival for his job — after the Politico noted that party leaders had only offered “odd silence” in response to the story?

Or that Limbaugh began promoting the song in March, the party said nothing, and Republicans continued to appear on his show as if he were a respected conservative leader?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.