WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Former Tennessee GOP Chairman Chip Saltsman, in a letter to Republican National Committee members, said he has dropped out of the race for RNC chairman.
Saltsman became a controversial figure when he mailed a Christmas holiday CD to RNC members that featured satirical songs, including one called "Barack the Magic Negro."
In the letter to RNC members, Saltsman recounted his travels around the country since the Nov. 4 election, and said he has seen Republicans making progress, but said he would no longer be a candidate for national party chairman, the Nashville Post reported Thursday.
"I wanted you to be first to know that I have decided to withdraw my candidacy to become your next chairman," he said.
Saltsman had been on the defensive after it was disclosed he sent the CD that included "Barack the Magic Negro," sung to the tune of the Peter, Paul and Mary hit "Puff the Magic Dragon." He initially refused to apologize for distributing the song, which was written and recorded by Memphis musician Paul Shanklin.
The song first received national attention when right-wing talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh played it on the air last year.
Five candidates remain in contention for the RNC chairmanship -- including incumbent Chairman Mike Duncan. The others are Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.
The RNC is to choose a chairman at its winter meeting, running through Saturday in Washington.