Chip Saltsman

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John "Chip" Saltsman, Jr. (b. March 24, 1968 from Nashville, Tennessee) is an American political operative who has served as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, senior political advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and manager of Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign.

Early life

Saltsman was born in Nashville, Tennessee to parents John B. Saltsman, Sr. and Edna Elaine Saltsman. He attended Father Ryan High School, a Catholic high school in Nashville, and then Christian Brothers University in Memphis, at which he earned his bachelor's and master's in business administration degrees. While at Christian Brothers, Saltsman was active in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, the Knight of Columbus and student government.[1]

Political career

Interested in politics from an early age, Saltsman's first substantial campaign involvement was with President George H.W. Bush's re-election effort in 1992.

In 1994, as the Republican Revolution swept Senators Bill Frist and Fred Thompson into office, Saltsman was active in Tennessee Congressman Don Sundquist's successful run for governor. Saltsman continued to work his way up through the Tennessee party ranks, becoming Tennessee Republican Party Chairman in 1998.

Despite his service with Governor Sundquist, however, Saltsman strongly opposed Sundquist's plan to impose the state income tax for the first time in Tennessee history. The income tax plan eventually failed to become law due to strong grassroots opposition from conservatives across the state. Tennessee remains one of only nine states without a broad-based income tax.

Under Saltsman's watch as state party chairman in 2000, then-Governor George W. Bush defeated then-Vice President Al Gore in his home state of Tennessee, despite President Clinton's success there in 1992 and 1996 and despite the fact that Gore and his father had represented the state in the Senate for a combined twenty-six years. With a victory in Tennessee, Gore would have become President, rendering Bush's eventual Florida victory irrelevant.

Work with Frist

Saltsman followed this accomplishment by working as Development Director for Senator Frist at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2002, where he helped Republicans regain control of the Senate after the defection of Senator James Jeffords handed the chamber to Democratic control in May 2001.[2]

Saltsman then became Senior Political Advisor to Majority Leader Frist at VOLPAC, a political action committee chaired by Frist and dedicated to recruitment and support of Republican candidates for political office nationwide. In 2004, eighteen of the twenty-two races that VOLPAC supported were successful. And, in 2006, VOLPAC helped ensure the election of Senator Bob Corker over Harold Ford, Jr. in Tennessee.[3]

Saltsman was also an important figure in Senator Frist's preparations for a potential run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and was labeled "Frist's secret weapon" by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post[4] and "a multi-talented superstar ... [who has] demonstrated uncanny, remarkable leadership in every endeavor he's undertaken" by Frist himself[1]. However, following the completion of his two terms in the Senate, Frist decided against a run for the presidency.

Work with Huckabee

With Frist's departure from office, Saltsman became National Campaign Manager for Governor Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign on February 1, 2007. Saltsman oversaw all aspects of the campaign, including political, fundraising, communications and operations, and he led the dark horse candidacy to a surprise second place in the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll on August 11, 2008 and then to victory in the Iowa Republican Caucuses on January 3, 2008. Huckabee's campaign proceeded to record victories in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia on February 5, 2008 or w:Super Tuesday. Huckabee then won the Kansas Republican Caucuses and the Louisiana Republican Primary before ending his campaign on March 4, 2008 with 270 pledged delegates.

Saltsman was nominated by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic as one of the top four campaign managers of the election cycle[5], and has since been labeled a "noted GOP strategist"[6] with "a strong future on the national campaign-management stage."[7] He is a frequent Fox News contributor.

RNC Chair Candidacy

Saltsman has announced his candidacy for RNC Chairman, after frequent mentions prior to announcing.[8]

In his bid for the RNC Chairmanship, Saltsman has been endorsed by: former Republican presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee[9], former United States Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, and Tennessee House Majority Leader Jason Mumpower[10].

"Barack the Magic Negro" Controversy

Just after Christmas, 2008, Saltsman created a stir in political circles with his gift of a controversial music CD that included a song titled "Barack the Magic Negro" set to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon". He responded to charges of racism by defending the song as political satire. [11]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Sullivan, Bartholomew, "CBUer running Huckabee campaign," The Memphis Commercial Appeal, February 4, 2008.
  2. Ruble, Drew, ""Newsmaker Q&A: Chip Saltsman," Business TN, December 2007.
  3. VOLPAC Website, Accessed October 30, 2008.
  4. Cillizza, Chris, "Straw Poll Is First Test for GOP White House Hopefuls," Washington's The Fix, March 9, 2006.
  5. Ambinder, Marc, "Off The Grid # 6: Campaign Manager Of the Cycle," The Atlantic Online, February 15, 2008.
  6. Brewer, Clint, "On politics: Frist, GOP may have last laugh in 2010," Nashville City Paper, May 12, 2008.
  7. Whitehouse, Ken, "Introducing the Political Futures Index," Nashville Post, December 18, 2007.
  8. Wilson, Reid, "As McCain Slips, RNC Wannabes Get Bold," Real Clear Politics, October 29, 2008.
  9. Huckabee, Governor Mike, "Chip Saltsman for RNC Chair", Huck PAC, December 8, 2008.
  10. Brooks, Jennifer and Theo Emery, "Saltsman acts to become national GOP chairman," The Tennessean, December 9, 2008.
  11. "RNC chairman candidate defends 'Barack the Magic Negro' song", CNN, December 26, 2008.

Wikipedia also has an article on Chip Saltsman. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.