October 20th, 2009
02:29 PM ET
4 years ago

GOP officials apologize for Jewish stereotype

Jim Ulmer is the chairman of the Orangeburg County Republican Party.
Jim Ulmer is the chairman of the Orangeburg County Republican Party.

(CNN) – After his words attracted national attention and drew condemnation from a Jewish state senator, a South Carolina Republican official is now apologizing for co-writing a newspaper op-ed that described Jews as penny-pinchers.

James Ulmer, chairman of the Orangeburg County GOP, said he made a "great error" in the op-ed, which he penned along with Bamberg County GOP chairman Edwin Merwin.

The piece, which ran Sunday in the Orangeburg Times & Democrat, was meant to defend South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's position against congressional earmarks.

"There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves," the piece read. "By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation's pennies and trying to preserve our country's wealth and our economy's viability to give all an opportunity to succeed."

State senator Joel Lourie, a Democrat and one of South Carolina's two Jewish lawmakers, issued a statement on Monday rebuking the two Republicans, calling them "individuals who unapologetically espouse racist and stereotypical attitudes."

He also called on DeMint and South Carolina GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd to denounce the comments.

Floyd did so on Tuesday, calling the observation "an offensive and inappropriate comment" while also accusing critics of using the controversy for political gain. Aides to DeMint have not responded to requests for comment. (UPDATE: DeMint has also weighed in.)

The Republican Jewish Coalition also blasted the op-ed. RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said in a statement that Ulmer and Merwin "have done a tremendous disservice to their party."

Ulmer e-mailed his apology to reporters late Monday. He said he "quoted a statement which I have heard many times in my life, truly in admiration for a method of bettering one's lot in life."

"I meant absolutely nothing derogatory by the reference to a great and honorable people," he said in the e-mail. "I hope that anyone and all who were offended by my comment will accept my humble apology."

UPDATE: Merwin added his apology on Tuesday morning.

"At this time I wish to deeply apologize for any material included in that letter that would be considered antisemitic [sic] in any way," he wrote in an e-mail to reporters and other Republican officials.

"I have always abhored [sic] in the past, and shall continue to do so in the future, anti-semitism [sic] in any form whatsoever. I concur fully with the apology offered by my co-author, Jim Ulmer, and likewise beg that any and all who were offended will accept my deep felt apology."


Filed under: Popular Posts • South Carolina
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. JR

    Is it a requirement for Republicans to wear bowties and make racist comments?

    October 20, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. FancySmiley from Conyers, GA

    And the big deal is? When did it become an issue to call someone or people penny pinchers? If most Americans did this then there wouldn't be so many foreclosures, defaulted loans or bankruptcy filings. The wussification of America continues.

    Please stop apologizing for every single thing said. It diminishes the value of "I'm sorry"!

    October 20, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. GI Joe

    GOP apologizes for being found out just how deep their prejudices are against MANY groups of people.

    Unless you're a "family-values-white-christian hypocrit" do NOT join the Republicans.

    October 20, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. FancySmiley from Conyers, GA

    And the big deal is? When did it become an issue to call someone or people penny pinchers? If most Americans did this then there wouldn't be so many foreclosures, defaulted loans or bankruptcy filings. The wussification of America continues.

    Please stop apologizing for every single thing said. It diminishes the value of "I'm sorry"! If you said it, you meant it – bite your tongue for no one!!!!

    October 20, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  5. Carter Landrum

    You guys in SC need to get a dictionary of the politically correct words. One can no longer say what is in one's heart.

    October 20, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. MARKPAIN

    Seems the gop in South Carolina is branching out with its hate

    October 20, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Amazing

    Geez, time for everyone to get over their phony outrage. We are way to politcally correct and everyone is offended by something. Grow up and get over it.

    October 20, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    How does that saying go (especially in religious communities, "you may be able to hide your prejudices for a while but sooner or later your true heart will betray you."

    Go ahead people of Jewish faith, put your trust in people who believe that when the rapture comes every non-Cristian "has to go" if they don't convert.

    October 20, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. Randi L.

    The "great error" these guys made was saying what they actually believe.

    What the heck is going on in the South Carolina Republican Party? The Governor with his mistress, Rep. Joe Wilson with his inappropriate outburst, and these guys. Time for the South Carolina voters to put an end to the idiocy and clean house.

    The Democratic Party should run a tv commercial statewide next year with no sound that simply flashes the photographs of all of the Republican fools and ends with words on the screen: Had enough?

    October 20, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. Greg Smith

    When someone speaks, sometimes they say things they don't really mean in the moment. When someone writes, they have time to reflect and re-read what they wrote and it can be taken as an accurate indicator of their intentions. This was a case of the latter.

    October 20, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. LacrosseMom

    The GOP is full of bigots, let the Jewish-American community beware of the GOP! Seems like this man has the foot-in-mouth disease.

    October 20, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  12. Nestor

    apologize for nothing. If the shoe fits...

    October 20, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  13. CB

    Its people like this that prompted me to move from the South. You just get tired of defending yourself around the world when you have these type of people (GOP) consistently embarrassing the entire region with their racist commentary. What's even sadder is that there would be constituents that would not find any problem with their statements. These people are not part of the New South, they are from the 'Ol South, and I can't wait for the day when people from the New South vote out all these rednecks.

    October 20, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  14. j

    Oops !!! Occasionally their TRUE feelings and closet bigoted attitude slips out.

    October 20, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. Roger

    JUST another right winger who spoke what he really feels....Demint will have no problem being re-elected in SC he is just what they like here, ultra-conservative (HYPOCRITE)

    October 20, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  16. Tony in Maine

    These people exist in a culture – conservative, not necessarily southern – that has not changed in sixty years. The JP in Louisiana who refused to marry a bi-racial couple to spare yet unconceived children rejection is also reflecting the CW common in that culture.

    As a child, I've heard the same sort of stereotyping and it went unchallenged precisely because it reflected the attitude of most white "Christians" of the time.

    Fortunately, most of us have matured. Some have not. They seem concentrated in the GOP and just don't get it. When called out, they deride the critic as being PC to deflect the focus from their own stupidity.

    October 20, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Jon

    I read a lot of comments on conservative message boards wondering why Jews don't support Republicans more. After all, they're more hawkish about support for Israel. But here we have a racist Republican politician spouting hate in public, and then he says he meant "nothing derogatory" with his comment. What a joke. Republicans are clueless, and the sooner we all stop listening to them the better.

    October 20, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. donttreadonme

    What a cheap shot CNN!

    I agree that this was stereotyping Jewish people but what is being missed is that it was meant to be a complementary statement not a degrading comment.

    He never said "penny pinchers" he said that they became rich by managing pennies not dollars. And then said his guy Jim DeMint was doing the same.

    No reference to being cheap!

    October 20, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Ad West

    What a bonehead. And nice bowtie... talk about playing into a stereotype... that of the party of old fashioned white men. Does this guy own a plantation? HAHA!

    October 20, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  20. Calidan

    Leave it alone. This is one of those INCREDIBLY RARE instances where a Republican does or says something racist, as well as one of those EXTREMELY UNCOMMON times when a ticker comment is being sarcastic.

    October 20, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. cspurgeon

    The thugs are always apoligizing....Say no to the party of no.

    October 20, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  22. Rita, NJ

    He's sorry he got caught. He thought he could use the same language he uses at home in the paper. He was wrong, and it's good that he's being called out. He owes more than an apology. He should be fired.

    October 20, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. VernisRobertson

    Is seems that Republicans like no one but themselves . White hateful men from the south .

    October 20, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. JP

    It was stupid to put in writing. My own personal experience is that it is true.

    October 20, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. Rush

    He's just sorry he got called on it. The heart doesn't lie.

    October 20, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
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