October 20th, 2009
02:29 PM ET
5 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. Anon

    Typical racist repubs. Why are they still around? South Carolina MUST be the most racist state in the US with all the asinine comments coming from the government officials there.

    October 20, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Fenarkleman

    Way to go, GOP! Keep kicking people out of that tent. Yep, your chances in 2010 and 2012 look as good as Dick Cheney hopping around in a pink tutu. Is Stephen Colbert the only sane person from South Carolina? What is in the water down there?

    October 20, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. Ben in Texas

    Interesting to watch the Repugnants grovel and apologize about a relatively mild expression of a Jewish stereotype while elsewhere, the party demonstrates rabid racism against people of color. Tells you who they are interested in courting as a constituency. They're going for the money, and they're not interested in representing the large black minority.

    You'll never hear a Repugnant question Israel's treatment of Palestinians, but they'll gladly compare Obama to Hitler and encourage threats on his life. That tells me all I need to know about the Repugnants.

    October 20, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. Jon in Phx

    Classic stuff. When is the "Grand" O-L-D party going to wake up? The world is changing, and they are staying the same. This sounds like Strom Thurmond did 50 years ago. Wow.

    October 20, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. DILdingdo

    Gee, those nasty old white racist GOPer's, calling jew's penny pinchers. Anyone that would make statements such as this must be nasty old white racists, GOPer's party of NO, party of nasty old white racists! Hey, wait a second, what is the difference in the posts calling GOPer's nasty old white racists and calling jew's penny pinchers? Hmmmm, I'm gonna have to take off my Obama spin cap and think about that one....

    October 20, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Keith

    Mr Ulmer "quoted a statement which I have heard many times in my life...". Oh! So it's not racism, it's just "tradition". Got it.

    October 20, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. D. Tree

    The GOP continues its headlong rush into extremism. The official apologized, but the people he is reaching out to agree with those bigoted views.

    October 20, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. The Voice

    Another racist from the GOP, making ignorant comments, from South Carolina.

    What a bunch of primitives in S.C.!!

    October 20, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. ks

    why is it when someone breathes even a word against the jews its condemned in about 3 seconds, but every other ethnicity its perfectly fine?

    October 20, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Terry from West Texas

    I can't fault this guy, even if he is a Conservative – at least not for this. He was trying to praise not stereotype. It would be like saying "Texans think big, and President Lyndon Johnson ..." or "Women love their families, and Barbara Boxer is no exception." Those would be stereotypes, but not defaming stereotypes.

    Lighten up people. Think about each comment rather than have a knee-jerk reaction.

    October 20, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. Grahame

    Don't Ya Just love It!

    Another example of Republican hate fueled mind set..

    'The Truth May Set you Free.' but in this case...

    The Truth Will Continue To shoot the Republicans in the foot...

    This is how they think.

    October 20, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. Randolph Carter, If I were a rich man....

    Hahahahaha. What is with S. Carolina? Something in the water? What a freakshow. Republicans prove, once again, that they're a bunch of bigots. I like this part: "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." Yeah, that's nice when 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty according to figures released yesterday. Thanks, trickle down, unregulated capitalism. I guess he's trying to preserve the wealth of our country's ruling class and keep it out of the hands of us little people. Have a nice day!

    October 20, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. JrJr

    Oooops republicans only say those things behind closed doors usually.

    October 20, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. George

    I wish the Republicans would stop mocking minorities.

    October 20, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  15. Bonnie Kates Kidd

    I have always abhorred anti-Semitism myself. That's because I'm Jewish. There was no reason to mention Jews in any analogy at all except that the authors of this statement are both anti-Semitic. I have always felt that the GOP was fundamentally anti-Semitic, and here is more proof. Good luck on getting any Jewish votes next time you guys come up for re-election.

    October 20, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  16. GINA

    just the fact that the gop would even say that says everything. the gop is dispicable! i cant stand them!! anyway the gop are die hard fiscal conservatives! which means you are penny pinchers!!!

    October 20, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. Magdalena

    Just another nail in the racist, ethnocentric, paternalistic Republican coffin.

    Embrace progressive society! There are many forward thinking a.k.a. "liberal" Americans who value family and country-just inclusively and with respect for progress and difference.

    The world is not going to go back to the old status quo!

    October 20, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. JG

    Look at the suit and bow tie......that's all I need to know.

    October 20, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. slp

    Thought for the day:

    Those who scream the loudest about tolerance are usually the most intolerant.

    That describes most democrats.

    October 20, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. Dave

    Considering the GOP's racial/religious DNA, who could possibly be suprised?

    October 20, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Anthony

    Thank you South Carolina...

    -You were the fist to secede from the Union
    -You gave us Ms Teen South Carolina
    -You're gov officials KEEP the confederate flag waving proudly
    -Provided us with Joe "You Lie" Wilson
    -Now you openly stereotype Jews (like you most likely do with Blacks, Latinos, Middle Easterners, etc...but in private)

    Thank youu south for reminding us what it means to embrace (and often times reward) stupidity

    October 20, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. Padraig

    That was ignorant.

    October 20, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. diridi

    always...apology...John Ensign...Mark sanford, Joe wilson...idiots...apology...first doing wrong...then apologize...what nonsense....Bush the Idiot broke this nation into pieces financially...big fat Rush Limbaugh sang swan song...now this apology....nation is under ethical morale, and standards sabatage....wake up...pass health care reform with public option....don't fear...don't care...we need to get out of Afganistan too...just like we are getting out of Iraq...concentrate on America...Look, Asian nations are playing drama...stictures on TRADE...raise Dollar standards....too early to raise interest rate...ok...

    October 20, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  24. Albin from Staten Island

    When are we (as a nation, as a state) going to start holding members of the GOP accountable for their actions? Hom many times now have the headlines featured yet another error in judgment by some or the other Republican official! Always we are given the same half-hearted "mea culpa," and always we let them slide.... at what point can one rightfully claim that there is a deep-seeded Christian-based bias to the GOP platform, and that the hate speech it results in is tantamount to provication of hate crimes? Enough alread!

    October 20, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  25. Dawn

    Must be something in the water down in South Carolina, seems that just about every SC politician has made headlines this year with one screw up after another.

    October 20, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
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