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. Tom

    Jews are quite frugal from my experience, and my jewish friends even make jokes about it, but i suppose its all about context, unfortunately many people lack the tact to know when to make such comments. When you live in SC and look like that dude, you should probably avoid playing around with stereotypes, as SC isnt exactly known for its open mindedness.

    October 20, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  2. Ant

    These are not accidental slip-ups. GOPers make these outrageous comments to rally the true believers knowing they can later 'retract' them by tossing-out a meagre apology to mollify the rest of us. These people even have the temerity to attack their critics as political opportunists for calling them out in the first place.

    October 20, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. Ron Ft. Myers

    My wife is Jewish so we hear these remarks all the time from people from all walks of life and political parties. If they want to exploit this let's back up to Hymie town remarks and Mel Gibson and so on and so on.

    October 20, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. GetOverIt

    Republicans are racist? Is this even news anymore? Is anyone really surprised by this?

    October 20, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  5. Chuck Anaheim, Ca.

    Hmmmm. They are always saying "I'm sorry" for racists comments.. But only to the people "it might have offened".

    October 20, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. Pepou

    What a surprise ! The GOP ? anti-jewish ? I thought they were only racists.

    October 20, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. Navy Vet

    Another racially tinged comment (as in "looking for the next great white hope") from the GOP that is supposed to be an oops.

    You begin to wonder, are they that out of touch that they are completely insensitive on how racially charged comments such as these are insulting at best and racist at worst.

    Apologies cease to be that, apologetic and sincere when they keep repeating the same mistake.

    October 20, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. Jack Carlson

    The statement was the truth, Jewish people keep a close eye on the bottom line – SO WHAT ! My Scot DNA is the same.
    This politiclally correct is getting nuts.
    Jack C
    WA

    October 20, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. JR

    I am Jewish and do not find their comments antisemitic. It is a commonly attributed saying that even Jews themeselves say: watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. I am no fan of these two legislators, live in another state and don't know them, and am not a Republican, but this comment has been blown out of proportion.

    October 20, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. Grog in Ohio

    Wow... the GOP continues to embarrass itself. You keep on keeping on Republicans!!

    October 20, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. Gary D.

    Just more anti-Semitism from the South! He should be chucked out of his job!

    October 20, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  12. Nick 27, So Cal

    A South Carolina Republican stereotyping Jews to make a point.. SHOCKING!!!

    October 20, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. CONCORDE

    I can not believe that the people of South Carolina have elected so many people who seem to live in the 16th century. Everytime I turn around these days one of their citizens is doing something that just seems to take us back hundreds of years.
    How can a state elect so many jerks?

    October 20, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. DJA

    Those politicians from South Carolina just can't get it right. I am proud of them showing their true colors. It definitely shows who REALLY cares about this diverse country....not the repubs!!!

    October 20, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. nola bob

    when will we start being a nation of people and not a nation of "the jews" or "the blacks".

    This is political these people are suppose to represent the people how can they do that if they still segregate us into a society of us against them.

    October 20, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  16. TexGal

    The quote didn't seem derogatory to me. I think some people look for things to be offended about especially if they can flip it for political or personal gain. Would it have been better if he had attributed watching the pennies to those that survived the depression, for example, instead of Jews...absolutely! But, he didn't call anyone a penny-pincher. That term was used by CNN. Could we all just stop wearing our feelings on our sleeves and get on with running this country? There are much more pressing problems that need to be dealt with.

    October 20, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. Minnesotan

    More Republican hate and intolerance. No surprise there. The only people they like are old, rich, white guys who agree with their failed policies and economic failures.

    October 20, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  18. Barbara Independent in NY

    They really can't help themselves can they? Sometimes it's too hard to keep it just below the surface, the racism and bigotry always manages to rear it's ugly head.

    October 20, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  19. Jay T.

    Since he's a Republican and Republicans keep us safe with their excellent foreign policies, quick decision making, and enormous biceps, I don't care. I mean, look at that stud up there. I know I'll enjoy a good night's sleep tonight.

    October 20, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  20. DW

    It seems that the comment was made in an admiring fashion.

    October 20, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  21. Citizen

    What else is new? Southern republicans and national conservative republicans with bigoted, racist, predujiced and narrow-minded "if you are not like me, then there is something not right with you" attitudes? This is not news. They just keep exposing themselves.

    October 20, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Robert in Georgia

    The Republicans just don't get it. Still...

    October 20, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  23. Richard

    Does the world need any more proof that the Republican party is an organization of racists and anti-semites? They only act with moral integrity when they are forced to do so! They're so far gone that they hardly realize that there is any thing wrong with their actions which makes them REALLY dangerous!

    October 20, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. George

    lord have mercy

    October 20, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  25. Travis

    Two things: 1) It seems from the context that the stereotype was meant as a compliment (whether such a thing is possible I suppose is debatable) 2) These are folks that are part of a county GOP board, so please no comments about how GOPers in general are anti-Semitic. That being said, the remark was obviously uncouth and insensitive.

    October 20, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
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