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. JDQ

    Does anyone vet remarks by the GOP these days? Seems they are suffering from terminal foot in mouth disease.

    October 20, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. Eric

    Do the Republicans respect anyone who isn't white?

    October 20, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. David

    This is just another side show from the party of grumpy white men. They're GOP and they just can't help but show their true colors. It's pretty sad.

    October 20, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Ken

    It's the GOP standard. Insult someone or some group of people and then make a half-hearted apology. In the meantime, they get out the message they want their lunatic base to pickup.

    October 20, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. Anonymous

    all i,m about is people doing the right thing whether rep, dem, ind, and the people in charge right now are a disaster starting with this so called heath care ,rest assured once this gets passed we are f.cked

    October 20, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Gary

    This is why we need a 3rd party....the fiscal responsibility of the Republicans with the sensitivity of the Democrats.

    October 20, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. joann

    Will these guys ever learn?

    October 20, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Mike, Albany

    Once again, South Carolina embarrasses itself and the nation. Once again, the GOP shows its true colors. I was a republican some time ago, but I have long since abandoned this train wreck of a party. I doubt that this loser Ulmer sincerely believes what he said in his apology.

    October 20, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. The GOP is the love-child of Voldemort and Vader

    Well, they've offended just about every OTHER group ... it was only a matter of time before they got around to the Jews.

    October 20, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. AEK

    Say something rude, insensitive, or so totally politically incorrect. Get caught. Apologize.
    Say something rude, insensitive, or so totally politically incorrect. Get caught. Apologize.
    Say something rude, insensitive, or so totally politically incorrect. Get caught. Apologize.
    Say something rude, insensitive, or so totally politically incorrect. Get caught. Apologize.

    Republicans, gotta love 'em!

    October 20, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. Sea.gem

    More double-standards...

    October 20, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. D.

    There is a saying about Jews, and they should have also said that this saying is "actually, about Jews being smart in fiscal matters and possibly otherwise," and that DeMint is applying this traditional strategy in securing this nation's financial future. The praise which they actually meant, is indeed too implicit and thus not in place, you want to signal smart strategy, say it! Otherwise, people will be offended (sensitivity to how this stereotype has been used is also in place).

    October 20, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Former Republican

    I am sorry – I do not want to commit the same error of making broad nasty generalizations..

    But, while the judge that last week refused to marry an African-american with a white was from neighboring Louisiana.. the congressman (Rep. Wilson) showing the greatest disrespect to the President of United States both during and after yelling out "you lie" as the President was addressing our nation (afterwards denying having any racist bias) was indeed also from South Carolina..

    Thus, I have to say, it is quite obvious this neighborhood needs some serious intervention as far as battling racism that obviously is not just an integrated accepted part of conversation and thought, but down-right rapid there.

    October 20, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Eddie B.

    The GOP is really becoming a party of far right radicals with a message that anyone other than white americans are not american and do not want what is best for this country. It is pretty sad because this is isolating moderates and minorities from the party. The whole treatment of Barack and Sotomayor was unbelievable. Some of the things people were saying were downright racism and ethnocentrism.

    October 20, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. Sgt. USMC

    WHAT? nooooo. Who? republicans? That couldn't have come out of their mouths. What a SHOCK. LOL

    October 20, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. Keeth in California

    What is in the water in South Carolina that their politicians keep drinking?

    October 20, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. Mountain Dude

    The GOP isn't bigoted they just think it is fine to have posters with Obama in black face. They just blame all our fiscal problems on illegal aliens and Obama not Bush's 8 trillion debt. They think the main problem with healthcare is illegal aliens too. Now they are just telling us that Jews are tight with money. See the GOP isn't bigoted they are extremely bigoted and ignorant.

    October 20, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. Betsy

    Those Republicans just keep going down, down, down since Predident Bush left office. I am ashamed that this has happened. Is this bashing?

    October 20, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. cyerthugin4life

    Not all jews are penny pinchers, some do waste money when they have to, even thou most of cheap with their money

    October 20, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. Noah

    I couldn't find anything offensive here. Come on guys, stop whining and just move on.

    October 20, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. Thaddeus Stevens

    Sanford, Wilson, DeMint, and now Ulmer–from the same state that brought us John C. Calhoum, Preston Brooks, and Strom Thurmond. What a legacy!

    October 20, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. Brian MacDougall

    His only "error" is letting slip his true feelings. I'm sure he has lots of "Jewish friends" and probably "entertains Jews" in his home. But he is most emphatically NOT anti-semetic.

    But the best part? He tries to absolve himself by saying he "quoted a statement which I have heard many times in my life." Meaning he's been paling around with anti-semites, but he himself is not an anti-semite. Not. An. Anti. Semite. Did I say that already? Is it sticking yet?

    October 20, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. I Support President Obama!

    Every day we see more and more evidence how the gop are bigoted, narrow minded racists. This is who they are people. Wake up!

    October 20, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. Former Republican

    Oh, and to add to my earlier comment – thinking about it: it was a catholic priest in South Carolina that during the Presidential election called out for it to be "a moral sin" to vote for Obama. And I believe the priest that made headlines last month telling his congregation that he wishes death over Obama – is from racist South Carolina too. Oh my

    October 20, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. Debra Austin, Texas

    What is this, a daily confessional by the GOP? Almost every day we hear Republicans say outrageous things only to apologize the following day. Is it intended or are they just plain stupid? I'm beginning to think it's the latter. What buffoons.

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