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

GOP officials apologize for Jewish stereotype

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/20/art.sc.cnn.jpg caption="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. David Stein

    I find it sad how many times people in the public sector don't think enough before they open there mouths. I also think that the first thing out of a person's mouth is usually the truth.

    October 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Chas in Iowa

    Many of the long term GOP members are having a hard time tempering their racism.
    Just another reason for the GOP to take a good long look at their mantra.
    Much of what was their foundation is no longer acceptable in public view.

    October 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. JoinTheBand

    Now we know what they really think of the Jewish people.

    October 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. John

    Of course, the damage is already done, so why not give an apology, knowing your prejudices and arrogance will never change one single iota?

    Why not find scapegoats for a financial meltdown, rather than admit that six years of a Republican controlled House and Senate have spelled the end of America's greatness?

    Why not pretend to be sincere in admitting a "serious error" when you know the seed has been planted, and only another Civil War could erase your public thoughts.

    Please resign. We have enough stupid leading this country in opposition to truth and decency. We don't need any more.

    October 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. 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. To add to South Carolina's problems, all De Mint cares about is "breaking the president". This is in accord with the republican agenda at ensuring that Obama fails at any cost to the nation. I guess the GOP slogan "Country First" was just a lie.

    October 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. David

    What is up with these South Carolina politicians? There is definitley a pattern of prejudice views among the peopel of this state. DeMint, Wilson, Helms, Thurmon,Ulmer, Sanford..........just amazing..

    October 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. Independent Lady

    Wow, is every Repulican in SC a tool? What a backwards state

    October 20, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. David, CA

    Another GOP embarrassment.
    I wonder how DeMint's hunger strike is going since the CEO of Kiasser parmanente called him a "true American Hero" for standing up for wealthy insurance companies against those big bad taxpayers!

    October 20, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Mike

    In their apologies, they forget to add that some of their best friends are Jews.

    October 20, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. caroline

    Wow, South Caroline has disappeared from our list of places we will visit with an eye toward retirement............they just don't like anybody there..........probably wouldn't like us either!

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

    what is with the people of South Carolina – they elect these idiots and have no clue as to what is going on in the rest of the country. I think we should ask them to leave the union.

    October 20, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. Wes

    So he had to apologize for calling Jews penny pincher. That shows the influence of Jews in USA. The other day a jewish scientist was arrested for selling national security secrets to Isreal,,but ballon boy was a much bigger story..enough said!

    October 20, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. hayden zeke

    Fairly typical Republican – "What'd I say? What'd I say?"

    October 20, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  14. Jim Q.

    Can these guys be any more out of touch? Of course there are those who still naively think the Republicans don't have a major problem with race and religion, but the hate bubbles up.

    October 20, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. Keith

    Apoligize for what?? Why is telling the truth a cause for an apology? What's wrong with being a "penny pincher"??

    October 20, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. Bob in VA

    What is wrong with these people? Message to GOP: You want to be a southern-based party, this is what you get.

    October 20, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. Obama supporter

    Republicans step in it again. No surprise there.

    October 20, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Jessie

    They apologized because that is the last minority group they haven't completely turned off, but I see they're doing a good job of fixing that.

    October 20, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. Rick from Portland

    Same story different day. It is no newsflash that those who are still calling themselves Republicans seem to be uniformly ignorant, racist and hateful I honestly don't see how ANYONE who ISN'T an ignorant racist hateful fearful bigot could continue to align themselves with this party, which is why they are getting more and more overt in espousing these sentiments. Anyone who WAS in the Republican party that had any sense has long since left, so now there is no one left to challenge these haters, which in turn empowers them. The Republican party has truly become the party of HATE!

    October 20, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. S Callahan

    Take a deep breathe. I really don't think he meant harm. He really hasn't understood the Jewish concept though...it's not because of their own doing they have success, it's because of God's promise for their blessing.....

    October 20, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Arlene Farrow

    You cant convince me that the comment was innocently said. Anybody with half a brain knows that the comment was a derrogatory comment about Jews. The apology is strictly a political maneuver. Anti semitism still runs rampant, and most esecially in the south.

    Shame on you James Ulmer!

    October 20, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. RobK

    It is best not to use any group affiliation when making comments like these, even if they are spoken in admiration. Someone will take offense.

    October 20, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Jon

    Republicans wonder why minority groups in this nation, especially Jews, gays, African Americans, Latinos and others vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. This story provides an answer. The Republican Party's domination of the South began the moment President Johnson gave African Americans civil rights, and they have continued to use race baiting and fear mongering to keep their grip of power. They are completely out of touch with the changing face of America.

    October 20, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. Ivan

    Where's the calls for his resignation?
    I wonder will there be comdemnation on the right-wing talk shows.

    October 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. J.Crobuzon

    He was going to welsh on his apology, but they jewed him down.

    October 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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