October 20th, 2009
02:29 PM ET
11 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. Linda

    These illiterate and bigoted clowns are doing a fancy dance now to try to cover up their ignorance and narrow life experiences. Coming from a state that is stereotyped as being full of "rednecks", they should be especially careful to avoid at least the appearance of bigotry. Their panicky efforts to make it all better are even more pathetic than their original remarks.

    October 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. ed dangler

    These remarks are vestige of a party which resented Jews from the early immigration days from obtaining their slice of the American dream Quotas for elite universities, denial of Jews in exclusive country clubs, access to restricted housing neighborhoods and other direct and indirect actions from the top levels of corporate America still find their supporters in certain sectors of our country.

    The Democratic party, from the early days of Jewish immigration to the US, supported efforts to integrate Jews in the party, fight for access for admission to top schools and professions. This is basic reason why most Jews do not consider themselves welcome within the confines of the Republican party. Every major election shows the majority of Jews supporting the Democratic party. The actions by these two GOP officials confirms this attitude.

    October 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. Kevin Denver Colorado

    The problem with the basic mentality that gravitates towards the republican philosophy is that it is not introspective at all. It refuses to examine itself and is therefore, by nature, uninformed. I'm sure it is news to them that they are racist closet homosexuals!

    October 20, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. George

    For some reason Republicans are becoming more and more dismissive of Jewish historical struggles. Recent attempts to trivialize the holocost by stating that any current American acitivties resembles it, and to categorize not only Obama but various government officials as Nazis is just beyond the pale. The multi-millineum, historical Jewish struggle is far worse than any condition of current American life. It should be respected as such and not used as a political football to gain political points.

    October 20, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. Ed From Wisconsin

    A GOP member making a great error, this is nothing out of the ordinary! The continuation of the BUSH policies and ideas are the real great error.

    October 20, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Oy Vey

    Can't you southerners see that GOP politicians are the descendants of Civil War carpetbaggers?

    October 20, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. Naitik Vyas

    Oh another biggot from South Carolina....how shocking!!!

    October 20, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Aunt Bea and Opie

    This guy makes Goober look like a genius.Is something in the water or is it the genes?

    October 20, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  9. Marko Milan

    Just a couple of the good old boys talking in public like they do in private. Those old dogs will never learn new tricks.

    October 20, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. bc

    It wasn't just a slip of the tongue. It was an op-ed that would have been read and re-read before publishing. And for the GOP to be "...accusing critics of using the controversy for political gain" is just so laughable. Just what was intention of the op-ed?

    How does the saying go? "Stupid is as stupid does."

    October 20, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. Marine Vet

    Wow. The republican party is showing themselves to be the party of bigotry, the party of racism and the party of corruption. The scary thing is just how much racist, anti-gay and anti-semetic things we find out about them. It makes you wonder who much of that is going on that we never find out about. The country is moving forward and people like these GOP representatives of South Carolina are stuck in a sad and backward past.

    October 20, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. phyllis

    Republicans just can't help themselves, every time they open their mouths, they put their foot in it. Thank you

    October 20, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  13. Can the GOP get any worse? Yes they can!

    He made a great error in revealing what he actually thinks.

    October 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. GOP = 21st century dodo

    South Carolinian's trogloditic ways embarrass the state once more.

    October 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. John

    No offence taken ... The senator simply meant that a penny saved is a penny earned...

    October 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. confusaid

    What a dispicable thing to write! Especially for a senator! I'm not Jewish and i'm offended. Do these elected officials have college degrees or even that little thing called tact! SPEECH ETIQUETTE! Class... What have you. There I said my piece.

    October 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. Christian Values

    It's a proven fact: Republicans do not like anybody that is not White, Christian and Male. If you do not fit into all three categories, you are a terrorist according to the american taliban, aka GOP.

    October 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. evman

    The Republicans are the GOP still,.. Grand Ol' White Man Party. Their tent isn't big, and it certainly does not include everyone. What a moron Ulmer is. DeMint is a shallow individual as well.

    October 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  19. naomi

    sterotypes exist for a reason. i'm just sayin.

    October 20, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. Rick -EXREPUBLICAN, EX-Marine

    Suprised Ulmer thought that using Jews as an example for anything positive in South Carolina was a good idea. Could have skipped the "Jews" part altogether and just said rich people got that way by watching the pennies. I doubt if rich people would take offense. It's just another little sign of how the Republican party thinks these days. For them it's a zero sum game; someone or some group has to be put down before they can look good. SAD.

    October 20, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This guy is disgustingly stupid because if it weren't for Jews he wouldn't have a penny.

    October 20, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. CR

    Another glimpse at the reality of today's Republican Party. Ingrained bigotry. This is the kind of thing they would say among themselves without a second thought. They are not fit to hold public office.

    October 20, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. John

    I am not surprised at all at this attitude out of Southern Republicans. Time and time again we are seeing the true color of that party, as ultra-religious, predjudiced and venomous.

    October 20, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. TLDSR

    The Republican Party is a disgrace and an abomination. There is something putrid about these guys and gals. The Republican Parties of past decades did not make me want to shower after I hear or see them speak on issues. I think it may have started with the Newt Gingrich Crew a few years back.

    October 20, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. Ken in NC

    It's so easy to say "I'm sorry" after the horse has left the barn but that doesn't bring the horse back. The problem is that he knew the door was open when he made the remark. It's sad how today people have come to the point where they say what they mean, as ugly as it may sound or as offensive as it may be, but they do it now because they think they can ALWAYS say "I'm sorry" and that will make it all right. It doesn't.

    October 20, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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