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. Don

    They shoud be abhorred. They are not only anti-semitic – they can't even spell.

    October 20, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Rker321

    The whole South is so permeated with racism, that it doesn't surprise me one bit. These GOP politicians, in order to continue to attract a Christian Right base, will stoop to anything that they think will keep them in their posts.

    October 20, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. VA

    It's pathetic that this type of ignorance and bigotry continues to exist in our country. Wake up and smell the coffee – 1861 came and went.

    October 20, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. Pam

    What these men did was not only anti-semitic, it is absolutely shameful!!

    October 20, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. Debbie from VA

    CNN's red meat for the day. No Palin comments so let's find something to get all the libs spun up so they can get their frustrations out spewing hatred to anyone on the right. Try reading the quote first.

    October 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. Jim

    Another fine South Carolinian, like DeMint, Wilson and of course Sanford the absent minded Governor...

    Republican = no idea, no plans, no character, no morals.

    Anyplace else in the real world these idiots would have been fired a long time ago.

    October 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. Larry

    All these Republican apologies have no real value

    Intelligent people think about what they say before they say it, and what it's repercussions are

    Ignorant, racist, bigoted people say whatever hateful thing might enter their mind, because they feel superior to all those they have no respect for, which it seems is most everyone but themselves

    So many in the Republican party are hateful racist, bigots who only apologize to keep their jobs

    THE PARTY OF NO ... sense

    October 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Tim

    Is anyone REALLY surprised that something like this is coming from the GOP?

    October 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. R

    These people say anything they want and then give a pathetic apology. They aren't sorry for their hatred of EVERYTHING, they are just sorry someone finally made a big deal out of it. We are all different people, but still Americans. I am so sick of republicans hating everything and everyone who happens to have a belief that doesn't agree with theirs. You people don't own the Country nor the world so stop butting into everyone elses business and stop trying to make rules that just fit into your narrow minded views. Whether it's Jews, Catholics, black, hispanics, Muslims, women, whatever, we all have a right to be on this planet and in this Country and you're just going to have to accept that. We contribute so much more to society than you and your hate mongering cohorts do.

    October 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. File under "Sarcasm"

    Another "open mouth, insert foot" instance that everyone is quick to jump on.

    I think if I were Jewish, I'd be more upset if he used that group as a stereotypical example of the Democrats' profligate spending on earmarks as opposed to the antithesis of that.

    October 20, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Larry from Apex, NC

    This is SUCH a South Carolina/Republican comment. Really, South Carolina is the laughingstock of the nation. Wave that Confederate flag, boys!

    October 20, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. Jon

    This is so rediculous. All you have to do now is live and you will offend people. Ironically, I think of "penny-pincher" as a compliment. Would you rather be called a spend-thrift? People just LOOOOOVE to be offended and make a stink about everything. Tells more about the person who is offended than the one who is doing the offending.

    October 20, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. HarryB

    When being a racist and being anti-Semitic is so ingrained in a person, as it is among many born and bred "Good Ol Boys", the words just tumble out, don't they? How about making a significant contribution to a good cause, to prove that you're really sorry? Save enough, though, to take a course in Spelling.

    October 20, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. Richard DeCrescenzo

    This is yet another clear example of a political party, the GOP, that is out-dated and lost in a time long since forgotten by the vast majority of Americans.

    Frankly, I am still quite surprised when I read comments like these and think to myself, "Are these people visitors from the 1940's"?

    October 20, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Duck Fallas

    I said y'all was savin' money, ain't that a compliment?

    October 20, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Dave

    What's up with South Carolina?

    October 20, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Erik in Houston

    We should have let South Carolina go when we had the chance in the Civil War. For instance, this GOP county chair making fun of Jews, GOP Rep.Joe Wilson yelling at the President, former SC GOP activist Rusty DePass saying a loose gorilla was one of Michelle Obama's relatives, Strom Thurmond in general. They're dumb enough to make fun of all of these people, but they have repeatedly elected the kind they seemingly hate, i.e., Senator Lindsey Graham, a "confirmed bachelor" – yeah, right.

    October 20, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. Kevin

    Another 'Carolina' Republican exposing his true self...nothing but ignorant, racist, hicks trussed up D. C. suits (actually, a Seersucker in this case...go figure)...South Carolina must be proud. Stay off the 'shine' boys!

    October 20, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. Constantly Amazed and Disgusted

    Can't imagine why Jews are generally suspicious of the GOP...

    October 20, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. Jason

    Joe Wilson, Mark Sanford, and now Jim Ulmer. South Carolina Republicans strike again!

    October 20, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. nomoredics

    These people are so tone deaf.

    October 20, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  22. Ray

    They should both resign. Such comments are not acceptable.

    October 20, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Jay

    Biting the hand that feeds. You have to be utterly stupid to do that. Then again you are a Republican so it's not surprising.

    October 20, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. Danny

    I'm a Democrat, and all this drama is unreasonable. The guy was right. You maximize savings by watching the little things. Jewish people as a whole here in the U.S. for the past few decades have been able to successfully apply that logic.

    October 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. erin

    wow, these repubs can't seem to keep their feet out of their mouths!

    October 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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