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. Al-NY,NY

    another SC politician (R) that says/does idiotic things.....no surprise there

    October 20, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    LOL... he meant nothing derogatory.... then why did he say it? WHAT A JERK

    October 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. Gerry from Cincinnati

    Is it stupid pills in the water of South Carolina or what? These guys seem to embody the closet attitudes of the "new" Republican Party. Great campaign strategy for 2010.

    Keep it up boys!

    October 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. Damien

    Just plain amazing. Is there anyone left in the GOP with any sense at all?

    October 20, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. cherrystrawberry

    so typical of GOP

    October 20, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. mo from VA

    Another characteristic of the Republican party. Just stereotype against minority group.

    October 20, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. DR

    I think it's time for a drug test in the GOP. They are under the influence of something that alters common sense! If the come up clean on the testing, then maybe an IQ test should follow!

    October 20, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. Oh, the GOP

    When will they learn? Of course, the spin is amusing. "...great and honorable people..." and "...truly in admiration..." If only the walls could talk! Do these politicians really believe that the American people are that stupid?

    October 20, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. Deb

    These politicians are really stupid.

    October 20, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. CJL

    STOP – before all of you hysterical liberals start jumping on your angry GOP bandwagon, use the small brains you have and read his actual quote above. You will realize that it is absolutely absurd that he even has to apologize for this. My question: when will we be able to just take comments as they are intended and not be so hypersensitive about ridiculous things like this. My goodness.

    October 20, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  11. Tim from Tampa

    Go South Carolina... Another Red Neck Republican shooting off his mouth before thinking. Defending DeMint"? He probably defends Sanford too.

    October 20, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. brian

    OMG what century are Republicans living in?!

    October 20, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. on the sc coast

    the pain inflicted by the elected officials in this state just doesn't stop....We've decided that SC stands for stupid citizens and are embarrassed to live here. Time to go back home where people actually have brains....at least most of the time.

    October 20, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  14. IndyVoter

    THIS IS WHY SOUTH CAROLINA NEEDS EVERY CENT IT CAN GET FROM THE STIMULUS and anyplace else to improve the educational system of the state!!...what a numbskull.

    October 20, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is just another time where stereotypes are wrong. Not all Jews are rich. Everygroup has its share of rich and poor, smart and dumb, strong and weak. I would have hope that everything like this would have faded away, but it has not. I hope that we can move on in the future.

    October 20, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. WI Vet

    wow another southern republican with foot-in-mouth disease

    October 20, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. ken

    I am stunned, shocked, amazed that a Republican would make an anti-semetic remark!
    Like the moron in Louisiana who wouldn't perform a marriage for a black man and a white woman, these clowns don't even know when they are being offensive.

    October 20, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  18. Johnny DC

    PLEASE. Read the statement in question.

    He is refering to a saying that practically praises the Jewish people for their attention to detail in attaining great financial success... and of course, the DEMOCRATS CRY RACISM.

    October 20, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. hockey dad

    The new MO of the racists like Joe Wilson, and this bozo,... bare the fangs,... inject the poison,... and then issue a half hearted apology. Way to go South Carolina,... your elected officials showing their true colors again.

    October 20, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. Craig of LA

    Republicans just cannot help themselves. Their ugly rascist and bigoted core leaks out though they try mightily to portray themselves as mainstream. Just look at his picture and you see what is left of their party – middle aged angry white people. What a sad commentary.

    October 20, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. ch

    Yet another example of GOP ignorance.

    October 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. Big Ed

    This should not catch anyone by surprise. Along with Rush, Ann Coulter and similar ultra right wing fanatics, the Republican Party is sounding more and more like the hate groups of yesteryear. The Republican Party is not a forward thinking party, it is one that seems to be bent on moving things backwards to a time of imperialism and prejudice.

    October 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  23. Robert

    Where is he from? South Carolina again? Is there something about S.C Republicans and race that they seems not to be able to control their impulse? It is sadden that in the 21st century some Republicans from South Carolina still can't control their racist impulses. They just can't help themselves. This is pathetic.

    October 20, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. Val, ky

    wow. the true face of the GOP always seems to rear its ugly head..

    October 20, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. Randy, San Francisco

    The apologies are too little and too late. The true colors of GOP come out again. Not surprising that only 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans.

    October 20, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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