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. krissy

    yikes, south carolina again? i know which state i'm never visiting...

    October 20, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Bette

    Just another classic example of the Republican mindset – unless you are a white, Anglo-Saxon, ultra-conservative Christian, you don't meet their exclusive standards.

    October 20, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. juge

    Stupid but revealing. Prejudiced people always walk into their own trap by opening their mouths or penning opinions that reveal their souls. Unfortunately there are too many who are biased and so many who feed into this bias – sometimes in code and this time straight up.

    October 20, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Matthew Mack-Adoh

    The questions here is "What is wrong with the South Carolina Republicans Or Are most white Republican in South Carolina inclined towards racist statements or behavior? This is turning out to be such a negative place to live.

    October 20, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. carl

    What's the big deal? Jews are historically the money changers and lenders, hence the names GOLD and SILVER as last names, to name but two.

    I think we have become a nation where we cannot say anything for fear of reprisals. How about this:

    Israel is the main reason we have been destroyed as a nation, and the jews here do not care on bit. Their main concern is the well being of Israel and they continue to influence our lawmakers with the threat of money withdrawal if they say anything bad about Jews and Israel.

    If the jews want to stop people from stereotyping, become poor like the rest of us, like those you treat with contempt for being gentiles.

    You are not the chosen people only the people who choose unwisely to attack anyone who gets in your way.

    October 20, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. Paul Nelson

    Fortunately he did the right thing regarding his unskillful comments about Jews. When will he apologize for that ugly bow tie?

    October 20, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Add Jews to the Republican hate list....

    October 20, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. Josh in TN

    This is nothing new for the Repukes. They are forever sorry for comments they make about different races. The funny thing is they are supposed to be so holy. I guess it's about time that someone told them that Jesus is a Jew and the bible is all about Jews not evangelicals. Fact.

    October 20, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Gus The Willie

    We all knew that racism and stereotyping within the GOP has always been there, and this is one example which now has come to our attention. It's too bad many of our Jewish friends have not realized these racial undertones within the Republican Party. We are sure this isn't going to be last we will hear of such inexcusable nonsense coming from the GOP.

    October 20, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    Most republicans are racist and antisemetic.. They call themselves 'True Christians" Hahaha! Yeah, with blood and racism on their hands.

    October 20, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. DE

    Seems RepubLIEcans are always apologizing for racist statements. Maybe it's because they are.

    October 20, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. Leanderjim

    Repubs, especially southern ones, just still really don't get it.........

    October 20, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. Rick

    oy vay ... you know, there's really no apology needed; all you have to do is take one look at the guy to see he's an idiot who can't really help himself ... so ... no problem ...

    October 20, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Donkey Party

    No problems RepubliCONS, we see how you are. Say whatever the hell you want than offer a phoney apology later. You are despicable sub-humans with a bloodlust for fear, hatred, and racism.

    October 20, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. sam, littleton, Co

    The GOP's true colors always come out.

    October 20, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. Chris - MN

    I'm curious to see how this can be twisted to mean racism on the part of Dems or Obama.

    October 20, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Evan

    The Republicans can't help it, they are racists. Isn't it obvious? Jews are penny pinchers and cheap. Obama is black and unfit to serve. Hillary is a woman and unfit to serve. The far right is like an old white man back in the 1950's. The rest of the country is moving toward a more open minded and evolved way of thinking. The Republicans are scared because they are afraid of change – they like policies and philosophies that proclaim white men are the only ones who can do anything right. My question is: have they looked around lately? Bush and Cheney destroyed our country (and a few others), their pious senators and representatives are embroiled in sexual scandals, and they have nothing new to offer to voters. They are bad for the country, pure and simple.

    October 20, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. Gloria

    Just because something has been heard over and over again doesn't mean it isn't offensive. What a fool!!!

    October 20, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. barbara

    Someone should let Joe Lieberman...being a Republican has never been consisitent with minority interests,,,,
    that includes jews

    October 20, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. lejambon

    Wow, his statement is ridiculous.

    October 20, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. Charles

    It would not have been hard to make the same statement with "people" instead of "Jews". The statement would have had precisely the same meaning without the taint of racism.

    Whether or not it manifests as active hatred, racism is so ingrained in many people they can't even tell when they're making a racist statement.

    October 20, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. Carmelle

    Just showing their true colors, expressing their true beleives. Nothing wrong with that. But know that they are xenophobes. As the country is growing more diverse, they get so scared and mad. It's time to get them out of government then. Like Obama used to say during the campaign, don't get mad, just vote in 2010.

    October 20, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. Joe

    Republican from the south. Anyone surprised?

    October 20, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  24. B E in TN

    Are there any GOP members in South Carolina that are NOT racists and bigots???????? SC is a disgrace to the entire South!!!

    October 20, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  25. AndyB

    Typical comment coming from the Party of No. They simply can't hide their hypocrisy, racism and bigotry.

    October 20, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
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