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. in the middle

    They are never sorry. I rarely hear a Republican apologize for being a idiot. That party has a problem with minority groups and women. I am surprise why any of them ever choose to be a Republican, they don't want you there..

    October 20, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. Alex

    It never fails to amaze me how stupid are our elected officials. Do they not realize that everything they say and do as public servants is (surprise!) public? They should treat every press release, op-ed, etc., as if its intended use were the top story on CNN or on the front page of USA Today and conduct themselves as if they were (and probably are) being recorded for a YouTube posting.

    October 20, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Ray

    Come on, South Carolina.

    Again? The people of South Carolina need to get a muzzle on their elected officials.

    October 20, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. manhandler

    I'm not a Republican....but, jeez....you people really DO dig to find ANYTHING to put out there to make the Republicans look bad. Keep investigating....you probably find that the 9 yaer old kid down the block said the same thing. When you do, make sure to headline it, 'cuz I definitely want to know.

    October 20, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. ~~ July ~~ ( Working HARD to make TX Blue )

    AND he should apologize for how he is dress in that picture! jajaaaa

    October 20, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. DJ in TX

    Personally, I didn't see anything that offensive in what the Congressman said. Based on the context of the, I think it is clear that he meant nothing offensive. Was it a bad comparison, yes.

    What's becoming of this country? Why are we looking for every little thing said to be under scrutiny? We have become a polarized nation.............or have we been this way for a while and it is rearing its ugly head now?? Something to think about..................

    October 20, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. Butch Dillon

    This time, SC republicans apologize, but it is completely meaningless. They are not apologizing for the sentiments they harbor, they are simply saying they are sorry their anti semitic outlook got into print and subsequently into the public domain. This offering is taken directly from the play book of criminals who apologize for getting caught. What Ulmer, Merwin and the rest of the republicans are remains abundantly clear: they are anti semitic, xenophobic, racist white men in power.

    October 20, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  8. John A.

    Is there some way to suspend South Carolina's status as a State? Maybe a three strikes type rule? This State seems to be going for an all-time record for stupid politicians' mistakes in one year.

    October 20, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  9. Lee

    A Republican in SC who is anti-semetic? Unheard of! The Republicans can claim all they want that they are not racist, anti-semetic, homophobic, etc., but the proof is in the hate speech they continue to spew.

    October 20, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. daniel

    For people who control the media, control the banks and control insurance companies, they sure are mighty thin skinned. Just today they have people caught spying for Israel. They are cheap and rich, admit it.

    October 20, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  11. In the West

    The GOP is quickly turning into the party of nuts, racists and extremists who seem to put their foot in their mouth at every opportunity. The death of numbskull American conservatism can't come fast enough for me. They truly are the Party of No (Ideas).

    October 20, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. Mike in MT

    The Republican Party is or are, so out of touch with americans and america. Its like the blind, leading the blind. They have 'no' idea what the americans want and need, including the 'public option' in the new proposed health care reform legislation bill. Without the 'public option', there will still be 21 million americans without health care insurance. Sometimes, if not all the time, they speak without thinking or looking at the bigger picture. Why does it seem that the Republican Party and the far-right, only think about themselves. For instance, this article or story. As for their talking heads on cable TV, including FOX News.., they really are 'out to lunch' and no one is listening or cares. Why, because they don't really care about the american people and their needs, only their own. Mike in Montana

    October 20, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. Oy Vey!

    Hey Mr. President, get Rahm on the plane! What this idiot doesn't realize one of the oldest Jewish congregations, 1840, is located in Charleston, SC. How appropriate that a supporter of DeMint would make such a comment. It won't cost him much in S.C. and just makes the state look even worse elsewhere. What is it with these "old white guys"?

    October 20, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. Concerned

    The GOP remains the party of White Supremecy . . . full of bigots and racists, especially in the South.

    These people invoke God and family vaules in their party platform, while cheating on their spouses. They demand that the government stay out of their lives, yet they want to dictate what other people can do in their bedrooms.

    Yep. These are the people publishing anti-semitic rhetoric, blatantly disrespecting Obama and the office of the presidency, publically wishing for a "Great White Hope" to come to their rescue.

    All while elevating their token darkie, Steele, to seem inclusive as a party . . . which is just a laughable ruse.

    The GOP is completely out of touch with today's society, and fast becoming irrelevant, politically.

    October 20, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Jackie in Dallas

    Same old, same old GOP. Speak first, then apologize. And I'm sure that the white JP in Louisiana thought he wasn't being racist in refusing to marry a mixed ethnic couple.

    ANYONE who is wealthy either got that way by careful financial decisions about the little things as well as the big (the true gist of the old stereotypic quote used) - regardless of ethnic or religious background.

    As for making political hay out of the situation, ah...what does he think the GOP are doing with EVERYTHING our President does?

    October 20, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. dromad

    why would you even need to use the word "Jews" in that sentence? they could have simply left it out and made the same statement without racial/cultural stereotypes.

    October 20, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Leslie

    Are all the politicians in South Caroina idiots? Maybe in order to be allowed to hold a political office in this state, the law must require a muzzle.

    October 20, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. Marcia Levin

    I love Charleston and just read the new Pat Conroy book which is brilliant. Have good friends there, but is there something in the water Republicans drink that make them stupid? Seems to be a whole lot of that in the Palmetto state.

    October 20, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. Too True For You

    He apparently was fine with writing it, but uncomfortable about being called on it. How typically conservative.

    So I only have two words for him about his Johnny-come-lately apology – to quote another now infamous South Carolina republican: "You Lie!"

    October 20, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Candy Wilson

    I am no great Republican fan but this guy is getting ripped.. What he said is true.. If we would ALL watch our pennies the dollars will take of themselves.....

    October 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. sbp

    Apologize all you want, we all know what you reall think.

    October 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. mytabloids

    South Carolina. Can we kick them out of the U.S.? Or make them part of a more progressive state like, say, Louisiana? And is this guy's suit for real? Nobody has dressed like that since Reconstruction...oh, wait...

    Seriously, these guys aren't "making honest mistakes," they are doing all this VERY INTENTIONALLY, in a pretty obvious "wink, wink" to their racist and anti-semitic base.

    October 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. Magnanimous

    Senator DeMint and all GOP officeholders should disavow and repudiate GOP Chairman James Ulmer as well as his bigoted, hateful comments. There is no place for such bigotry in American politics. Promoting such stereotypes reflects a Deminted ideology.

    October 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. Bruce

    Much ado about nothing. It's a common statement about being fiscally sensible. And it has nothing to do with any ethnic group however misconstrued by the liberal hearts-on-their-sleeve media.

    October 20, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  25. the old sage

    GOP: GONE OLD PARTY. I love my Lord and keep thinking about the part the GOP has forgotten–feed the poor, take care of the homeless and the elderly,etc. They need to supply the GOP with some more ax handles.

    the old sage

    October 20, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
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