WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two South Carolina Republican officials have apologized for defending U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint by likening him to Jews who "take care of the pennies."
Bamberg County GOP Chairman Edwin Merwin and Orangeburg County GOP Chairman James Ulmer wrote the Orangeburg Times and Democrat to defend DeMint, also a Republican, after a Democratic politician said he didn’t help direct enough funds to local projects.
"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 chairmen write. "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."
In a statement released late Monday, Merwin said he meant "absolutely nothing derogatory by the reference to a great and honorable people." Ulmer echoed this sentiment in his apology, released Tuesday, and stressed he has "always abhorred in the past, and shall continue to do so in the future, antisemitism in any form whatsoever."
RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks had issued a statement demanding an apology from the chairmen, stressing that "Mr. Merwin and Mr. Ulmer have done a tremendous disservice to their party." The RJC said it appreciated the "prompt and sincere apologies."
The Palmetto Scoop, a conservative Web site in the state, said such comments underscored the Republican Party’s difficulties.
"It’s people like Ulmer and Merwin that make many folks fear for the future of the once Grand Ole Party," it said.