October 9th, 2010
06:18 PM ET
4 years ago

Candidate responds to charge he dressed as Nazi

(CNN) - The Ohio Congressional candidate who has received national attention for a photo where he appears in a Nazi uniform, responded to the reports Saturday in a statement on his website.

Rich Iott, a Republican who is running in Ohio's 9th district, said in the statement that he has participated in military re-enactments since college and it is a "hobby" he enjoys with his son.

"Never, in any of my re-enacting of military history, have I meant any disrespect to anyone who served in our military or anyone who has been affected by the tragedy of war," the statement said. "I have immense respect for veterans who served our country valiantly, particularly those who fought to rid the world of tyranny and aggression by relegating Nazism to the trash heap of history."

According to the news magazine "The Atlantic," Iott is a member of Wiking, a group whose members re-enact the actions of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking that fought in World War II. But Iott's campaign would neither confirm nor deny his membership to CNN.

"The Atlantic" also posted a picture of Iott in which he appears to be dressed in a Nazi SS uniform along with an article with the headline "Why's a GOP Candidate Dressed as a Nazi?"

According to Wiking's website, it is a nonprofit group with a "common interest in the German side of the war and want to tell the story of the average combat soldier of the German military."

"Racism or any type of embracement of Nazi ideology of any kind is strictly prohibited by this re-enactment unit," the website reads.

But his political opponents were quick to condemn him as a "Nazi enthusiast."

"It's an unbelievably disturbing story here about this Nazi enthusiast," Ryan Rudominer, National Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said. "It's extremely telling that the NRCC (National Republican Campaign Committee) is recruiting and embracing candidates like this."

Iott was previously listed as one of the National Republican Congressional Committee's young gun contenders - a list of up and coming Republicans candidates - but the website no longer includes Iott.

The NRCC did not immediately return a request for comment.

FULL STATEMENT from Rich Iott: 

"Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am a proud American who loves this country and loves Freedom and those who have died fighting to preserve it. The despicable accusations and distortions of the truth that have been leveled at me, sadly exemplify why people have lost faith in the political process and with the media as well.

"Never, in any of my re-enacting of military history, have I meant any disrespect to anyone who served in our military or anyone who has been affected by the tragedy of war. I have immense respect for veterans who served our country valiantly, particularly those who fought to rid the world of tyranny and aggression by relegating Nazism to the trash heap of history. In fact, my respect for the military and our veterans is one of the reasons I have actively studied military history throughout my life.

"Historical re-enacting is a hobby enjoyed by millions of men – and women – around the world. I have been involved in historical re-enacting from many different eras since I was in college. When my son was old enough to participate, it became a hobby that the two of us could do together and I'm grateful for the father-son bonding we shared as we participated in the events."

"This election needs to be about issues, not false character attacks. Middle class families are struggling and honest people are out of work, which is why I hope my opponent will join me in condemning these blatant distortions and attacks and pledge to focus on the issues that Ohioans so desperately want Washington to address."


Filed under: 2010 • Ohio
soundoff (206 Responses)
  1. Curt

    I have never thought too much for anyone that spends free time re-enacting war. It's an unhealthy fantasy situation, that (to me) indicates a mental problem.

    October 10, 2010 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  2. Donkey Party

    The GOP should just drop the facade of the elephant logo, and run with their true colors, swastikas.

    October 10, 2010 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  3. Steve

    Wow – sounds like someone is grasping at straws Ryan Rudominer. So the unethical decisions by Charlie Rangel, is that what the democratic party is "recruiting and embracing"? Politics have been some a joke in this country on both sides. It is almost comical to read the crap that this put out there these days. I think that every last elected official needs to be fired and let's start over because what he have now on BOTH sides is not working

    October 10, 2010 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  4. mike

    Many people 'portray' British soldiers, Indians, Confederate soldiers, Japanese soldiers, and yes, German soldiers in military reenactments. It's not a hobby I have ANY interest in, but let's be serious: If this candidate portrays a German soldier
    in military reenactments and this makes him ineligible to run for office, things are even more screwed up than I had thought. I played a Chinese merchant in a play in college. THE PICTURES EXIST!! Does this make me a Chinese sympathizer? BTW, I am mostly Irish, fourth generation American.

    October 10, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  5. JustSaying...

    I detect the aroma of bovine fecal matter emanating from this weak excuse...

    October 10, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. Tubbykid

    If you can't fight someone with ideas and values, your only hope is to distort their character. Obviously, Rich Iott is the best candidate in this race, if this is their only recourse. Their desperate approach to fight him may be the best endorsement he can get.

    October 10, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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