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Rich Iott Slammed by Republicans for Nazi Re-Enactments

Republican nominee and Tea Party-backed candidate for Congress Rich Iott of Ohio (second from right) is pictured dressed in a German Waffen SS uniform. Iott, who participated in Nazi re-enactments as part of a group called Wiking, told The Atlantic that while he has been involved with the group for a number of years, his interest in Nazi Germany is "purely historical." The Atlantic

Republicans over the weekend sought to distance the party from Rich Iott, the Tea Party-supported GOP nominee for Congress in Ohio's 9th District who used to participate in Nazi re-enactments.

The Atlantic magazine first reported that Iott, who was part of the National Republican Congressional Committee's "Young Guns" program, donned German Waffen SS uniforms for the re-enactments, which he participated in with his son.

Iott's involvement in the re-enactments quickly drew fire from his opponent, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. (CBS News has labeled the race as "Probable Democratic.")

"My first reaction was shock, my second reaction was dismay, my third reaction is disgust, from what I've seen," Kaptur told Fox Toledo News.

Iott said in a statement Saturday that he has become the victim of "distortions of the truth."

"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," he said. "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, especially the Jewish Community. 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."

Along with the statement, Iott posted on his website pictures of himself in re-enactment costumes from other wars.

Nevertheless, Republican whip Eric Cantor (Va.) on Sunday condemned Iott's participation in the re-enactments, after being challenged to do so by Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (Fla.).

"You have one candidate in Ohio who actually thinks it's a good bonding experience to re-enact Nazi battles with his son," Wasserman-Schultz said on Fox News Sunday. "Now Debbie went and launched into her attacks as to some of the reports about some of the candidates that are running, particularly the one in Ohio having to do with a Nazi re-enactment," Cantor said. "She knows that I would absolutely repudiate that and do not support an individual that would do something like that."

After Wasserman-Schultz said, "Well you haven't," Cantor replied, "I'm doing that right here. You know good and well I don't support anything like that."

As the Hotsheet reported Friday, Iott's name was quickly removed from the NRCC's "Young Guns" website.

The Republican Jewish Coalition on Sunday also released a statement condemning Iott.

"Rich Iott's initial statement after the story about his Nazi-focused historical reenactments broke showed that he clearly lacks the judgment we should expect of lawmakers," RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said.

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