By
updated 10/11/2010 4:03:23 PM ET 2010-10-11T20:03:23

A Republican congressional candidate from Ohio, countering criticism from a House GOP leader, said he did nothing wrong by wearing a Nazi uniform while participating in World War II re-enactments.

Rich Iott told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that he took part in the historical re-enactments to educate the public, and does not agree with the Nazis' views or their actions against Jews.

Asked whether it was wrong to wear a Nazi uniform, Iott said: "I don't see anything wrong about educating the public about events that happened. And that's the whole purpose of historical re-enacting."

    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California
    6. Christie acknowledges federal subpoena
    7. Obama says Fox News's O'Reilly 'absolutely' unfair in extended interview
    8. Christie security officer hit with shoplifting charges
  1. More politics
    1. Obama's 2nd year
      AP
    2. Political Cartoons

Iott faces Democratic incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur in northwest Ohio in the November election.

The Atlantic magazine on reported Friday that Iott had participated in the re-enactments wearing a Waffen-SS uniform.

Iott said Monday he was in a re-enactment group called Wiking for three or four years — though he believed his name remained on the group's roster for longer. He said he and his then-teenage son had joined as a part of a shared interest in history.

GOP leader criticizes Iott
The House Republicans' No. 2 leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, on Sunday said he repudiates Iott's actions and would not support someone who would dress in Nazi attire. His remarks on "Fox News Sunday" came after Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida, cited Iott as an example of GOP candidates with extreme views.

"You know good and well that I don't support anything like that," said Cantor, who is Jewish.

Iott said Cantor had no information or background about his re-enacting.

"What Cantor did is exactly the illustration of why people are disgusted with politicians," Iott said. "He made comments and took a position that was good for him at the time, regardless of whether it was good for anyone else or good for the voters."

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

Iott said he has been involved in re-enactments on and off for roughly 35 years. He said he has dressed as an American soldier for World War I and World War II re-enactments, as well as a soldier from each side of the Civil War. Iott said he could not recall when he and his son joined the Wiking group but that he was no longer involved.

"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," Iott said in a statement Saturday.

During the peak of his involvement in the early 2000s, Iott said he dressed up about a half dozen times a year at the most. He said he wore the Nazi uniform in battle re-enactments, presentations at schools and public events.

Asked what he said while wearing the Nazi uniform in the schools, he said, "We talked about the atrocities that were committed and it was a horrible, horrible part of history. But we can't forget about it or, you know, sweep it under the rug. Because those who forget about history are destined to repeat it."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Candidates lash out at gays, don Nazi garb

  1. Transcript of: Candidates lash out at gays, don Nazi garb

    MATT LAUER, co-host: But we begin with New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino 's controversial remarks on homosexuality. We're going to talk to Mr. Paladino in a moment, but first NBC 's Kelly O'Donnell has the latest on this. Kelly , good morning to you.

    KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Good morning, Matt. An emotionally charged issue and some controversial actions played out in a couple of races on the campaign trail that we'll tell you about this morning. But first in New York , the candidate who nearly came to blows with a reporter then tried to reset his public image has now ignited a new firestorm trying to win the support of a local group.

    Unidentified Man: Carl Paladino , hopefully the next governor.

    O'DONNELL: Meeting Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn , New York 's Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino , lashed out against gays and claimed gay marriage is bad for everyone's children.

    Mr. CARL PALADINO: And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't.

    O'DONNELL: The Buffalo millionaire businessman backed by the tea party was speaking to a group that opposed gay marriage .

    Mr. PALADINO: You can depend on me to protect and defend your family from those who seek to tear down our values and bankrupt our citizens.

    O'DONNELL: Paladino mocked his Democratic opponent, Andrew Cuomo , for his support of gay rights .

    Mr. PALADINO: I didn't march in a gay parade this year, a gay pride parade this year. My opponent did. And that's not the example that we should be showing our children.

    O'DONNELL: In response, Cuomo 's campaign said, " Paladino showed a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality." Expecting criticism, Paladino had insisted he meant no harm.

    Mr. PALADINO: And don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live .

    O'DONNELL: Turning to controversy over a Nazi uniform worn by an Ohio Republican running for Congress .

    Representative DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (Democrat, Florida): You have one candidate in Ohio who actually thinks it's a good bonding experience to go and re-enact Nazi battles with his son.

    O'DONNELL: Rich Iott defended his hobby, saying military re-enactments are about studying history.

    Mr. RICH IOTT: When they put on a uniform of one side of the other they're not embracing the ideology, not glorifying what the, you know, those governments or political systems may have done.

    O'DONNELL: From controversy to classic politics. In Philadelphia , the VP and President Obama told Democrats not to give in to a predicted Republican wave.

    President BARACK OBAMA: I think the pundits are wrong. I think we're going to win, but you got to prove them wrong.

    O'DONNELL: To the fight for Barack Obama 's former Senate seat in Illinois on " Meet the Press ." Moderate Republican Congressman Mark Kirk was challenged on inaccurate claims that he had come under enemy fire serving overseas.

    Representative MARK KIRK: I made mistakes with regard to my military misstatements. I was careless and I learned a very painful and humbling lesson.

    O'DONNELL: Democratic State treasurer Alexi Giannoulias was questioned on the failed family bank he helped run. Republicans labeled him a mob banker over loans made to felons.

    DAVID GREGORY reporting: Did you know that they were crime figures that you were loaning money to?

    Mr. ALEXI GIANNOULIAS: Didn't know the extent of their activity.

    O'DONNELL: And, of course, the Illinois Senate race has big implications because the seat's current held by a Democrat. And it is the Republican, Mark Kirk , who has been leading in most polls. In the New York race , it's Andrew Cuomo , the Democrat, who has been leading in polls for the race for governor against New York 's Carl Paladino . Matt :

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments