Republican House candidate Rich Iott, who dressed in a Waffen SS uniform for World War II reenactments, accused his opponent Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) of helping to orchestrate "an attack on me that tried to brand me a Nazi."
Iott's charge came in a debate Monday night in Toledo, the heart of the 9th District in Northwest Ohio. Kaptur, who is seeking her 15th term, said she didn't even know about Iott's participation in the Wiking reenactment group
until she read about it in the Toledo Blade
on Sunday. (The story broke Friday on Atlantic.com
.) "You've been very negative," Kaptur told Iott. "You should be taking responsibility for your own actions, not trying to blame somebody else."
Iott said Kaptur "helped coordinate an attack on me that's tried to brand me a Nazi. A Nazi? Because I've participated in some historical reenactments
? That saddens me because you know it's not true."
After the debate, Kaptur said she thought Iott's participation with the Wiking group -- which reenacted battles on the Eastern Front between the German SS and the Red Army -- was "just unbelievable. You have no idea how disturbing I find it. The SS were not soldiers. They were butchers. And they killed people and tortured people that I know personally." (It was not clear what Kaptur meant by the last remark, as she was born in 1946, the year after the war ended.)
Iott also had to deal with a second issue, raised by WUPW in Toledo, which asked why he had listed his employment as "soldier" on a Federal Election Commission disclosure statement for a $500 donation he made to the Republican National Committee. Iott, 58, is a suburban businessman, according to the Blade, and also a member of the volunteer Ohio Military Reserve, an auxiliary. The reserve "would not be my employer, certainly. But I don't know how that got that way," he said.
On Sunday, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), No. 2 in the House GOP hierarchy, repudiated Iott and said he could not support someone who dressed in a Nazi uniform. "You know good and well that I don't support anything like that," Cantor, who is Jewish, told "Fox News Sunday
Iott continued to insist that he didn't "see anything wrong about educating the public about events that happened. And that's the whole purpose of historical reenacting." He said he did not agree with the Nazis view or their actions against Jewish people.