TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) – Republican Congressional candidate Rich Iott, who is running against incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur, has gained national attention after controversial pictures surfaced of him wearing a Nazi uniform in military reenactments.
With just a few weeks before Election Day, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern attacked Iott Monday for portraying a Nazi.
"Rich Iott has not issued an appropriate apology nor has he shown any type of remorse for what he did. He owes our vets, Jewish Americans and many others an apology for his practices," said Redfern. "His actions are despicable, yet he continues to defend them. He alone continues to defend them."
Along with calling on Iott to issue an apology, Redfern also challenged Ohio Republicans to denounce Iott's candidacy.
Republican Toledo City Councilman Rob Ludeman is not defending Iott, but says he still supports him.
"I'm not going to withdraw support because of one action in his past that took place a number of years ago," said Ludeman. "He's a good man. He'll represent our area better than the current congressperson."
However, Iott makes it clear he is not a Nazi and does not support their beliefs. In fact, he says he is a simply a history buff that has portrayed soldiers from various wars. He also says military reenactments are a way to remember and understand history.
"This is a very well orchestrated character assassination at a time when we should be talking about issues," said Iott.
Additionally, Iott calls Kaptur a desperate, nervous politician for making the Nazi pictures a campaign issue.
As a result of the photos, which were originally published on the Atlantic.com, prominent Republican Party members have started distancing themselves from his campaign.
"Now, Debbie went and launched into her attacks as to some of the reports about candidates that are running, and particularly the one in Ohio having to do with the Nazi reenactment. She knows that I would absolutely repudiate that and not support an individual… who would do something like that," said Eric Cantor (R), the House minority whip from Virginia.
Cantor, the second-highest Republican in the U.S. House under Ohio Representative John Boehner, denounced Iott's actions after a Florida congresswoman cited him as an example of GOP candidates she said are extreme Sunday on Fox News.