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Published: Monday, 10/11/2010

Iott defends Nazi reenactments on CNN

BLADE STAFF

In a live interview Monday afternoon with CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, Toledo-area congressional candidate Rich Iott did not back down from wearing a Nazi uniform in past military reenactments, saying they were part of educational outreach to the American people.

He also said that he took his son, 15 years old at the time, to the reenactments and that his son also participated in the Nazi events.

Mr. Iott, a Republican with Tea Party backing, is running against veteran Democratic Congressman Marcy Kaptur, of Toledo, to represent the Ohio 9th Congressional District.

He was grilled by CNN's Ms. Baldwin over his past involvement in re-enactments dressed in a Nazi uniform with the insignia of a deadly Waffen SS unit.

Asked if he had any regrets, Mr. Iott said his only regret was that, "we're wasting the time talking about this issue," but was cut off by the anchor when he tried to explore health care reform and other current issues.

The anchor also asked Mr. Iott, in the live interview about 3:15 p.m., whether he understands how some voters might be offended that their candidate for Congress enjoyed dressing up as a Nazi, including posing for pictures.

Mr. Iott said the activity had an educational purpose and was a way to dramatize the Holocaust, which he called "one of the lowest points in human history."

"I think it's an important thing to do. We need to constantly remind people about what happened 70 years ago," Mr. Iott said.

He said he shared the re-enactment activities with his son, who had an interest in history, and that both of them have played both sides of World War II re-enactments.

In response to criticism Sunday from Rep. Eric Cantor, the House minority whip from Virginia, Mr. Iott called him a typical "career politician" who takes a position without knowing all the facts.

On Fox News Sunday, Mr. Cantor was asked about Mr. Iott's activity performing military re-enactments as a member of the feared German Waffen SS.

"I would absolutely repudiate that and do not support an individual who would do something like that," Mr. Cantor said.



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