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Published: Thursday, 10/14/2010

Kaptur, Iott spar in Sandusky over Nazi, other issues


SANDUSKY — In his second joint appearance with U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) since it was reported that Rich Iott participated in Nazi military re-enactments, Mr. Iott on Thursday was again peppered with questions about that controversial experience.

The Republican from Monclova Township defended himself for doing what he said amounted to educating the public so that history does not repeat itself.

"Did you ever wear a swastika arm band [as a re-enactor}?" was an early question submitted by an audience member at the debate at Mr. Smith's Coffee House in downtown Sandusky.

"Absolutely not," Mr. Iott replied. "That is prohibited in the re-enactment world because the arm band is a political statement."

In retrospect, would you do it again?

"Absolutely," he fired back. "Just as I played a GI, just as I played a Union soldier."

If elected, would you continue to participate in re-enactments?

No, he said with a laugh. "I don't have the time."

Ms. Kaptur responded that she did not appreciate what sounded like light-hearted answers.

"This is a very serious subject to me," she said. "…I think what offends me about what I have learned is your lack of empathy and understanding of how your actions might have affected others. I draw a big distinction in my mind between the uniform of a doughboy in World War I and someone who would wear not just the uniforms but the emblems of the SS."

The 90-minute debate, sponsored by the Sandusky Register newspaper, attracted a full house at the coffee house. The candidates covered topics ranging from the U.S. role in Afghanistan to job creation, trade agreements, and health care reform.

The two candidates are vying for the 9th Congressional District that Miss Kaptur, 64, has held since 1983. Mr. Iott, 58, a businessman, is making his first run at political office.

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