(TOLEDO, Ohio) -- House Minority Leader John Boehner is holding a Get Out The Vote rally on Saturday in Northwest Ohio and might be joined by a congressional candidate who was criticized for dressing up in a vintage Nazi uniform in a World War II reenactment.
Rich Iott, who is challenging Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur in Ohio's 9th district, was a former member of a World War II reenactment group that portrayed part of the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division, a unit in the German army during World War II. Photos of Iott dressed as a soldier wearing a German Waffen SS uniform have been widely distributed over the internet.
A web page on Iott’s campaign website announced earlier this week that Iott would join Boehner on Saturday at the Lucas County Victory Center rally to support the local Republican Party’s get-out-the-vote efforts. However, the event has since been taken off Iott’s campaign website. It’s unclear whether Iott still plans to attend the rally.
Repeated calls and emails to Iott’s campaign headquarters and staff Friday inquiring about Iott’s campaign plans this weekend have not been answered.
The minority leader’s press office declined to speculate whether Iott would attend the event as well. Lucas County is not part of the 9th district in Ohio, where Iott is hoping to unseat Kaptur.
Iott explained earlier this month that he participated in the reenactments as a hobby and a father-son bonding experience. He says he has participated in a range of reenactments over the years including as a Union Army soldier and as American soldiers in World War I and II.
Democrats were quick to pounce at the prospect of a campaign stop featuring the top Republican in the House of Representatives alongside the controversial congressional candidate.
“Not only has John Boehner recruited and financed a disgraced Nazi enthusiast running for Congress, but now even more outrageous Boehner is attending a campaign rally with him,” Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said. “John Boehner clearly needs a history lesson. John Boehner’s stubborn embrace of this Nazi enthusiast insults the memory of the six million Jews who died during the Holocaust and our nations’ veterans who sacrificed to defend our freedom.”
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives, also took issue with Iott’s affinity for vintage uniforms during an appearance on a Fox News show earlier this month.
“I would absolutely repudiate that and do not support an individual who would do something like that,” Cantor said after the photos of Iott spread virally across the internet.
National Jewish Democratic Council President David A. Harris released a statement saying a campaign rally with Boehner and Iott would be “disturbing” and “offensive.”
“Apparently Boehner has little regard for victims of the Holocaust, their families and sensitivities, and the valiant members of the armed services who so bravely fought for our country,” Harris said. “It goes without saying that Rich Iott and his wildly insensitive penchant for dressing like a Nazi has no place in the halls of Congress.”
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