Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher, who gained fame during the 2008 campaign when he met Barack Obama and subsequently campaigned for John McCain, is the likely Republican nominee for the House this year in his deep-blue Ohio district. This week he trotted out the endorsement of Rich Iott, who gained fame in 2010 when it was discovered he enjoys spending his weekends dressed up like a Nazi.
With Ohio losing two seats in the House, this district was combined from the home turfs of two Democratic incumbents, Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich. This week, Wurzelbacher put out a press release touting the endorsements of past Republican opponents of each of the Democrats: Kucinich’s 2010 opponent Peter Corrigan and 2008 GOP nominee Jim Trakas — and Kaptur’s 2010 opponent, Rich Iott.
“Joe is the real deal,” Iott said in the Plumber’s press release, “He’s worked in the real world to make a real living. He can relate to his constituents and their needs. I’d be proud to have Joe represent me in Washington.”
The release also included this statement from Joe the Candidate: “I am grateful for the strong support that I have received from all over the district. Whether it’s from former candidates, county GOPs, or area business leaders, it is clear that people are uniting behind my campaign to bring working class conservative values to Washington DC. Whoever the Democrats decide to put up, we will be ready to put on a strong race all the way to November.”
The problem here, of course, is that Iott made quite a name for himself in the 2010 cycle — due to his hobby of spending weekends dressing up as a Nazi for World War II reenactments — specifically as the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division, a unit in the German army that was actually recruited from foreign volunteers.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that here was a relatively small country that from a strictly military point of view accomplished incredible things,” Iott explained. “I mean, they took over most of Europe and Russia, and it really took the combined effort of the free world to defeat them. From a purely historical military point of view, that’s incredible.”
In one interview on CNN, Iott disputed Anderson Cooper’s characterization of the Wiking Division as “collaborators”: “I don’t know that I would put that label on them. They were doing what they thought was right for their country. And they were going out and fighting what they thought was a bigger, you know, a bigger evil.”
In the end, Iott lost his bid for the Reichstag — er, Congress — by a 59%-41% margin.
A phone call by TPM to Wurzelbacher’s campaign, to inquire about Iott’s endorsement and past Nazi reenactments, was not immediately returned.