GOP PRETENDS NOT TO KNOW RICH IOTT…. Late Friday, The Atlantic‘s Josh Green had a rather amazing scoop about Republican congressional candidate Rich Iott, running in Ohio’s 9th District. It was serious enough that yesterday, his party decided to put some distance between Iott and the GOP.

If you’re just joining us, Iott, a Tea Party favorite, spent several years participating in Nazi re-enactments, dressing up like a German Waffen SS as part of his “hobby.” Making matters worse, Iott’s little troupe said it was created in part to “salute” the “idealists” and “front-line soldiers of the Waffen-SS” and their “basic desire to be free.” It also characterizes Wiking volunteers as “valiant men,” overlooking the minor detail that they also rounded up Jews to be slaughtered.

Apparently unable to think of a compelling defense, Republicans, by mid-day yesterday, pretended not to know the candidate they recruited for the race.

Until last night, the GOP included the candidate, Rich Iott, on a list of promising potential members called Contenders — a notch below their so-called Young Guns. Now he’s gone, without a trace.

You can get away with a lot in conservative politics these days, but it turns out spending your weekends dressed as a Nazi, celebrating the brave Waffen 5th SS Panzer Division is still a bridge too far.

For his part, Iott issued a statement late yesterday, condemning “blatant distortions and attacks.” While he didn’t apologize for his recreational activities, Iott did insist, by way of a defense, that he participated in re-enactments of other wars — the Nazi uniform, in other words, wasn’t the only one he wore — and never meant “any disrespect” when he pretended to be a German Waffen SS.

The explanation doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect — the NRCC wouldn’t even talk about Iott in the wake of the controversy.

I heard from DCCC spokesperson Ryan Rudominer yesterday, who said, “Message to John Boehner and the House Republican leadership: the least you can do is apologize and take full responsibility for recruiting and then embracing a Nazi enthusiast running for Congress, instead of remaining silent and deceiving voters by sweeping it under the rug. The extremist and fatally flawed candidates that House Republicans have been propping up speak volumes about the reckless leadership they’re offering voters.”

That seems like the relevant theme here. Democrats are anxious to show voters that a radicalized Republican Party is running fringe, extremist candidates. A guy like Rich Iott was probably going to lose anyway, but the revelations nevertheless make the Dems’ job easier.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.