Just Can't Shake That Nazi Party Hangover

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tough news last night in the closely watched Republican primary in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District.

Loop favorite Tony Zirkle, who had lost two primaries to former congressman Chris Chocola-- albeit with 30 percent of the vote against incumbent Chocola in 2006 -- was soundly defeated.

Zirkle, whose top campaign issue is opposition to pornography and prostitution, finished a distant third behind Goshen, Ind., businessman and GOP establishment candidate Luke Puckett and Culver, Ind., newspaper delivery man Joseph Roush. Puckett won with 48 percent of the vote; Zirkle drew 16 percent.

Unclear why he did so badly this time. Maybe it was that outreach effort April 20 when he spoke at an Adolf Hitler birthday celebration sponsored by the National Socialist Workers Party, also known as the Nazis.

In response to a question from the Michigan City, Ind., News-Dispatch on whether he is a Nazi, or sympathizes with them or with white supremacists, Zirkle said he didn't "know enough about the group to either favor it or oppose it."

He reportedly also told a local radio station he didn't think all the 50 or so people at the party were necessarily Nazis, because the group's name isn't "Nazi" but National Socialist Workers Party. Apparently clues such as the large swastikas or that picture of der Fuehrer right behind him didn't arouse suspicion. (Thought it was Charlie Chaplin?)

Zirkle said his appearance at the birthday celebration in Chicago -- which also featured a cake that said "Happy 119th" -- was in keeping with his pledge that he would speak to anyone who wanted to hear him.

In this case, he told the News-Dispatch, the Nazis wanted him to discuss the effects of pornography and prostitution on young white women and girls.

The party "was interested in the targeting of white people for prostitution," he said, noting that he agrees with the party's view that trafficking of "young white women should be stopped."

And the Northwest Indiana Times quoted Zirkle as saying in his defense of his appearance: "I'll speak before any group that invites me. . . . I've spoken on an African American radio station in Atlanta."

Maybe the birthday gambit reduced his vote total?

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