A newly-inaugurated Illinois congresswoman who invoked Adolf Hitler in a speech at a rally issued a statement Friday after her remarks sparked backlash, including from a group of state lawmakers who called on her to resign.
Rep. Mary Miller, a Republican who was sworn into office Sunday to represent Illinois' 15th Congressional District, said in a statement she wanted to "sincerely apologize for any harm my words caused." She added she regrets "using a reference to one of the most evil dictators in history to illustrate the dangers that outside influences can have on our youth."
"This dark history should never be repeated and parents should be proactive to instill what is good, true, right, and noble into their children’s hearts and minds," her statement read. "While some are trying to intentionally twist my words to mean something antithetical to my beliefs, let me be clear: I'm passionately pro-Israel and I will always be a strong advocate and ally of the Jewish community. I’ve been in discussion with Jewish leaders across the country and am grateful to them for their kindness and forthrightness."
A Twitter user posted video Tuesday showing Miller speaking at a rally outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in which she said the German Nazi leader "was right on one thing."
"If we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle," Miller is heard saying in the footage. "Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’”
The Illinois Legislative Jewish Caucus condemned Miller's remarks on Wednesday, saying she "has demonstrated an act of blatant antisemitism and disrespect to the Jewish people and all those who perished at the hands of the Nazis."
“A sitting member of Congress who uses Hitler’s obscene methods for indoctrinating children with racism and fascism as a guidepost, igniting hate and violence, has no place in Congress," the statement from the caucus continues. "If Rep. Miller has any respect left for the role of a U.S. Congressperson or any shred of dignity in her, she will do what’s right and resign.”
The caucus, which includes 11 members of the Illinois House and four state senators, also started an online petition to demand her resignation. The petition received more than 500 signatures as of Thursday morning.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Marie Newman, all Democrats, also demanded Miller step down immediately.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday called Miller's remarks "unfathomable and disgusting."
"Hitler got nothing right," Pritzker, who is Jewish, said during an unrelated press conference. "This reprehensible rhetoric has no place in our politics."
Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider in a statement called the language "wrong and disgusting."
"We urge Congresswoman Miller to apologize," Schneider's statement read.
All of Miller's Democratic colleagues representing Illinois in the U.S. House also joined together to call on her to apologize.
“We, the duly elected Members of the Illinois Delegation, condemn today’s statement by our new colleague, Mary Miller," the state's 13 Democrats in the House said.
"This repugnant comment, on a repugnant day, is a black mark on this body and a black mark on our state," the statement continued, referencing the mob of President Donald Trump's supporters who rioted at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, breaching both chambers of Congress and halting the counting of electoral votes affirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory as chaos and violence erupted, leaving four people dead.
"Mary Miller must apologize to her constituents, to the American people and to all who memorialize the millions murdered by Hitler," the statement ends.
Earlier this week, Miller wrote on Twitter that her statement "was a denunciation of evil dictators' efforts to re-educate young people and similar efforts by left-wing radicals in our country today."
Miller handily won the November race for the open seat vacated by retiring Rep. John Shimkus, receiving support from Trump during her campaign as she vowed to stand with the president by "objecting to the tainted election results on January 6th." She was one of two Illinois Republicans to vote against the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory after a riot at the U.S. Capitol this week.