CHICAGO (CBS) -- Facing demands to resign, newly-elected Central Illinois Congresswoman Mary Miller apologized on Friday for quoting Adolf Hitler earlier this week in a speech at a pro-Trump rally outside the U.S. Capitol, but accused others of "trying to intentionally twist my words."
Just two days after being sworn in for her first term, Miller spoke at a "Save The Republic" rally by the conservative group Moms for America, where she said Republicans need to "win the hearts and minds of our children" in order to avoid losing future elections.
"This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, 'Whoever has the youth has the future,'" Miller said.
Her remarks drew swift condemnation from Democrats and fellow Republicans, as well as the Anti-Defamation League. Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who is Jewish, fellow freshman Illinois Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Illinois U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth -- all Democrats -- have said Miller should resign.
"It is absolutely repugnant, obscene and unacceptable for any American – let alone a supposed 'leader' serving in Congress – to claim Adolf Hitler was right about anything," Duckworth said in a statement on Thursday. "To say that the perpetrator of the greatest genocide in world history should be a model for any type of behavior, much less the indoctrination of children with hatred, racism and fascist ideals, is disqualifying for an American elected official. I cannot condemn in harsher terms Mary Miller's despicable comments in the run-up to yesterday's coup attempt, and I call on her to resign immediately so that someone who better understands the sacrifices our brave service members made during World War II can more effectively represent our state."
GOP Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider also condemned Miller's remarks, and Schneider said she should apologize.
Miller, a Republican who lives in Oakland, Illinois, issued a statement Friday apologizing for her remarks.
"I sincerely apologize for any harm my words caused and regret 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," she said in a statement. "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."
Earlier, Miller's office claimed in a statement on Twitter that her statement about Hitler "was a denunciation of evil dictators' efforts to re-educate young people and similar efforts by left-wing radicals in our country today."
Her comments about Hitler came one day before a mob of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. According to published reports, her husband, Illinois State Rep. Chris Miller, attended a rally where President Donald Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol and again falsely claimed the election was rigged, that Mr. Biden didn't win, and that Vice President Mike Pence could change the outcome of the election.
Congresswoman Miller was elected in November to the 15th Congressional District in Illinois, following the retirement of U.S. Rep. John Shimkus. She and fellow downstate Congressman Mike Bost were the only two members of the Illinois congressional delegation to vote to object to President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.
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