CHICAGO — A growing number of Democrats called Thursday for the resignation of U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois, a newly sworn-in Republican who quoted Adolf Hitler at a rally outside the U.S. Capitol this week.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Marie Newman, all Illinois Democrats, along with a contingent of state legislators circulating a petition, demanded Miller step down immediately.
“There are some things that cross a very definite line and that was one of them,” said Schakowsky, who is Jewish. “At a moment like this, when emotions have been so high on all sides, to invoke the name of Hitler was about as inappropriate and wrong as you can get.”
Miller spoke Tuesday at a “Save the Republic Rally” hosted by conservative group, “Moms for America.” The rally took place a day before violent supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol. Miller was among those who voted to overturn election results for President-elect Joe Biden. At the rally, Miller was discussing the need to appeal to young people and said: “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ’Whoever has the youth has the future.’”
Miller's spokeswoman didn't respond to multiple requests seeking comment. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Miller responded in now-deleted tweets that she would “never glorify a genocidal dictator” and 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.”
The rally hosts defended Miller, saying Thursday that the comments were taken out of context, Miller was owed an apology and, “Truth is truth regardless of the source.”
“Moms for America” President Kimberly Fletcher also referenced the Nazi leader in the group's
“Hitler also said, ‘Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it,' If we mandate people not talk about the insidious actions of Hitler, we dismiss the horrific events he incited and open the door for them to be repeated,” Fletcher wrote. “The media should focus on the truth instead of relentlessly repeating big lies.”
Miller, 61, was sworn in Sunday after handily winning the November election to fill the seat left vacant by Republican John Shimkus' retirement. It's her first time in public office. Miller, of Oakland, runs a farm with her husband, Republican state Rep. Chris Miller. Her congressional district covers a wide swath of southeastern Illinois along the Indiana border.
Her comments drew swift criticism, including from the World Jewish Congress, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Jewish state legislators.
“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,” said a statement from the Illinois Legislative Jewish Caucus. "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 group of more than a dozen lawmakers was circulating a petition demanding immediate resignation. It had more than 3,800 signatures Thursday.
Duckworth, a veteran, called Miller's comments “disqualifying for an American elected official.”
“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,” Duckworth said in a statement.
Other U.S. House Democrats from Illinois issued a joint statement condemning the remark as “a black mark on this body and a black mark on our state.”
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Sophia Tareen, The Associated Press