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Rep. Mary Miller arrives at the Hyatt Regency hotel on Capitol Hill on Nov. 12, 2020.Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

A freshman Republican congresswoman from downstate Illinois apologized Friday for knowingly quoting Adolf Hitler during a rally outside of the U.S. Capitol this week.

Representative Mary Miller, who was among the Republicans who tried to challenge the certification of certain Electoral College votes that went to incoming president Joe Biden, issued the apology in the face of calls for her to resign.

“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,” the newly sworn-in congresswoman said in a statement.

Ms. Miller, who represents Illinois’ 15th District and is from Oakland, a small city about 160 kilometres west of Indianapolis, spoke Tuesday at a “Save the Republic Rally” held by a conservative group, Moms for America. While discussing the need for her party to appeal to young people, she said: “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’ ”

The rally took place a day before supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol.

In her apology, Ms. Miller also said “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,” Ms. Miller said.

Several prominent Illinois Democrats have called on Ms. Miller to resign, including Senator Tammy Duckworth and Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Marie Newman. Democratic legislators circulated a petition calling on her to step down immediately.

“There are some things that cross a very definite line and that was one of them,” said Ms. 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.”

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