MENDON, Ill. — When freshman U.S. Rep. Mary Miller took to a county fair stage Saturday night to thank former President Donald Trump for appointing conservative justices who led the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, she called it a “historic victory for white life.”
Miller, who has Trump’s endorsement in challenging five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in Tuesday’s primary, did not elaborate on the “white life” comment she made on stage. Later, a campaign aide said she meant to say “right to life,” but misspoke.
Miller’s quote, with its racist overtones, were delivered on a national stage amid a time of deep political divisions exacerbated by the high court’s abortion ruling. It quickly spread on social media to become the top trending political subject on Twitter. That prompted her campaign to complain that “the fake news vultures are out” to get her.
But other Illinois Republicans also criticized Miller. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon, a frequent target of Miller due to his opposition to Trump and role in being a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, retweeted the video of Miller’s remark along with a reminder of one of her previous controversial statements.
And Davis, her primary opponent, said in a statement that her comment was part of a “disturbing pattern of behavior she’s displayed since coming to Congress.”
“Miller has demonstrated she is not fit for public office. This is why it’s so important to vote in our Republican Primary on Tuesday and show the country Miller’s behavior is unacceptable,” Davis said.
Intentional or not, it was the latest in a string of major controversies for Miller, who was born and raised in suburban Naperville and now lives in downstate Oakland in east-central Illinois.
Just days after taking office in January 2021, Miller was facing calls for her resignation after she cited Adolf Hitler in a speech to a conservative women’s group in referring to the political indoctrination of young people.
“Each generation has the responsibility to teach and train the next generation. You know, 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. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, whoever has the youth has the future,” she said.
Miller eventually apologized and said she regretted using the reference to the mastermind of the Nazi Holocaust while she also blamed others for “intentionally trying to twist my words.”
More recently, Miller, a member of the Second Amendment Caucus opposed to gun regulation, had an explanation for what she and the group think is the cause of mass shootings following the May 24 killings of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
“We cannot let those who are trying to destroy our society’s central pillars of faith, family and freedom succeed,” she said of renewed efforts for gun regulations.
“Young men need fathers at home. So do our daughters. Our country must be guided by our Judeo-Christian faith,” she said. “The Second Amendment Caucus will continue to fight to defend our Second Amendment rights and we will continue to speak out about what really ails our country. We need to go back to God.”
On June 11, when thousands marched in rallies across the nation against gun violence, Miller posted on Twitter that she had spent the day visiting gun shops in her district and criticized her opponent for supporting so-called “red flag laws” that allow a gun to be taken from someone if they present a danger to themselves or others after a due process procedure.
Miller has not spoken out against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. She voted against a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, saying, “We’re not taking care of the immediate needs, the things that Americans care about, like funding our EMT or our police or our schools.”
Miller also blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats for failing to vote on a Senate-passed plan to increase security for U.S. Supreme Court justices. But when Democrats put it up for a vote and it overwhelmingly passed, Miller missed the vote while she was campaigning back in her district.
On Saturday night, speaking before Trump at a rally at the Adams County Fairgrounds outside Quincy, Miller said, “The news media calls us names. Big Tech censors us. The global elites are determined to destroy our way of life, including the family farm. We will not let them destroy us.”
Miller operates a family farming operation with her husband, state Rep. Chris Miller. It has received more than $1 million in federal farm subsidies, records show.
“We are Americans. This is our beautiful country. And we will never surrender to the Marxists in Washington,” Miller said. “We are the Christians who put our faith in God, not in the government.”
Miller is also the subject of a House Ethics Committee complaint for using House floor footage for political purposes, in violation of congressional rules. A Miller campaign ad critical of Davis, who is from Taylorville, with former President Barack Obama following a State of the Union address. Responding to the complaint, Miller accused Davis of trying to “beg one of Nancy Pelosi’s House committees” to block conservatives from seeing the footage.
Miller also has repeatedly criticized Davis for supporting the investigation into Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack. Davis did support an independent, 9/11-style commission to look into the insurrection, but that measure never passed the Senate. Davis voted against the measure creating the current House select committee investigation. Miller didn’t vote.
Pearson reported from Chicago and Gorner reported from Mendon.