March 29th, 2010
11:10 PM ET
5 years ago

Tea Party activist defends against critics

The CNN Express is following the Tea Party Express Tour around the country.
The CNN Express is following the Tea Party Express Tour around the country.

St. George, Utah (CNN) – Supporters of the Tea Party movement said Monday that critics have unfairly portrayed them as an uneducated and inarticulate band of activists with little knowledge of politics.

Mitzi Butler, an area coordinator of the Tea Party Express Tour, chastised critics who describe her fellow grassroots activists as, "a bunch of hillbillies with no teeth, and [say] we're stupid."

"We are not stupid," she said in an interview with CNN as the tour was preparing to pull into St. George, a picturesque Utah city nestled in a valley of cliffs. "We are well versed. And I think we're smarter than what we've been sending to represent us in Congress."

The cross country political tour began this past weekend in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hometown of Searchlight, Nevada and made stops in Arizona before heading to St. George, a city of about 65,000 people. While the Tea Party movement does not officially align itself with the Republican Party, it champions similar goals: less government, less taxes and the defeat of Democrats, such as Reid, in November.

"We want to get our message out to all of America," said Tiffiny Ruegner, director of Field Operations for Our Country Deserves Better PAC, which is overseeing the tour.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was the headliner Saturday in Reid's hometown, where she decried big government and criticized the initiatives being promoted by President Obama and the congressional Democrats. Ruegner echoed Palin's theme about the expansion of government and said that it is becoming far more intrusive in people's lives. Specifically, Ruegner said she was worried about what the future held for her 8-year-old son.

"I want him to grow up in the same country I grew up in," she said. "And I feel like it's slipping away."

The cross country tour ends in Washington on April 15, the deadline for people to file their taxes.


Filed under: Extra • Tea Party movement
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Texas Granny

    The word "lemmings" immediately comes to mind.

    March 29, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  2. Texas Granny

    Lemmings - as in the Pied Piper story.

    March 29, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. Bob-Texas

    Tea party calls our government socialist. I wonder how many of them collect Social Security and are on Medicare? If they are so worried about socialism stop taking government tax dollars!!! Actually they are pawns for the GOP to get back in office. We sure don't need another 8 years of that.

    March 29, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  4. GaryB

    If she's really worried about losing personal liberties, I would be interested to see how she protested when the Republicans were ramming through the Patriot Act.

    March 29, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  5. hill billy

    we aren't stupid. we want our country back from all the wetbacks and negroes. obama is a fascist socialist racist. beck proved it again today. we aren't stupid. we have all of our teeth.

    March 29, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Tim S

    How bright can they be if they think Sarah Palin is the answer?

    March 29, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  7. Larry

    If you weren't a bunch of uneducated, inarticulate, toothless, stupid hillbillies you would have come up with a more original name for your movement than "Tea Party".

    March 29, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. mountain billy

    sarah said we should take our country back. she must want us to ship all those colored people back to where they came from and then we can keep it safe for my 8 year old son. what about the priests, you say? yeah, that's a problem. but that was what our country was like before and we want that country back. sarah must be an intellectual. she is on fox and is getting a nature show for hollywood. oh no, that means sarah is getting paid by hollywood. how can she still be one of us now? oh dear.

    March 29, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  9. Dirty Liberal

    Not stupid? Hmmmm, have you seen the spelling on those signs they've been carrying? ( "infromation" "anmesty" "moran" are some recent gems)

    March 29, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  10. Franklin

    "We are well versed. ..." said a Tea Party member. Yeh, but only in Bible verses probably. As for smarter than their elected representatives, well if so then you run for office and get elected and do something instead of just complaining and name calling. Then we'll see who's smart or not.

    March 29, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  11. M

    "uneducated and inarticulate band of activists with little knowledge of politics" – this is exactly who tea part thugs are – stupid brainless idiots pandering to the GOP folksy nutters like Palin

    March 29, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  12. JR

    Well, Mitzi, if you were as "well versed" as you say you are, you wouldn't have Sarah Palin speaking for you... Sorry, but her use of words like "reload" in her twitter posting aren't making you any friends.

    You want less government? Focus on something useful, like having the Patriot Act repealed. The PA is the single most liberty compromising act of law passed by the Federal government ever.

    Quit being a forum for those who simply see Barack Obama as a focus for their racial prejudices.

    Educate your followers on how government REALLY works. The 3 branches, the "checks and balances" system. Educate people about how important it is to vote.

    Right now, I think most people just see you folks as just another angry mob with no idea of what you would do if you were able to "take back the country"...

    March 29, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. Dave

    She's be a lot more persuasive if interviews with Tea Party members didn't reveal such profound ignorance about the reality of taxes and the health care bill. Listening to Fox can be toxic to your mental health AND your knowledge.

    March 29, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. Wil Burns

    That's a red herring; I don't think they're stupid, just crazy.

    March 29, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  15. Paul

    Saying your smarter then the people in congress, isn't really saying much about how much you have in the brains department.

    March 29, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When the Tea Party has a $500 a plate dinner and their people can't afford the dinner or the air fare to attend, I don't think that's stupid, that's being used.

    March 29, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  17. jeff jackson, alabama

    That's the new attack phrase from liberals
    describing conservatives for the last couple
    of years. Can't beat us with facts so they make up
    stuff. The sad part is the lying after a time begins
    to work. Liberal drop outs in Hollwood had
    people believing Condi Rice wasn't
    smart about world affairs. She has three degrees
    and knows the families of world leaders.
    Desperate people use desperate measures
    when they go on the attack. Liberals are
    desperate people who thrive on misinformation.

    March 29, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  18. Dave

    All I can say is that you can't be to swift if you pay the likes of Sarah Palin to speak at you conventions. As you know you are judged by the company you keep.

    March 29, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. Al

    Bunch of FOOLS with nothing else to do!!!!!!!!!

    March 29, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  20. Robert

    Miss Tiffini, the country you grew up in isn't just slipping away, it's gone - and mercifully so.

    Today, the US is increasingly diverse and well educated. Men and women of all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds (and nobelievers) and orientations are staking a claim to the American dream of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," including access to education, dependable and affordable healthcare, and a better life for their children.

    "We the people" voted for change in 2008, and elected a forward-looking, intelligent President to lead us into the future. If you're looking for the past, go to a museum.

    March 29, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. Linell, former Republican Winter Park, FL

    "I want him to grow up in the same country I grew up in," she said. "And I feel like it's slipping away." If she is not teaching her son that the only constant in our lives is change, she is doing him a disservice. She needs him to teach him to live and lead in a changing society or she is crippling his ability to be a productive citizen.

    March 29, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. Doug

    I think most Tea Party activists are smarter.... than Palin.

    March 29, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. Shmoe

    There's nothing defensible about the TEA party whatsoever. Where were you from 2000-2006? You call yourself a diverse party - I only see old and middle-aged white people (who apparently have no jobs?).

    March 29, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Diane Bralley

    If the shoe fits....

    March 29, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  25. john in binghamton NY

    What else would you expect? You expect a lunatic to say "you know what, you are right and I am sorry"?? No, they will just scream in your face the same discredited thing they have been saying until the stroke out.

    March 29, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
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