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. vet in tx

    My question to all Tea Partiers:

    1. Where were you when your freedoms were taken from you when the patriot act passed? (HCR takes away our freedoms/expansion of Government/back room deals/fiscal conservatism)
    2. Where were you when the tax cuts for the rich were passed twice the same way HCR was (socialism for the wealthy/back room deals/trampling our constitution)
    If you were at home, then get out the rubbing alchohol and try to get that "blow-pop stamp" (sucker) off of your forehead, utilize your mind and not your heart then go to the next party and look the speakers in the eye and ask what have you done fiscally conservative besides only saying no to the stimulus and HCR because they all voted for the W bailout!

    March 29, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. Joseph B

    Yes Mitzi – you are smarter than the people that YOU have been sending to Washington to represent. You have been sending Republican shills who are more into their own power than helping America. Now Mitzi, please look at the people who are trying to help America, and the people who are trying to exploit America for their own benefit and make the smart choice.

    March 29, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  3. Bleeding heart liberal

    The whole tea party movement is littered with naive brain dead zombies that feed on corporate information and whatever the republicans tell them. Here's a news flash; when Obama got elected we got our country back from corporate interest groups, christian fascists and every other person with a 16th century mentality. Obama gave us power to fight these people.

    March 29, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  4. N. Allen

    Someone should have asked her about the video that has now surfaced of Tea Partiers spitting on Rep. Cleaver.

    March 29, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  5. lysander77

    Yeah, it's so unfair that you can't just carry signs and use propaganda that uses ignorant (birthers, etc) hateful and racist (re: Obamacare posters using racists images, monkey comparisons, etc) remarks without being pinned a hillbilly these days.

    What drives me nuts with the Tea Partiers is that they moan about the glory days, looking at the past with rose colored glasses. When was this golden age of America we're missing? Was it during the McCarthy era? Perhaps the Cold War when everyone was in fear of nuclear annihilation? Maybe during the 70's and the oil shortage, stagnation of the economy? Perhaps during the 50-60's and the assassinations, government corruption and the drafts? Oh, it had to be during WW2. Wait, no, before that and the Great Depression.

    That's the

    March 29, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. Laguna

    If they want people to think they are intelligent, they are going to have to somehow keep Palin away from their events. If they are willing to follow such an obvious dope, then they will suffer the consequences.

    March 29, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  7. Elle in WA

    First, I'd like to know who exactly portrayed them as "a bunch of hillbillies with no teeth" and say they're stupid. I haven't heard anything like that and it sounds to me like they're just trying to get some kind of sympathy for something that never happened or was never said.

    Second, if they have a message to send to America, then why can't they articulate exactly what that message is, and why/how it differs from the GOP message? Maybe that would make them seem less like idiots.

    March 29, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    The fact that Tea Party organizers are not distancing themselves from the inarticulate, badly misinformed in a dramatic way suggests that they are more concerned with body count than with the qualifications of the participants.
    The fact that it is so easy to find the Kool-Aid drinking bullet point spouting ditto headed Glen Beck sycophants more than suggests that they are not really informed.
    INFORMED suggests some kind of depth of understanding. They only know (and only WANT to know) one side of the story and that side is pretty much a horror fantasy designed to control and frighten their supplicants

    Chant on: "socialist/communist/ rights stealing Democrats who want to take our guns and ruin the 'real' America."

    You may have your teeth, but knowledge, insight, the ability to reason, form an opinion and use your own words to explain it is WAY beyond the ability of most of you and Sarah Palin proves my point more than anyone.

    March 29, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  9. Jaime H.

    If you feel that you have to acknowledge that "We are not stupid," ; that should be a Red Flag ....

    March 29, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  10. Bob in Pa.

    Notice how they make a run at the so called radical militias when their backs are against the wall and they need some sympathy. I'm sure these loonies have been in the FBIs sights for years, only Mr. Holder saw one of those great opps to play it up for the media and state we have a vast right wing terrorist groups on the loose.

    FYI Mr. Holder, it won't work, your modus operandi is well known to us now. We will have no problems voting you all out at the polls.

    March 29, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. manny

    anybody asking why these crazy tea partiers vote repubs who crumbled this country for 8yrs. why are they so easily fooled by their republican financiers and founders, why. are they all as dumb as door knobs or what?

    March 29, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  12. once upon a horse

    I would agree that ALL the Tea Party folks are stupid backwoods racists, BUT like in most cases it's always the bad apples that will spoil the whole bunch. And the problem I have with them is that they will neither control nor condemn this bigoted bunch of the movement that lately get all the press because they "don't want to upset the base" and their freedom of speech. I don't recall spitting on a person being freedom of speech and although you DO have the right to be hateful doesn't mean you should go out and exercise it just to get undo attention. So far all I see from Ms. Palin and the Tea Party is denying such things happened instead of trying to correct them from happening again, which I'm sure they will.

    March 29, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. Proud DEM

    All we need to see and hear is from your illustrious leader..Sister Sarah, which speaks volume of who and what this party is about....don't give me that garbage, that you don't have a spokes person or leader...why is Sister Sarah at so many events?? (I'm sure it has to do with the money they are paying her) Anyway, this cult, not a movement will fade away come November, when the Repubs will eat each other up trying to figure out what their party is all about...are we Teapublicans or Republicans? One last thing...where were you little partiers 8 years ago when W. was running the show?? Just curious....

    March 29, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  14. Matt

    The problem with the Tea Party is not that they're 'uneducated hillbillies', its that their message smacks of hatred, intolerance, and Sara Palin.

    I'm all for holding government accountable, but by and large, these people are simply just anti liberal. They believe liberals should be extinct, and I'm sorry, but half of our country is liberal, and half is conservative. Traditionally, the two balance eachother out. They seem to have some ideas straight out of "Highlander", that in the end, there can be only one party, and they think it should be theirs.

    I'd say to the Tea Partiers, if you want to be the new Republican party, please feel free to do so, but do not claim to be the 'majority' when you're not. The 'majority' of people in this country elected our president and our congress, and simply because that philosophy does not jive with them, does not give them the right to throw a huge hissy fit.

    Call the Tea Party what it really is. A bunch of people who do not like to tolerate ideas that differ from their own... ohhh whats that called, Oh yeah, its called fascism.

    -Matt

    March 29, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  15. Renee

    Sounds like a fairly accurate discription to me, other then they forgot racist, violent, idiots. Oh, please let them run that brainless, bimbo Sarah Palin for their candidate in 2012. It would give SNL so much material!

    March 29, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  16. Fitz In Texas

    Hey CNN....how about reporting how the deaths have doubled in Obama's war. Maybe you should give a little coverage to our brave men and women in the military.

    GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    March 29, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  17. get real

    The tea party should make a stand against big government by traveling around this fine country without using federally funded highways. They should dismiss all police protection and should eat only at unregulated restaurants.

    March 29, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  18. Jeff in Houston

    Then why do so many of the things you embrace relate to a mind set that most educated people evolved away from a long time ago? I have no problem with your protesting government spending and the like, but your social agenda is nothing short of medievalism. Some of us work hard to try and contribute to a progressive, educated, enlightened America. We understadn that change is going to occur. Not one of us can scream loud enough to stop the sun from coming up in the morning. But we can choose to accept change as it inevitabley must occur, and be a part of it, influence it, and find the good in it. You guys want uis to go back beleiveing the world is flat, and not all of us plan on going back to living in caves with you people. I have common ground with you on a number of things, but you will never get my support until you enter the 21st century with respect to social issues.

    March 29, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. tim

    "I want him to grow up in the same country I grew up in..."

    Really? Because that would mean we need to take away the internet, satellites, advancements in medicine, and a whole lot of neat things the 'New America' has come to love. Grow up and stop griping already! Times change and you either change with them.... or join the Tea Party apparently.

    Tim
    Minneapolis, MN

    March 29, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  20. Sgt. USMC

    THAT'S NOT TRUE...

    I have never thought of them as "a bunch of hillbillies with no teeth"...

    March 29, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  21. RC

    Ms Butler seems adament that her fellow grassroots activists aren't "stupid". OK, but that may be debatable. Unanswered is the allegation that her party is made up of "hillbillies with no teeth". Well Ms Butler?

    March 29, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  22. Steve-O

    Not stupid. Just paranoid, angry, intolerant, sanctimonious and gullible. Oh- and apparently financially stable enough to spend weeks on a bus tour to go around participating in hate-filled scream-fests. Try a book sometime. Settle down, read a little, give the world a break from you.

    March 29, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  23. T'SAH from Virginia

    First of all – how could the Tea Party be 'grassroot' when they're able to travel all over the country and not work????? Who's paying for it all???

    Also, the Tea Party started off LOUD and ROWDY; they brought GUNS to rallies and shouted out RACIST and BIGOT slurs and it ended up hurting their cause!!!

    Okay, if that was NOT the so-called Tea Party Ms. Butler is talking about then the "...bunch of hillbillies with no teeth... stupid...." people they allowed to CLING along with them and help with their MESSAGE cannot be blamed. They NEVER repudiating their actions – therefore, they are part of their actions!!!

    March 29, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  24. Raj

    If the Tea Party speaker invitees are likes of Palin then I need to question their IQ and agenda. As long as their agenda matches the extreme right wing of RNC, then they will not have many supporters. And they can keep going to their "red states" and keep loosing the young "educated" voters.

    March 29, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  25. BobH

    If the Tea Party could be specific about that they want, then maybe people would take them seriously. When they say "less taxes, and less government" what is it specifically that they want cut? If they would like to reduce taxes and balance the budget, they need to suggest cuts in the hundreds of billions per year.

    The health care bill is $90B per year, if they want to ignore the fact that it's revenue neutral. TARP was about $80B per year, but estimates are now that it will cost no more than $150B over ten years– so that's $15B per year. Where else do they plan to cut? What is their plan for healthcare? How about social security? Aside from the fact that they're generally angry, what is it that they stand for?

    March 29, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
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