March 29th, 2010
11:10 PM ET
4 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. Sabretooth

    How can they be smarter and more conservative if they are paying Palin $100,000 a pop to speak to them? First get a political figure who actually knows what they are talking about. Second, be honest with yourself

    March 29, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Why is CNN spending some much time and $ resources on following a band of Republican activists? I mean really having a CNN bus follow them around 24/7? Bit much

    March 29, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. StacyT

    The Tea Party is going to divide this country. It is one thing to passionate about a cause but when part of your hateful message is because of race we will have bigger problems then the economy, jobs and heathcare.

    March 29, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom

    These poor people are believing their own lies. They are SO afraid, that American has shifted to the sane middle! They are afraid of a Black president! They are scared that President Obama WILL SUCCEED!

    Once upon a time the Republicans had Joseph McCarthy, who went on a witch hunt to "out" communists. This man's legacy is still alive in the Republican party........ with Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and the worst of all...... Beck!

    BEWARE America of small angry, scared groups, the Nazis began as a small group of angry, scared people!

    March 29, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  5. AndyBlue

    i never called them stupid........

    They are Glen Beck, Palin, Limbaugh followers of ignorance and hatred with a good chunk of racist.

    What do they expect with their misspelled signs, screaming hatred, spitting on people and calling people the "n" word.

    Not to meantion their leader Sarah Palin, the republican VP nomination, proves beyond a doubt they are idiots.

    But I never called them "stupid".

    March 29, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  6. Erik

    Everything will be different from when you're a kid. You're innocent as a child. When you get older, you become more cynical. That's the way of the world. The world isn't getting worse, your feelings about the world are.

    March 29, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Jim in San Mateo

    To quote: "We are well versed. And I think we're smarter than what we've been sending to represent us in Congress."

    This is not saying much, given the say the Republicans and some Democrats have been acting.

    The Tea Party people are wanting to turn this country into a nation of haves and have-nots. The have-nots are (and never have been) left to fend for themselves. We as a society take care of each other. It's a principle upon which this great nation was founded.

    The Tea Partyers have forgotten the old (and well proved) maxim: United We Stand and Divided We Fall. The Tea Partyers are the ultimate "all about me" group.

    March 29, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  8. molly

    I'm sure not every person in the Tea Party movement is ignorant but I can assure you that the ones I have seen pictured in my town's newspaper are not the type of people that you go "Yeah, that's exactly who I want to decide things about my country!" I haven't seen one who has a college education (not that only people who go to college are smart!) but give me a break. Most of them are ignorant red-necks who don't have a clue!

    March 29, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  9. I am Newt Limebaugh

    Let me get this message out to you Tea Party folks over 65 and are receiving Social Security checks (that you are traveling around on) and your Medicare coverage......cut out the hypocrisy of running your mouth about Socialism...what do you think Social Security and Medicare are??????....If you really want reform let the government know that you don't want your checks and medical coverage anymore........you big bunch of hypocrites!!!!!!!

    Oh yeah....I forgot....take that lying loud mouth broad Palin with you....she is just another right wing nutjob getting rich off your closed minded ideas

    March 29, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  10. annie s

    She wants her son to grow up in a country that invades sovereign nations for no reason, that values corporate profits above human life and that doesn't want to see America be competitive in the 21st Century? Go figure.

    March 29, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. Frank

    Why is CNN folowing these people around? They are not relevant.
    CNN is just promoting hate.

    March 29, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  12. ronalde

    i would like know where these people come from,don't they have jobs,what is the makeup of the roaming tea party are they old,student reteired or what who are paying for them to travelall over the country.I mean i don't have a job and i can't aford to do this.

    March 29, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  13. stop the nonsense

    If Miss Butler was referring to who Conservatives were sending to Congress, she is correct- they probably are smarter.
    They are probably well versed in the ideolgy taught them by Glenn Beck and Rush Limbough because there is no other explanation for the things they say and the signs they hold up..
    I also agree that they are not toothless, however, if you look at pictures for the group, you won't find a minority or rarely will you see a face under 50.

    March 29, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. Jeff - Sarasota, FL

    They can say whatever they want, but any PERSON or GROUP who thinks Sarah Palin knows what is best for this country can't be very intelligent... How can people say they are educated and intelligent when they will blindly follow a person who is PROVEN to be ignorant in politics and what is really happening in the world/nation (AKA Sarah Palin)...

    March 29, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. art wolff

    The country you grew up in was racist and sexist and homophobic.As long as the American people oppose those prejudices the politicians have to follow suit sooner or later.
    America can be great without being governed by hate,fear and economic greed. Racism and homophobia are in danger of being old fashion and obsolete.Let us fix the hate filled,fear mongering government and then see if it is too big.
    President Obama is not perfect but America elected him according to our constitution.Support him and America.

    March 29, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  16. Mr. American

    Should SS and Medicare be repealed also?

    March 29, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  17. normajean

    I've been around a lot longer than this lady and I can tell you that I have never seen anything as disgusting and un American as the 'Tea Partiers:. These people show NO respect for their country nor their duly elected president, with their disgraceful and provocative signs. If someone is killed because of the venimous attitude of these crowds, it will be on their heads.I find it hard to believe that people living a free and relatively good life in the best country in the world, where,with your own effort you can be or do almost anything you want, can take such a hateful attitude. You all have a roof over your heads, clothes, food, a future, if you;re willing to work for it. They try to help you stay well and you spit in their faces and call them names.Maybe you 'd like Iran better.

    March 29, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  18. David-Lewisville, Texas

    Do these people work? How can they travel all over the country spreading rediculous lies? It seems like most of these people are the one who have the most to gain from government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and now health care. Its ironic that they would oppose the very programs that would help them the most.

    March 29, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. Denise

    "We are not stupid."

    Well, stupid is as stupid does, missy.

    March 29, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  20. Brian phoenix

    Well, when you are seen spitting on a person with Parkinsons disease on national television....one has to ask ones self....just who you hateful, mean spirited people are....certainly no group I would want to be associated with. More "family values"...right.

    March 29, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. carlos

    but when they were in Nebraska at Sen. H.Reid home town, they were sent through a dirt road to a dirt lot......that is where the alaska hag tried her speech........so let us just say, DIRT goes with DIRT

    March 29, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. EBC

    Really? Have the Tea Party Activist LOOKED at the signs being displayed at their own rallies? I mean really?

    75% of them are grammatically WRONG, SPELLING is atrocious AND doesn't appear to be a focus. WHY on earth would we think these folks are UN-EDUCATION, INARTICULATE and ILLITERATE? Hummmmm....

    Let's see, the phrase "are you smarter than a 5th grader" comes to mind.

    March 29, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  23. TLFTHEGREAT

    While it is apparent that the leaders of the Tea Party Movement aren't uneducated and clueless as to the processes of government, it is also obvious that many members of the movement are. When they display signs saying "Keep government out of our Medicare," then there is an obvious lack knowledge existing on the subject. Even in calling it a Tea Party, there is a lack of attention toward the historical facts of the Boston Tea Party.

    March 29, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  24. Larry Kraus

    has anyone told those that represent the tea party that every republican since ronny raygun has ran up the deficit while the democrats have hel the deficit in check? the only democrat that has ran up the deficit is President Obama and he had to to avoid another great depression that "W" had us heading into? all you TEA PARTY PEOPLE need to get the facts straight before you blame everything on the democrats.

    March 29, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  25. thomas

    By this time next year, most of the Tea Party's leaders will be undergoing interrogation in Gitmo for terrorism

    March 29, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
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