March 30th, 2010
05:34 AM 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.


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