By Linda Feldmann, / Staff writer
posted March 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm EST
CNBC financial reporter Rick Santelli had just blasted the Obama administration’s plan to help homeowners facing foreclosure, and called for a “tea party” protest in Chicago. The idea caught fire around the country, and soon Ms. Gass, a 40-something real estate agent, was organizing weekly street-corner demonstrations in her hometown of Orinda, Calif.
Her focus was fiscal discipline, aimed not just at the $75 billion mortgage bailout but also the administration’s $787 billion stimulus package and President Obama’s budget. She remembers her first signs well: “Stop printing money” and “China owns us.” By Congress’s summer recess, when opposition to Mr. Obama’s healthcare plan burst forth, she had 100 people protesting on street corners, she says.
Fast-forward to February 2010. Gass is still out there every Friday, her 6-year-old son in tow. Political operatives are calling her up for advice. Her roster of influential tea party activists – “Heather’s list,” as local politicos call it – is creating buzz. “We’re not dangerous,” says Gass. “We’re your neighbors. But we’ve been underground. We’re not underground anymore.”
Gass says she’s beyond anger over the direction of the country and is in “action mode.” Whatever it’s called, that intensity of feeling – the passion that led her to travel last month to the Tea Party Convention in Nashville and that drives her to tears when she worries out loud about the America her son’s generation will inherit – is unmistakable. Read more…