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Tea Party 'godmother' stood alone at the beginning

By Shannon Travis, CNN Political Producer
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The Tea Party's 'godmother'
  • In February 2009, Mary Rakovich stood alone and spoke against president's spending plan
  • Some in Tea Party say she was one of the first to publicly protest Obama's economic policies
  • Though she rails against government spending, she does rely on Medicare
  • But she says that Medicare and Medicaid "need to be revived and revamped"

(CNN) -- Before there was a Tea Party, there was Mary Rakovich.

Rakovich is an anti-abortion rights, pro-environment vegetarian living in Florida with her husband and nine cats.

Many Tea Party activists believe she was one of the first people to publicly protest President Obama's economic policies.

In February 2009, Obama was in a Fort Myers, Florida, event hall pitching his stimulus plan. Rakovich stood alone outside the hall, speaking against it. For that, she is considered to be a sort of "Godmother" of the Tea Party movement.

Nine days after Rakovich's protest, CNBC business reporter Rick Santelli publicly mounted his own campaign against the president's $75 billion plan to help struggling homeowners. It happened as Santelli reported live from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on February 19, 2009.

"The government is promoting bad behavior," he said in a tirade, claiming that all Americans would be forced to "subsidize the losers' mortgages."

The stimulus bill "had nothing to do with job creation whatsoever," Rakovich said in an interview with CNN last summer.

And though she rails against government spending, Rakovich relies on one of the biggest spending programs, Medicare, to care for her two bad hips.

"I do believe that there are times when we need the government to have some type of stopgap measures to help get people back on their feet," Rakovich said. "Those types of people need help. I also believe that as an overall system, that Medicare, as well as Medicaid, they're broken systems -- they are systems that need to be revived and revamped."

"You know, I'm very glad that it was there for me and will be there for me."