Fourteen-year-old Tricia Willoughby gave a speech at a podium on the steps of the Capital building in Madison, Wisconsin to a Tea Party rally on Sunday, and videos of her speech -- and opposition protesters yelling and cursing at her -- took the Internet by storm. ABC News spoke with Willoughby, who said she respects the right of others to protest and air their views, but thinks the tactics used on Sunday were beneath American dignity.
A video taken from the crowd of several hundred people during Willoughby's speech shows an anti-Tea Party protester yelling obscenities, making obscene gestures and screaming "Go home, you little brat!" at Willoughby. The protester's identity is not known.
Willoughby's speech, although arguably partisan, did not include any personal attacks. Instead, she called on Americans to come together to lower the federal deficit, which she believes can be done by cutting spending and lowering taxes.
"When that particular man was screaming obscenities at me, he wasn't criticizing my logic, he wasn't criticizing what I was saying, he was just saying I was a little brat and I should go home because I was simply a member of the opposing side up at the podium," Willoughby said. "My first reaction was actually to laugh. I was shocked that he was so immature that he was screaming crazy things at me and not listening to what I was saying."
Willoughby said she believes that everyone has the right to protest, but she does not think that what happened on Sunday was the way to do it. "They do have every right to come and protest our rally, I just think they could have done it in a more polite way," she said.
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The young activist said she has had a passion for politics for as long as she can remember. Growing up, she said her parents, Bret and Nancy, urged her and her sisters to take an active interest in the way the government is run.
"My dad has always been interested in politics … growing up he always encouraged us to be active in our government and get out there and make a voice no matter how young we were," she said. "I remember when we were very little, like 7 to 9 years old, we would actually go to our local voting station and polled people on their way out." Her two older sisters, Malika, 19, and Laina, 17, have also spoken at Tea Party rallies in the past.
She said she thinks it is important for all young people to get involved, even if they can't vote yet.
"I would encourage my fellow peers to get their voices heard, but it's different for everybody how they can do that. Some people won't want to get up to the podium and speak … maybe they will want to work behind the scenes at the political campaign office and not have to make contact with people," she said. "How you do that can be different for everybody, but definitely get involved."
As much as she is active in politics, she said she is not interested in running for office in the future. "I don't think I exactly want to make politics my career. I am very, very interested in becoming a nurse, but I will always be active in politics," she said.