November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
12 months ago

Ted Cruz responds to father's 'ill-advised joke'

(CNN) – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is accusing critics of smear tactics after they attacked his father for saying President Obama should go "back to Chicago, back to Kenya" at an event last year.

Even as he dismissed his father’s comments as a “joke” and ill-advised, he said critics were motivated as much by politics as by genuine outrage.

Speaking to CNN affiliate WFAA on Friday, the first-term Republican senator from Texas said, "sadly, those who are trying to play the politics of personal destruction are trying to smear him and use that to attack me. That's a shame."

"I love my father," said Cruz. "He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity. And he made a joke."

Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, is an influential figure in his own right and is known for his outspoken conservative positions. He has attracted a following among tea party activists and social conservatives, and he has campaigned alongside his son on many occasions.

The controversial remarks were captured in a video first posted on the left-leaning news website Mother Jones on Thursday. The website posted that video, along with several other videos of Rafael Cruz addressing conservative groups, and the comments quickly circulated online, drawing criticism from liberals.

Sen. Cruz's statement to WFAA marks his strongest reaction so far to his father's critics.

A spokeswoman for the senator previously declined to offer comment about the elder Cruz's statements, instead referring CNN to a statement that Cruz Communications Director Sean Rushton gave to Mother Jones.

"These selective quotes, taken out of context, mischaracterize the substance of Pastor Cruz's message. Like many Americans, he feels America is on the wrong track," Rushton said in the statement, adding, "Pastor Cruz does not speak for the Senator."

Rafael Cruz's remarks are reminiscent of the so-called birther movement, led by influential figures such as Donald Trump, who have suggested that Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible to be president.

Obama responded to those critics in 2011 by releasing his long-form birth certificate, which shows that he was born in Hawaii.


Filed under: Ted Cruz
soundoff (1,052 Responses)
  1. Rick

    Yes, it may have been an ill advised joke but it shows how the right wing tea party minds think. Would anyone be surprised if he also said Obama was a muslim or gay? ofcourse not. The Tea party and their koch brother overlords just want to oppose and destroy anything Obama does and public jokes like this is just a symptom.

    November 2, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. Greg

    What's that about "the apple does not fall far from the tree" or "Like father like son."..LOL

    November 2, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. Jose Delia

    The fruit does not fall from the tree

    November 2, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Cruz did not invent smear tactics, but he got an 'A' in the course. Calling his dad a man of integrity is about as far from the truth as you can get. For a man of the cloth, Rafael has no understanding of some of the basic tenets of Christianity.

    November 2, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Now I know where t. cruz gets his nastiness from ... he can dish it out but can't take it, same as all abusive persons

    November 2, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. GGVT

    "Even as he dismissed his father’s comments as a “joke” and ill-advised, he said critics were motivated as much by politics as by genuine outrage." <<-- this somehow is an American first? Being motivated by politics??? I watched the video... strange that I didn't see a smile on the father's face while he told "the joke" nor did I hear laughter from the audience... so was it simply a "bad joke?"....

    November 2, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Tampa Tim

    Cruz and Castro have a lot in common besides being Cubans.

    November 2, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Lloyd Parker

    Cruz's dad came from Cuba. He was born Canadian. How many countries did it take to create this person? Would one of them please take him because he's really destroying our country. Maybe we should offer a bribe to any foreign govt willing to adopt him.

    November 2, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Mark

    I'd like to send the Senator's dad back to Cuba and his worthless son back to Canada...HA HA HA!!!!!!!

    November 2, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. George

    Oh, and there is a good Christain pastor. NOT !!!

    November 2, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Jack in Florida

    Ted Cruz is an ill advised joke, himself. Today's modern day three stooges are Cruz, Paul and Rubio. God help us all!!

    November 2, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. carl

    First of all, Ted Cruz or his father weren't even born in United States. Ted Rafael is from Canada and his father is from Cuba. Second, this guy is a pastor? what kind of hateful statement is he making saying that the Pressident of the US should go back to Kenya. Obama was born in the US, these two idiots need to go back to their country. The Republican party is all messed up.

    November 2, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. lincoln

    So-called pastor makes jokes of the devil not the President of the United States! Hey Cruz it hurts when the shoes is thrown at your father despite the many efforts you used to bang other people.

    November 2, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Gary

    Anyone ever told a joke before? Watch the Video... Don't know how you tell a joke but I've never seen someone start a joke like that.

    November 2, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. kalo

    Ha ha I get it, he isn't really a racist and we should still vote for him!

    November 2, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. S

    I wish Ted Cruz et al would go back to Cuba. Ha ha just a joke...Not.

    November 2, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. T E X A S

    Yes the attack was political...just like your attacks Ted. Don't be a crybaby.

    November 2, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. speltomqt

    Men of deep integrity don't make this sort of "joke."

    The real joke is that a man who fought for Castro in the Revolution would have the gall to tell an American, born in this country, to go anywhere.

    November 2, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Agim

    A "joke", eh?
    "attacking my father"?
    How about your father attacking the father of Sasha & Malia?

    Since when it is a so-called 'joke' to join the racist gang that has been targeting Obama as non-American for YEARS now?

    The first goal of this so-called 'joke' is to ISOLATE OBAMA from 'Americans'.
    The second goal of the racist joke is to 'deal with the outsider'!

    The real joke is that Cruz would not have shut down the government of HIS COUNTRY, Canada, and caused so much dislocation, increased poverty for many Americans, and BILLION$ of loss to the nation!

    November 2, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Charlie Harvell

    It's all a joke to this bozo.

    November 2, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. ester7

    Now we know what the Cruz family table chatter is. Like father like son.

    November 2, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. bob

    Cruz's father fought for Castro's forces in Cuba.

    November 2, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. Gwiz

    Cruz is a joke hes one 24 percent of americans in the so called birther movement when he himself is was actually not born here he was born in canada to an american mother and cuban father . obama couldve been born anywhere in the world and since his mother was an american hes an american citizen but he was born in hawaii and also he was part of a christian congregation for more than 20 years . so there goes him being a muslim. the cruz family is nothing but a bunch of RADICAL RIGHT WING CONSERVATIVES that are more concerned in politicizing everything from a government shutdown to the so called birther movement to a 20 hr pseudo filibuster than when somebody finds proof that they are right wing nut jobs they go nuts. we even have cruz and palin at a confederate rally. and dont even denounce the kind of right wing sentiment that somehow this country has a dictator in charge maybe he needs to take a trip to his hispanic roots and see a real dictator. but i do want him as the republican candidate so we can keep the presidency for another 4 years cause he'll only win texas.

    November 2, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Cheryl

    Rafael Cruz should go back to Cuba and his son should retreat back to Canada. We don't need either of them.

    November 2, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. puravidame

    A joke? is that how he is trying to get out of this one? calling it a joke? Try a racist remark or very inappropriate comment; coming from a Cuban immigrant. His father should led by example; if he wants Obama sent back to Kenya why doesn't he get on a plane and head back to Cuba as wel?

    November 2, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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