November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
10 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. exgovemployee@gmail.com

    Ah, yes. Let the spin begin-Ted's dad was not joking in any way. As a pastor, he is a poor excuse for a Christian-like a whole lot of them these days. There's a lot of hypocrites claiming to be religious these days.

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

    I am sorry, Mr. Cruz, that was not a joke, that was pure racism. That's why in the Tea Party you don't see any minority.

    November 2, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. gee

    Cruz still ranting.

    November 2, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. markfromdover

    The only "joke" he made was YOU!

    November 2, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. jeff

    The Fruitcake doesn't fall from the tree

    November 2, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Boston Guy

    So, he's a racist pastor. GOP'er are too stupid to keep their mouths shut and then cry when they are called out on the stupid things they say. Ted Cruz ""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." So, what was big daddy Cruz doing to Obama? These people are just dumb.

    November 2, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Jimjam77887

    Joke, oh ya... That's it! We'll say it was just a joke. They'll believe that....

    November 2, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. john defreitas

    sorry, but there was nothing taken out of context. what i saw and heard was a about a minute long clip.

    November 2, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. June

    Yes, to Ted it's a joke and to his father it's a joke and that it is a joke to them both says it all. But it's not a funny joke, Guys. We aren't laughing. We're just listening and saying "Who's surprised that that's a joke to them?"

    November 2, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. midnitejax

    So now it's a joke because Cruz's father blatantly played the Kenyan card while he (father) himself used bribery to get a visa to enter the US from Cuba? And now Ted Cruz wants to run for POTUS while being born in Canada? The TeaParty becomes more of the Toilet Paper Party, they have exposed themselves for the liars and cheats they are. Bachmann profits handsomely from farm subsidies while her so called husband makes his living off of Social Security through payments for trying to convert gays to strait.Cruz's father is a bigot, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

    November 2, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. jeff

    The Fruitcake doesn't fall far from the tree

    November 2, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. Paul

    I didn't hear father Cruz say it was a joke. Care to ask him?

    November 2, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Psymetric

    Who is practicing "the politics of personal destruction?" Pastor Cruz!

    November 2, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Robert N. constant

    Ted Cruz must think the American public are stupid. In 2012 when his father said at s Conservative speaking event that President Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya, these same Republican talking points were being used, especially on Fundamentalist Christian Voters in rural areas throughout the Red States. This went hand in hand with the Trump birther charges, equally mean spirited lies.
    Thousands of trusting, honest rural people who have been duped by Hate Radio, and Fox News and the anti government message of the Right Wing still believe this. This is one more instance of this slippery, slimy self interested demagogue lying to the American People.
    Next week we will have an opportunity to vote out every Republican on the ballot who thinks this is a joke.

    November 2, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. babooph

    The Cruz crew make more sense when they speak in toungues...

    November 2, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. ExtremeIT

    The only ill advised joke here is Ted Cruz

    November 2, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. truttman

    Send Ted Cruz back to Canada, where he was born.

    November 2, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. Tommy_D_Cosmology

    Typical Republicans of our day: bigoted religious zealots and selfish people who don't seem to notice or mind the bigots so much.

    November 2, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. detroitmommy

    Well at least now we all know where he get's it from.

    November 2, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. Lars

    Send Rafael and Ted back to Cuba!

    November 2, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. truttman

    And his father can go back to Cuba, where he was born.

    November 2, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. Dutch Schults

    Ted cruz's father is not a " man of deep integrity."...he is a petty stupid person ...period. And as far as Ted, his ivy education only goes to show that memorization and good testing abilities are more important than intelligence to go these schools.....see he is stupid too.

    November 2, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  23. Robert N. constant

    The Tea Party darling, Ted Cruz , must think the American public do not know better. . In 2012 when his father said at s Conservative speaking event that President Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya, these same Republican talking points were being used, especially on Fundamentalist Christian Voters in rural areas throughout the Red States. This went hand in hand with the Trump birther charges, equally mean spirited.
    Thousands of trusting, honest rural people who have been duped by Right Wing Radio, and Fox News and the anti government message of the Tea Party still believe this. This is one more instance of this self interested demagogue twisting the truth when talking to the American People.
    Next week we will have an opportunity to vote out every Republican on the ballot who thinks this is a joke.

    November 2, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. KorfuTheDefiler

    The loon-ball voters who voted this idiot in think just like his Cuban-Canadian family. I don't know why he's covering–he's never, ever going to get elected to a national office. Too bad Texans aren't smart enough to see a joke when it's looking right at them from a pudgy, smarmy face.

    November 2, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Higvar! God of War.

    We will soon not be discussing his name. Wingnut.

    November 2, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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