November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
6 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. M.I. Snow

    Rafael Cruz's "joke" was not ill-timed or ill-advised as his forked-tongued spawn would have us believe; the man was speaking from his beliefs and his conscious which is deep-rooted in racism. I live in Miami, and have many Cuban friends and acquaintances whose parents are from the the same generation as the elder Cruz, and hearing such vitriol towards the president or in general, towards African-Americans, is commonplace. I will never forget some of these "jokes" uttered (in Cuban-Spanish) in my presence: "In Cuba we didn't have a racism problem... the blacks knew to stay on their side of the street" or the vile "the only good black is a dead black." The hypocricy of the latter "joke" was that the gentleman uttering it owed his american "success story" to a convenience store he owned in the middle of a predominantly African-American neighborhood. NO TED, your father and good pastor, was speaking from his absolute conviction and deep-rooted racism.

    November 2, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. Fish

    Cruz and his dad are both jokes and cruel ones at that!!! These are simply two people who attract crowds like carnival barkers offering nothing but gimmicks and rhetoric in a flim-flam operation to gain funding for themselves to continue mis-leading their brain dead followers!!!

    November 2, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. coolvfx

    your dad is a man of no integrity

    November 2, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. NameFrank Deery

    Good for Sen Cruz's dad. He spoke for sooo
    many Americans! Now!
    Obama is DIsaster, liberal media, who helped an inept President
    succeed to a disasterous second term. Our once strong nation is now imploding, from Oakland to LAX, to a "signature" legislative
    Flop, and you go after s private citizen?

    November 2, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. me

    Ted Cruz continues to show his true colors, as does his dad... a Cuban who comes to this country, enriches himself and insults the POTUS of the country that gave him all he has (except life itself). Like father, like son... it's one thing to not agree with the direction the POTUS is taking the country, that is one thing that makes this country great, but as an immigrant who makes racist jokes, or a man who tries to derail the US economy for the sake of his own agenda and defends such comments is absolutely sickening. It's no wonder the GOP is swirling in the bowl... If they don't like it, Cuba is a short boat ride back, don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you...

    November 2, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. peacedog

    the crown prince of goldman-sachs dodges yet another bullet. as for his father, it appears as though his comment can be taken as a slur in one context or another. if he is indeed a man of the cloth, and he is speaking politics, i hope his church now loses their tax exemption and has to pay taxes. though the dems have failed miserably, and the republicans have absolutely no direction, the tea party has become a party of haters and bigots.

    November 2, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Alan2236

    "Politics of Personal Destruction"? Well I guess that Ted Cruz would be the expert in that department!!

    November 2, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. And the beat goes on...

    just wait until you're on the receiving end of one of these 'jokes'...

    November 2, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. Big_D

    GO back to Cuba? We know who the one lacking the made in the USA label is.

    November 2, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. Floyd from Illinois

    Always amusing hen a Con gets caught being a jackas, it's somehow 'a joke' and shouldn't be taken seriously.

    The only way what Cruz said shouldn't be taken seriously would have been for him not to say it.

    November 2, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. Relictus

    Senator Cruz, we are not laughing. Stop with the excuses already.

    November 2, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. Last Iconoclast

    The Cruz' need to be sent back to Cuba.

    November 2, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Howard

    When was the last time you heard someone tell a joke they DIDN'T think was funny? A person's choice of "humor" is usually a revealing window into his or her own psychological makeup and personal prejudices. If you aren't really a "birther," then what is the point in telling a "birther" joke?

    By the way, I didn't hear anyone laughing at that joke. Either that audience didn't think it was funny, or they thought it was true.

    November 2, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Billy

    Making bitter, racist jokes about the president....what integrity this man has shown....

    I really hope Cruz fades away soon – obviously not the caliber of person we need in public office.

    November 2, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Jenny

    It may have been a joke to Pastor Cruz but it was wrong, period.

    November 2, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Jenni

    His dad wasn't making a joke. A good number of Tea Partiers really think it or suspect it. To them Obama was born in Kenya, is a Muslim, and is a communist. Most will go to the grave with those beliefs, and that's why they believed their shutting down the government was justified. They are ideologues.

    November 2, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. NameElinor Mullins

    Now we know where Sen. Cruz got his idiotic & damaging ideas from.

    November 2, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  18. Ash

    I guess I'm confused is slavery part of the tea party agenda

    November 2, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Ruby

    Sadly, I recall a time when the President of the United States was respected, and we had (sometimes grudging) respect for our Congress people. They in turn respected us, the people whom they served.
    I miss those days.

    November 2, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. jimmiek

    Pastor Cruz's remarks are no more taken out of context then Senator Rafael Edward's use of selected quotes from the Jimmy Hoffa Jr. letter. that Hoffa asked the Senator to stop using. If it is fair game for the Senator to use snippets of others, then snippits of his father's statements are fair game too. You are in Politics Senator Rafael – Get use to it!

    November 2, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Liz

    What sort of man of integrity says stuff like that even as a joke? Pastor's that spit vile hateful speech of any sort don't deserve to be a person representing god's word.

    November 2, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. pappy

    Him and his father are the joke.

    November 2, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. edpeters101

    ""I love my father," said Cruz. "He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity. And he made a joke."".. No, Ted's father is a joke! Amd just barely outdoes his son...

    November 2, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. T

    ...........Now that Obama has been impeached, moved to his homeland of Kenya, the Cruz/Palin ticket has won the White House, the ACA is gone, the House and Senate are heavily Tea Party ruled, government spending has been CUT by 75%, Social Security is for those 90 and older, Medicare is history, the Armed Forced reduced to 10,000 Army with 25 tanks, one operational aircraft carrier and the rest mothballed, the boarders completely fenced and moated, all food and water inspections halted, the FDA, EPA,CDC all dismissed, the Capitol Building has been renamed the Koch Brothers Memorial Building for $10 million "donation"........
    .
    ......and the unemployment rate is 74%........
    .
    ......................the Tea Party announced it has reached NIRVANA...........

    November 2, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. DJ

    "He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity."

    But not above stirring the waters of hate.
    Some joke....quite the funny guy! Pandering to the evil in people.
    Can't you just imagine (I'm assuming he's Christian) that Jesus would have said the same.

    November 2, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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