November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
9 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. Flecka

    Cruz, enough back peddling please. Flipping a joke like 'back to Kenya' does not demonstrate kindness or ntegrity in any way.

    November 2, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. Michael Benjamin

    Cruz is a verifiable Cuban refugee. How about sending him back to his home country?

    November 2, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. DERASA

    That quote we hear coming over and over from one side of the Republican Party. It is not a joke. Deep down is pure racism. We know what it means. Nobody keep saying to Senator Ted Cruz go back to Cuba. That kind of joke will pop up in every campaign Ted Cruz is involve from now on..Good luck..Your dad buried you and your extremism for good.

    November 2, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Steven Inselberg

    "We're not racists. We just want the racists to vote for us."

    November 2, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. trent

    Let's be honest Obama hasn't exactly help America. He has split this nation in two with a health care bill that is not only useless but I.predict will worsen our economic problems. Props to Cruz's dad for saying the truth. The only reason he is under fire is because he had the strength to say what the majority of Americans feel.

    November 2, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. Robert N. constant

    Ted Cruz is a joke.

    November 2, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Joan Wheeler

    Ha! Cruz, a Cuban emmigrant, telling Obama, who was born in Hawaii, U.S.A., to go back to Kenya. That takes the cake. All these right-wing-nuts are crazies. LIke father, like son; they are hypocrites and liars and a blight upon the country. They are like smears of excrement upon the land. I have nothing against Cuban emmigrants, but we could do without this one.

    November 2, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Malcolm In St. Louis

    The apple does not roll far from the tree. I think the same concept applies to nuts....

    November 2, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Tom

    Need to send his dad back to Cuba and him back to Canada...........

    November 2, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. Mike B

    Man these tea party types REALLY need to get out of the comedy business.

    November 2, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. Theodore Cruise

    A man of deep integrity and a pastor making a joke about someone's ethnicity? Yeah, that sounds about right.

    November 2, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. Cherie

    And Ted Cruz was born where? Oh yeah . . . Canada. Send him back

    November 2, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. bill

    sorry, it was no joke. it came from his dark soul and a pastor at that.

    November 2, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. gofer22

    And Cuban-Canadian Ted and his looooser dad can go back to freakin Cuba.

    November 2, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. BO

    Ted Cruz's fatherbis right.

    November 2, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Sorry, Senator, it was not a joke. It was a hate-filled insult to the president of a free country, twice elected by the majority of its people. In any other country, he would have been deported. He is new citizen with no respect for the will of the people. There are civilized ways to conduct political discourse, you both need to find them. Somewhere in your upbringing, common decency and courtesy went missing.

    November 2, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Dean Martin

    "These selective quotes, taken out of context"
    How exactly is a statement saying go back to Kenya out of context?
    It's obvious that Ted's dad is a racist and probably raised him the same way.

    November 2, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. ap

    Does Ted Cruze's will go beck to country where his parents and grand parents came from !!

    November 2, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. Robert N. constant

    At the time Republican politicians all over the South were telling their voters the same thing. They were not in joking mode. The statement that President Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya was used by Republicans wherever they thought rural voters would believe them and scorn the President. No, Teddy, we do not believe your dad was joking. He was engaging in Republican "dirty tricks."

    November 2, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  20. A poni

    sorry, but people of intregity, let alone "deep" integrity don't make "jokes" like this. This is the USA not Cuba – you're the one behind the smear tatics – of the USA President. Go back to Cuba and practice your communism there.

    November 2, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. Fire the GOP

    It's no so much the joke that offends me. It's that Cruz's father is supposed to be a Pastor and a servant of Christ....but he actively campaigns against programs like Obamacare that would serve to help the needy and the poor of this country.

    November 2, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Doug Ramerth

    Apology not accepted. I'm tired of that kind of political diatribe. Startle me by saying something gracious and intelligent.

    November 2, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. CoolCMo

    I inherited some nice cuff links and a watch from my dad. Looks like Ted Cruz inherited a white sheet and a pointy hood.

    November 2, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. KRJ9

    If someone insulted his father and told him to go back to Cuba, he would come unglued. You people in Texas should be ashamed you voted him into office

    November 2, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. joseph

    Joke or no joke....there is no room in politics or within the general public to make such wise cracks. They are not funny, they are not jokes, and should have no place in our rhetoric ......especially from pastors who should know better. One just needs to look at the tape and see the applause he got....from folks who believed every word he says.
    Also if it was just a joke then I also assume the comment about the President being a socialist is also a joke.

    Joe

    November 2, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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