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. MAXIE ELLISON

    Both should go back to Cuba and climb back in the hole they came out of

    November 2, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. rob

    "Outrage"??? Seriously?? Look up the definition of outrage and put it in context to this CNN caliber "news story". Liberal blowhards.
    Hell, I don't care where that liar is from. He should go back.

    November 2, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. brian

    "Left-leaning news website Mother Jones on Thursday. "

    Left leaning? Mother Jones is a commercial publication full of capitalist advertizing.

    November 2, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. Joan Wheeler

    Sorry, Ted. That's no joke. It's cowardly and unethical to insult someone and then say, "Sorry, I was just kidding." You are as offensive as your father. Pastor, or not. That's just an excuse to say something unacceptable and get away with it. You and your father should both go back to Cuba.

    November 2, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Ade badewa

    Like father like son

    November 2, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. Joan

    Hatred is not a JOKE!! Lies are not a jOKE!

    November 2, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Jon

    Proves that stupidity is, in large part, genetic. We know darn well that the dimwit Tea Baggers are a bunch of bigots so this is just the kind of nonsense they love. Repubelicans can't seem to grasp that the DUMB things they say are usually recorded these days (proves yet again that the most basic science is beyond their grasp).

    He sent his father out to campaign for him for the Senate but then objects when someone questions the statements he made.

    November 2, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. dzerres

    How is saying Obama should go back to Kenya "out of context"? Why are member of the party of personal responsibility never taking responsibility for their nasty words? Besides, the GOP should skip trying to be "funny" – its not working. You are only funny when you say hilarious things while being serious. Things like, "I can see Russia from my porch" or "Africa is a country" or "Lincoln was a founding father". Those are hilarious, they rest of your attempts no so much.

    November 2, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Bob K

    Joke? Little Rafi, your Daddy was not making a joke. You are just making excuses for your racist Daddy. And we all know what that says about you.

    November 2, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Azzy

    Ah. So in the right wing universe, smearing others with lies is a joke, but calling someone out for lying is 'politics of personal destruction.' Well sure, that makes sense.

    November 2, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. SkepticalOne

    His dad is quite the jokester. His son is the biggest one he has played on us so far.

    November 2, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Randy, San Francisco

    "Foot in the mouth" disease must be handed down from one generation to the next in the Cruz family. This disease runs rampant in the Republican Tea Party.

    November 2, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. NamDanielae

    Wich is name of what in the past was the united state of america? The american state of mexici, los estados americanos de la republica de mejico, just to say that US is losing itself so that country that was a great coubtry once, pne latino president you will lose everything, everything as americans

    November 2, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Patrish

    A joke, my *ss. What's that saying about fruit falling close to the tree???? Still it made my day, I can see he's following in Palin shoes. With the poor me scenario, I'm being attacked by the media, etc.

    November 2, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Mike

    "Man of deep integrity". Oh, please. Spreads vicious rumors, fought with Fidel Castro and divorced his wife are among the few things that makes him a credible person of high integrity. Right up their with Rush Ball. And all this supported by some idiot born in Canada.

    November 2, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Mike Jones

    Wow, so now we are responsible for what other people say.

    Oh wait, that only applies to conservatives.

    November 2, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Tony Karais

    A man of deep integrity? Ha! Yes a man of God should go around preaching again health care access for people who can't either get or afford it. Interesting God you have their Mr. Cruz. Maybe you should go back to Cuba Mr. Cruz where they have health care access for all. And a much better health care system than in the US.

    November 2, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Why is everyone harassing Ted Cruz. What has he done wrong except to have the ambition of becoming famous and the next President of America? He says that his father is a man of integrity because he is a pastor. I am certain that his father is as innocent as those pedophiles in the church who claim that they are men of God. It is immaterial that he has the brains of a teddy bear. So what? Does the American President have to have any brains? The country can run on its own even if the government shuts down and the entire nation goes into another recession. Let's make him the President. At least than we can say to the world that our President did not make a mistake as he has no brains to create or destroy. Poor guy is ambitious. So what? We will even make his father the Vice-President so that both have each

    November 2, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Ss

    I'm sorry, but what was the full context? I saw the segment of video posted, and it also goes on the say Indonesia as well. Why are news groups, on both sides, so eager to create news rather than report it. And provide a more adequate level of detail into the stories? Or is it we as Americans have developed such a short attention span that anything longer than 4 seconds loses us? Based on the limited reporting, I'm inclined to believe this is a manufactured scandal.

    November 2, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Jerry B

    Its funny how its "A Joke" when the public eye is placed on these american version Taliban caught in their hatred speeches.
    America wake up before these people dismantle and destroy our government with the help of their illiterate followers. BTW, hypocrisy when it comes to their statements when in fact both Cruz's were NOT born in the US but of course its OK since they are white Republicans!!!

    November 2, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. KThomas

    Quite certain (and in context) he wasn't making a joke. "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." said the most un-self-aware human being on planet earth.

    November 2, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Wes Scott

    The acorn does not fall from the tree. Nuts beget nuts. Apparently, Ted Cruz learned his racist, hate-filled message from his Christian pastor father. What really galls me is that a Cuban with a Canadian-born son is telling a US citizen to "Go back to Kenya." If anybody needs to "go back" to from where they came, then it is the racists Daddy and Teddy Cruz. They are the epitome of what is wrong in Christianity today.

    November 2, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. Manuel Rivera

    Hey Rafael, go back to Mexico! And take your son with you! It's easy nowadays. There are plenty of tunnels! Oh, wait. Just kidding. It was a joke.

    November 2, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. PREMAL D.SHAH

    Why is everyone harassing Ted Cruz. What has he done wrong except to have the ambition of becoming famous and the next President of America? He says that his father is a man of integrity because he is a pastor. I am certain that his father is as innocent as those pedophiles in the church. It is immaterial that he has the brains of a teddy bear. So what? Does the American President have to have any brains? The country can run on its own even if the government shuts down and the entire nation goes into another recession. Let's make him the President. At least than we can say to the world that our President did not make a mistake as he has no brains to create or destroy. Poor guy is ambitious. So what? We will even make his father the vice-president so that they both have each other's company

    November 2, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. mikeinmiami

    The quote was taken "out of context?" Give me a break.

    November 2, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43