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. Des Perado

    In a follow-up to this story…Cruz said sure my dad made a joke then media created this drama
    But after 17 TRILLION in debt & Communist Obamacare…biggest joke in the world…Obama !!!

    November 2, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Sigi

    A pastor, eh? There's Christian love and acceptance for ya – LOL

    November 2, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. NSL

    What a liar. That was no joke. They should both go back to Cuba if anyone is going back.

    November 2, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. kch

    Wow, a cuban is asking an American to go to another country. Bravo!

    November 2, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Mara Tam

    dumb and dumber - where the genes come from

    and don't send him back to Canada - they don't want him!

    November 2, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. VJ

    It is unacceptable to any standards.

    November 2, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. somethingstellar

    Cruz isn't even FROM Texas. His father is from Cuba, and Cruz himself was from Calgary Alberta. So they should be the ones to leave lol.

    Come back here to Canada Cruz where you belong, so we can strap boulders to your feet and drop you in Lake Ontario.

    November 2, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. somethingstellar

    lol Cruz isn't even from Texas. His father is from Cuba and he himself is from Calgary, Alberta. Both of them should go back where they came from.

    November 2, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. Ray

    Why anyone would listen to or care about what a Right Wing Religious Nut with a closed mind says is beyond me. Yet another reason Ted Cruz will be a one-term politico. Like Father, Like Son.

    November 2, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. John Cupper

    Should the Cruz family go back to Mexico? Spain? South America?

    November 2, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. Valerie Hopkins

    Both father and son Cruz are Baptista-types, not democracy-leaning, but wanting the spoils of a dictatorship, which far-right politicians often become. With them, seems like it was just a small step. Let THEM go back to Cuba, Canada, or somewhere other than the U.S. We don't need their type.

    November 2, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. DaMenace1

    It was no joke.
    His father was serious when he made that statement.
    I'm sure that is exactly how he and his sorry excuse for a son really feel.

    November 2, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. polijukie

    A pastor who preaches bigotry and hate...and you wonder why the atheist movement is on the rise.

    November 2, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. John

    ""I love my father," said Cruz. "He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity. And he made a joke."
    You probably do love your father, but he is anything BUT a man of deep integrity. He's a religious hypocrite and a bigot.

    November 2, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. Craig

    What is it with Republicans and the insane?

    November 2, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. David

    Kenya is so upset over Obama failing America, that they are now accusing Obama of being born in America now.

    November 2, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. harry

    there's your integrity for ya, "selective quotes", "taken out of context", "mischaracterize the substance" – the man said it then doesn't have the onions to stand up when he's called out – that's all you need to know.

    November 2, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. Ariel

    Cruz family is a bunch of what we call "old whites". White people who are old enough to remember ( 45 + ) when blacks were treated like less than nothing. Whites that age or older simply cant be trusted, they come from a different world, different mindset.

    November 2, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. mburau75

    He's a pastor? Well that explains everything.

    November 2, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. Peter

    I'm not a fan of Ted Cruz and disagree with him most of the time, but on this point I do agree with him. Ugly smear has no place in politics or anywhere else.

    November 2, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. IAMBeowolf

    Tea Party Rules:
    1. Open Mouth
    2. Insert Koch

    November 2, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. mburau75

    He's a pastor? Well that explains everything...

    November 2, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. qm

    Right. So an immigrant comes to this country and makes a "joke" about sending a natural born citizen back to Africa and it's the people who are outraged that are somehow in the wrong for making this political. What a bunch of hypocrites these foreigners are.

    November 2, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. albie

    saw the word "pastor" and the comment no longer surprised me - the church is rife with the"us vs. them" mentality.

    November 2, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. ed

    This pastor needs to stick with Jesus. And leave politics to his son.

    November 2, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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