November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
11 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. Bellamay

    I am so confused. How can a man of deep faith behave this way towards other people. He is a fake Christian. He needs to sit t down and read scripture. I just don't get it. Jesus was never about treating others this way. Yet, every time they use Gods name in vain for political reasons. I go to church with fake Christians. They sit and judge and have little tolerance fo others. Both of them need to go to a bible study. In the mean time I will pray for them.

    November 2, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  2. Cathy

    NO NO No! We don't want the jerk back in Canada! Send him to where ever his racist, bigoted father comes from please.

    November 2, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. jamison

    When you say words like that which are STRONGLY WORDED, they are NOT taken out of context. They were spoken as the moron intended them to be spoken.

    November 2, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. MJW

    The very sad part about this, he is a pastor! I am curious to know the type of people following this man as members of a church. No wonder non-believers have a hard time believing, when you have hateful people like these claiming to be Christians. The bible teaches us to love The Lord our God with all your heart which is the first commandment and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. How can a pastor foster such hate and animosity. May God help us!

    November 2, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. Robert N. constant

    Ted Cruz's father admits he "bribed his way" out of Cuba in 1957 after fiighting for and then deserting Fidel Castro. Cruz on the campaign trail has claimed his father fled " Castro's Communist Cuba". Ted Cruz claims his father was joking when in 2012 he said at a conservative speaking event that President Obama was a Muslim and should be sent back to Kenya. At that time a number of Republicans, like papa Cruz were saying the same thing, knowing full well it was not true. this was a Tea Party "disinformation" strategy and not a joke.
    Ted Cruz in the morning bragged to conservatives about shutting down the Government and in an interview in the afternoon blamed shutting down the government on the Democrats.
    Ted Cruz seems to have a problem with telling the truth.

    November 2, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. loudmusic

    Ted's just a chip off the ol' block, aint' he? In what misbegotten Bizarro world is this guy a viable presidential candidate?

    November 2, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. E.Schulze

    Father Cruz and his church should not be tax exempt seeing as he is talking politics. What a nerve that Cruz family have. Ted was born in Canada and is by their law a Canadian citizen. I heard him say he would be giving up his Canadian citizenship. As far as I know he hasn't. I wonder if it's because he has to prove to the Canadian authorities that he is a citizen of another country before they will cancel his citizenship? A person cannot be stateless. That is international law which Canada follows. I believe he cannot prove that he is an American citizen that's why he hasn't got around to renouncing his Canadian citizenship.

    November 2, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. Ctrygrl

    Ted Cruz is perfectly capable of making an idiot of himself without any help from his father. His father has a right to say whatever he wants and believe whatever he wants. He is just a pastor, he is not the fool that shutdown the government nad wreaked havoc on the stock market just because he could, that was his son who should perhaps go back to Canada.

    November 2, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. deee510

    This is not the first time Cruz the senior idiot has made that statement. This weirdo should not be allowed to disrespect our president.

    November 2, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. jane boucher

    it was not very funny as a joke and why turn our us president into a laughing mockery. They have no dignity abt them and certainly no religious intent. I find it sad, its like the same thing with jeremiah wRIGHT, HE AS A PASTOR TOO. and THE right went berserk over things he said abt the country. now its as bad with the tpartiers all they do is criticize our government and the people in it, many other americans are being put down. its getting old.

    November 2, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. pat

    it's amazing how often those "out of context statements" have been made over the past 5 years.

    November 2, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. Carl Walter

    Suppose Obama was a white Polish-American born and raised in the U.S.; would the elder Cruz would have said, "Obama should go back to Poland," and that would be his "joke"? He would never have considered making such a comment. The "joke" that our president, an African-American born and raised in the United States, should "go back Kenya" plays directly to the President's race. Senator Cruz was disingenuous in describing his father's comment as an "ill-advised" joke. And it doesn't matter if the elder Cruz is a pastor or the pope himself, a racist remark is still a racist remark. Senator Cruz, I'm sure, loves his father, but his comments were a disingenuous as his father's were racist.

    November 2, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. VEW2012

    Really he is going with the ill advised joke? Honestly, he didn't sound like a comedian, he sounded like a deranged old man who had lost his marbles...and should pack it up and go home....preferable to Cuba.

    November 2, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Tom

    If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, Ted Cruz is a nincompoop!

    November 2, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Jane

    @Vikachi: You probably don't even realize that your badly written, poorly spelled, lie filled pathetic excuse of a comment clearly highlights the caliber of people who listen to and believe the garbage you're spewing, secondhand. If it weren't so tragic, I'd find your words hilarious. Oh, I'd also be willing to bet cash money you rail against the horrible gub'mint while cashing your Social Security checks....

    November 2, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Tari Torch Sweeney

    "he dismissed his father’s comments as a “joke” and ill-advised".... and ""He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity. And he made a joke."

    Listen. No one doubts Cruz loves his father. I don't care what "sense of outrage" people feel – and I am sure some folks are motivated by politics, but I would put money on the fact that most of us are outraged because it's just downright disgusting. And what's more....the father is a PASTOR, and Cuban....has he never had racial comments made at/to him, and found it hurtful? I love when people who throw stones are usually the ones that have the problems. The man'd a PASTOR, for god's sake. Does that mean ANYTHING in all of this? That wasn't a "joke," Ted. It was a mean and spiteful comment from a man who should know better. You can idolize him, but he needs to tell you he was WAY wrong in saying and doing what he did. He doesn't have to like the President, many don't. But.....well, you get the drift, Ted. You should be embarrassed by what he said, not making excuses for him. You've got a loooonnnng way to go, Jr.

    November 2, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Socalmcgraw

    A pastor, huh?....he should know better. Every public figure not matter what level just needs to figure that someone with a smart phone is catching their every word. Say what you want, but don't expect to go unnoticed.

    November 2, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  18. Jesus

    It amazes me the level of hate, that these self righteousness, hypocrites, neophites, narro2 minded, ignorant and opinionated individuals like the Cruz father and son have inside their minds. Not only that.. their behavior tells me that they are immature and that botrh have an obtuse mind. ON top of that.. here we have a preacher who says that is representing God.. I have the feeling that if such being would comne down.. probably She/He would kick him in his flat behind.. and I am sure the Cruz father is makign a lot of money from those that go to his Church.. Well.. now I understand where ths on is coming from.. a home where hypocrecy was the norm.. I think, both of them should go back to Cuba although I am sad for the cuban people that would have to deal with these 2 parasites.

    November 2, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. bosco111

    I dislike the Cruzer, but this isn't as blatant as Romney's 47% remarks. Why become outraged at such comments? They only reveal the shallow thinking of the one who made them. It's hardly worth getting ones undies bunched up over. Still, I'm glad they came to light.

    November 2, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. lewtwo

    "He is a pastor." - I am beginning to understand the problem.

    November 2, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. aj

    The people who appeared to be criticizing his dad were actually just making a joke. Geesh, doesn't Cruz have a sense of humor?

    November 2, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  22. debogail

    It's a joke now that most Birthers have been ridiculed but you used your Cuban father to cry birther during your campaign among crazy Teajadists. The irony is lost on your ignorant supporters who should be asking you some birther questions. And your father needs to be put back into the closet where all crazy relatives are kept. And when again did he become an Ameican?

    November 2, 2013 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  23. mac

    The "Pastor" should go back to Cuba.

    November 2, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. David/Ohio

    Ah yes. Attack the ones who called out his father's smear attack on the President as using smear tactics. Nice try, Rafael Jr. That tactic might work in conservative circles, but thinking people are capable of seeing right through it.

    November 2, 2013 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. M.

    Should we send the Cruz family to Cuba or Canada? I don't think either of the countries wants them...

    November 2, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
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