(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.
Cruz and his father are fascists.
What a joke Cruz is. He is one that believes in no government unless it puts money in his pocket. I really hope these tea party people get forced out of the Republican Party. How can anyone vote for people who twist and contort what they say. We know who you are already so when your trap opens own up to your statements and be a man
Family values? Neither father nor son has a clue.
Both junior and senior Cruz were born outside the USA. Maybe they should go home!!!!
Cruz may love his father. His father may be a paster. His remarks were no joke; they were a dysfunctional passive aggressive assault, something unexpected from a "pastor" – a "christian" at that. So integrity? Not seeing it. And, no, it was not a joke.
Cruz is a gift to the Democratic Party!!!! The biggest obvious media pandering fool I've seen in a long time! He should team up with Kanye West buy a tent and take his show on the road!
typical right wing christian theocrat racists!
Cruz must think we are all stupid. It was not a joke and it was made as a derogatory statement against the President. Pathetic coming from a person who obviously has forgotten that he was born and raised in Cuba, not the USA! I would suggest that So called Pastor Cruz return back to Cuba. He makes these types of statements and perches hatred all at he same tome claiming to be a man of God. Real Americans are finally seeing what the Tea a Party really stands for!
"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."
Ummm...isn't that what the point of the joke was? His father launched the "Go back to Kenya" insult at Obama because he was playing the politics of personal destruction. This is how the GOP and TeaParty play their game. They reflect their own image back at the world and then blame us because it is so ugly.
So that is what his father the pastor thinks of the words he preachs, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
He should read First Corinthians chapter 11 before he lets his tongue get ahead of what he says he believes or at least tells others to believe on Sunday.
Sorry our border is closed to crazies. Please find a deserted island for this wacko.
His father calls himself a pastor?? Sad. The blatant ignorance and fear of some people, all because the President of the United States is a Black man. Wow! Just because he is Black . . . Wow!!
It is sad then, that Ted Cruz is a blatant liar.
It's obvious that some people love of self is greater than the love of our country & the democratic process, He's very lucky I wasn't present to hear him in person, He would have been at the end of one of my crude jokes!
Is the Pastor role to get tax exemption? Curch of the KKK I presume. Sound sounds like a typical T(reason) Party Mindset.
Lets send. Cruz. In the new mariel. Cubans wants US to fight for freedom. Because they are. Like cruz. Big mouth. Learn From MX. They fight for. Independent and not take advanage to invade.
What the heck? Go back to Kenya? Your from fricking Cuba but in your confused world you probably think that you are from the US. Mr. Rafeal Cruz. Please g bad to Cuba dn Ted go back to Canada.
these people that keep electing this kind of an idiot should be sent somewhere
"I love my father," said Cruz. "He is a pastor. "---–
Don't you just love religion? It lets Cubans who skated into America, denigrate other "Americans", based on their country of origin.
Go away, Cruz, and take your nasty father with you.
""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."---
Oh, and also "pastor" Cruz – you are not from America, so what's up with your telling us "we are on the wrong track"? What would you know about the right track??
Senores Cruz, Papa e Hijo:
Papa, go back to Cuba. Fidel and Raul will be waiting for you with open arms. Hijo, go back to Canada. You cannot be President of the US, as you were not borne here! Adios.
Send in the clowns...don't bother...there're here. Shameful and ignorant!!! Cruz and his family should crawl back under the rock where they were born. They are DESTROYING THE USA!
Rafael Cruz needs to go back to Cuba.
Such hate. Is this the best you have to offer the internet?
My comment was directed at all of the people posting comments.