(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.
You never see Cruz & Palin side by side, could it be that they are the same person?
I find it amazing that Ted Cruz believes he can spew any lie he wants, and we are just waiting to lap it up. If you look even casually at this video, there is NO evidence that this was in any way meant to be a joke. It is typical right wing hate speak, and meant to be exactly that and nothing more.
Calling Rafael Cruz a Christian is an insult to Jesus.
Amazing how republicans spew this crap out continuously and when they get called on it say,"It was just a joke." Cruz, you and your old man are the joke. Go back to Cuba or Canada or wherever the hell you're from.
Amazing the hypocrisy of the people on this site! When progressives made fun of the second Bush, it was fully accepted and even encouraged by media outlets(except Fox). Now that the Dem's are in power, people are ready to criminalize it because you can't say anything bad about their messiah! It was a joke! Oh yeah, only Dem's are allowed to joke about the birther thing(Obama himself has joked several times about it ffs!)
As for Cruz himself, I don't know, but anyone who has career politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle seething with hatred has earned my respect!
Go back to Cuba (or Canada, if they'll have you), Cruz.
The rotten apple didn't fall too far from the tree, it appears.
If somebody said Ted Cruz should go back to Canada, he and his supporters would scream and claim it's not fair. Yet we are 100% certain Cruz was born in Canada & President Obama was not born in Kenya.
What goes around comes around.
Cruz is the joke.
We should send him and his "Father" back to Cuba.
He is right about the "joke" part–they both are. His father is delusional, and the apple doesn't fall from the tree. Get these losers out of our political system, people!
Pathetic. It was clearly not a joke and if you attack the president, whomever it may be, you are open to rebuke by those who are offended.
mikeb – vvery well said; one more to add: who is more ignorant – son or dad Cruz OR the people who come to listen to them?
I love how all the Republicans keep claiming it was a joke and the audience was laughing. They were cheering and Cruz Sr wasn't joking he meant every racist word. Ann Coulter is running around saying it was a joke and that Hillary Clinton started the whole birther thing and Republicans never claimed it was true. The Republicans were practically chanting it for the last six years and even demanded his birth certificate. The whole party needs to grow a pair and accept responsibility for their own actions!
I'll pay for Ted and his daddy's boat trip back to Cuba, only they have to swim the last mile while we throw out chum.
Well its not like any Republican held off using Obama's father as a Political Weapon.
The majority of thinking Americans say the same about Obama! .....And THEY'RE not joking!
This is just another WHINE from the liberals who made horrible , personal jokes about Mitt Romney – Apparently THEY can dish it out in spades, but can't handle it when it happens to them! What a sorry bunch of low-intelligence creatures they are!
When are the liberals going to admit they backed an inept, dishonest spineless loser?
did anyone laugh? ... cause they are now... at father and son...
Liberals sure are racist against Ted Cruz. Now they are racist against Ted Cruz's Father.
I'm sorry Cruz, both you and your father come out as downright bigots.
And on top of it, your father still hasn't lost his Cuban accent, and your roots are in Canada. The President, on the other hand is more American than you two guys will ever be.
Send you dad to Cuba, and you can head north to Canada.
Shame on you guys!!
When it comes to Cruz the elder and Cruz the younger, the younger nut doesn't fall too far from the older tree....
The tone of his voice and his animations are in no way intended to be a joke. It's time for Ted and his dad to fade away into obscurity. Their divisive approach to politics does nothing to help our great country move forward.
Cruz was born in a foreign country, he is not qualified for running a president. Period. His father's ill-joke is as ill as the father & son's mind.
It is entertaining to see tea party favorites whining about having what they say "taken out of context," considering the years of choice misquoted out-of-context comments they have been using, such as the one about "you didn't build that," the one about "I would stand with the Muslims" (not at all what he said – the word "Muslims" wasn't even in the original sentence, and he was referring to persecuted American Muslims at most and not terrorists), etc.
No one needs to pay any attention to Ted Cruz's father to recognize Ted Cruz as a rightwing extremist who is destructive to this country.
he is no different than Reid, so who cares...