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. SeattleReign

    The irony here is staggering. Are they both too stupid to figure that out???

    November 2, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  2. George

    This guy came from Canada where there's free healthcare and where his father was able to take paternity leave as a new dad and still get paid, and is telling Americans they don't need government to help with their health care. They want to punish struggling Americans whose parents struggled to build this country that they now enjoy! Why can't they take their idea of "No government assistance to citizens' back to Canada?

    November 2, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  3. The Truth

    Joke? Are you kidding me? This was not a joke, and you folks shouldn't even report it as such. This man was serious.

    November 2, 2013 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  4. Sam

    1 Timothy 2:1-3
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    Pray for All Men

    2 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

    November 2, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  5. Sam

    I guess he has ripped this out of the bible and no longer applies to the "Man of God"
    1 Timothy 2:1-3
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    Pray for All Men

    2 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

    November 2, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  6. Not Too Hard To Understand

    Well, if nothing else, at least we now know where Teddy's stupid gene came from. Seems it caught a ride on Daddy's Y chromosome.

    November 2, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  7. Caleb Boone

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

    This doesn't seem very good.

    That is because it's not.

    My word.

    I am completely grossed-out.

    Have a Dovely.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    November 2, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  8. kebcarerra

    Looked in the closet and found an old white sheet with holes cut for the eyes but this white sheet got a hood and wasn't for halloween , don't have to look to far to figure out the tea party favorites .

    November 2, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  9. kebcarerra

    Mr. Cruise is an Angel

    November 2, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  10. Jason B

    But at no point does Ted Cruz say anything about disagreeing with what dear ol' dad said, just said it "was a joke".

    November 2, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  11. ThisIsNot4U2

    PASTOR CRUZ?!?!?!?!? Well...How "Christian" of him. I know that old "Teddy Boy's" PAs are trying to distance themselves from the remarks. However, that IDIOT raised Ted...And the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Once a BAGGER, always a BAGGER.

    November 2, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  12. Demswinin16

    Ted's grammar is a tad off today. "My father IS A JOKE" is proper English... and a hell of a lot more factual.

    November 2, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  13. Demswinin16

    Ted's grammar is a tad off today. "My father IS A JOKE" is proper English... and a heck of a lot more factual.

    November 2, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  14. Demswinin16

    Ted's grammar is a tad off today. "My father IS A JOKE" is proper English... and a lot more factual.

    November 2, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  15. Demswinin16

    Ted's grammar is a tad off today. "My father IS A JOKE" is proper English... and a lot more factual.

    November 2, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  16. Lenny Pincus

    Crazy father indoctrinates son. Creates another generation of crazy. Thanks.

    November 2, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  17. carlos

    what an old phart and the son is no different"""'illegal immigrants.... by the way, where is the American mother???

    November 2, 2013 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  18. Lenny Pincus

    btw, Pastor Cruz–a family values guy–is divorced. Another Baptist hypocrite.

    November 2, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  19. DaveW

    Cruz and his father were born in other countries. Obama is a native American. The Cruz family needs to make less noise.

    November 2, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. Helena Troy

    It wasn't a joke-it was a comment meant to exploit the ignorance and bigotry of his audience...

    November 2, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  21. chuck

    This is his Father – the apple doesn't fall far from the tree....blatant racism here....it won't mater tho – he can't legally run forPresident anyway...

    November 2, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  22. carlos

    human excrement is how these two should be compared to.......

    November 2, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  23. jrsgta

    Die cruz die...go back to cuba

    November 2, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  24. Thomas

    Do Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz have the same Father ?

    November 2, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  25. dsangiovanni

    Senator , your father just buried your political future...You were in bad shape already, but this joke will cost you more...

    November 2, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
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