November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
5 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. Billy

    LOL, at all the leftist comments, from people who don't like conservatives, no matter what they say or do. So you loved us until Pastor Cruz cracked a joke? Yeah, right. All leftists are deceived, or if they know better, liars. We've lived under ultra left gov't since FDR was in power, with very few "vacations" from it, (Reagan, GWBush, and even in those instances, liberal gov't and their version of morality kept increasing, poisoning the well). Except for the spoils of WWII victory, the country as gone down, down, down from the 1930s until now. Clowns say morality has nothing to do with prosperity, but the more immoral we are, the worse the country gets. I've got a better idea than Pastor Cruz; why don't all you godless leftists go somewhere? LOL, if you don't change your ways, you're going there anyway...

    November 3, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  2. Monty Python

    508 posts so far on this subject. I didn't bother to read them all. Read about 100.
    Was there even 1 Cruz supporter who made post? This guy is such a loser.

    November 3, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  3. Tiffany52

    Where oh where are the birthers in all this? Let me get this straight...his father is from Cuba and Cruz was born in Canada? Yet not a word of outrage that this spotlight seeking joke actually plans to run for President. Women should be subservient to their husbands? Sounds like Shiri law to me. Listen folks, if you want this country to evolve into a one religion (Christianity), women as second class citizens, and education to become something only within reach by the wealthy, then by all means vote this dweeb into office. Perhaps I shouldn't really worry as the Republicans have to nominate him and most of them don't like him either. As for his father, people worry about what their children are being taught in school, perhaps they should worry about what they are being taught in church. Jesus must be rolling his eyes!

    November 3, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  4. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The three GOP teaparty pigs,father a fake pastor a son a fake congressman and his mother a hoar from some unknown country, somailia , should go back there and take your 24 billion dallar loser son with you , GOP pig!!!!

    November 3, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  5. You Like Apples?

    The Apple does not fall far from the tree. How do you like them apples ?? TED CRUZ put alot of innocent people out of work for no Reason other than his own personal gain. I was born and raised in Texas and Ted Cruz needs to go back to where ever he came from.

    November 3, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  6. Di

    There's no doubt Obama was born but from which planet? Lol

    November 3, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  7. chris

    as a life long republican, i can only say that the ascent of the tea party continues to have the most destructive impact on the GOP since watergate. ted cruz and his allies are the mirror image of obama on the other end of the political spectrum, equal inincompetence, bigotry and words without action. this is a political culture in which crude ideologues without real concepts or the willingness to execute thrive. i can only hope that 2016 will be a race between christie or bush against hillary. say what you want about these individuals' political views...one thing is for sure: these are all people who understand the meaning of hard work, the impoance of flawless execution and america's enduring importance in the world. cruz, obamaa nd co should go back to harvard debate club or wherever they cam from (which in cruz' case is not america btw).

    November 3, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  8. Anonymous

    the only way to shut "pastor cruz's mouth is take away his 501 c 3 status and make his church pay taxes like the rest of us. let's tax the HELL out of churches.

    November 3, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  9. Chris Ossman

    Although Cruz may have been subjected to the paranoid and delusional beliefs of his dad, I would not fault the son for the sins of the father. Instead, I fault Senator Cruz for his own discretions. His wiilingness to cause so much harm for a fruitless cause (repealing/defunding Obamacare) indicates two things, at least to me: First, he doesn't think or care about consequences (24 billion that he's yet to apologize costing our country). Secondly, he has no alternate to the plan to insure the 30 million people that Obamacare seeks to insure: I imagine that, if he did have an alternative, he would have presented it to justify his Cruzade. America has seen enough turmoil from external influences (terrorism) and suffered too often from internal conflict (shutting the govt. down, threats with the debt ceiling, etc.) to endure the selfishness if politicians who put career before country. We must put an end to bad leadership before we become a part of the self fulfilled prophecy of a broken America. Sign and share: bit.ly/FireTedCruz

    November 3, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  10. DCdemos

    More racist comments from the right...surprise, surprise. A joke...? It's not a joke, and they know it. It's said in a snarky, malicious way. Making a joke about sending a black man back to Africa...? Keep it up GOP. This is why you're having trouble winning elections.

    November 3, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  11. T

    ...........2 TOOLS from the GOP overflowing box of TOOLS...........

    November 3, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  12. dave

    The apple does not fall far from the tree. Something tells me Ted Cruz will be wishing his father would keep his "pastoring" to himself before long.

    November 3, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  13. Ruby Russell

    Wow!!! Go back to Kenya!!! President Obama was born in Hawaii....why is it that some ignorant people are ALWAYS telling Black people to go back to somewhere they NEVER were???

    November 3, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  14. Ghung

    Cruz: "... those who are trying to play the politics of personal destruction are trying to smear him...".

    Pot calls kettles black.

    Cruz: "He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity. And he made a joke."

    Ephesians 4:29 – "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

    Ephesians 5:4 – "Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving."

    Proverbs 26:18-19 – "Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

    Perhaps these hypocrits should spend more time readung their bibles and leave the rest of us alone.

    November 3, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. fibsernum

    We owe the senior Mr. Cruz a debt for giving us a clear look into the hearts, minds and character of Tea Party members.
    It is important to understand the thinking and ethics which guide his son.

    November 3, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  16. Larry

    The only thing more lame than Cnn thinking this is news are the people responding to this thinking it is news.

    November 3, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  17. Snowman

    Ted Cruz defends his dad for telling a "joke"? Fuzzy zoeller told a "joke". Sergio Garcia as well. And they were rightfully skewered for it. As should pastor Cruz. Whether or not it transfers to the senator depends on how far one believes the apple falls from the tree. But the fact that the sen is defending and not condemning gives us a clue......

    November 3, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  18. Travis

    Who cares? His father has the right to say whatever he wants. The same people who are so "outraged" over this are just as guilty of doing worse. This has nothing to do with fixing all the problems in DC.

    November 3, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  19. gg

    Why does Ted Cruz refuse to prove that he doesn't accept money from Al Qaeda?

    November 3, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  20. Carol

    The Tea Party generally doesn't make nondiscriminatory jokes. They are always meant to harm and hurt. As for Senator Cruz's father, his remarks were not said in jest. Anyone can see them online and see they were not meant to be funny. Yes, Ted Cruz is just like his father and his father is very much his advisor. Can Cruz be president? Don't know. According to the law, both parents have to be born in the US for you to be a natural born citizen or one must be in the employ of the US government. Neither of these are true for Senator Cruz. And his father, like man Cuban's, do not consider themselves Latinos. They think of themselves as "white Spanish".

    November 3, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  21. Gurgyl

    @mikeb, god bless you. You are right on. GOP is bunch idiots with absolutely no policies. I am glad we elected the most wisest president in USA history. I am confident of this president. ACA Law should have passed 60 years ag. Better late than never. God bless Obama, the USA.

    November 3, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  22. newz4i

    Please, Rafael, keep telling your jokes.

    November 3, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. Evelyn Connaway

    Holy Moses – I read the article and the comments. I agree with all the comments. We have had enough of crazy republican politicians and some of their relatives and friends, making terrible remarks about our President. These people claim to be Christians! They don't give a tinker's damn about the majority of the citizens and our country. As for the two-bit Preacher's. keep your preaching and remarks in your church, if you have one – stay off our airwaves. They like the republican politicians are only interested in money and the people that have money. The are blood suckers, all of them. Our country will be better off when we no longer have the new breed of republicans. I wonder how long they think they can fool the majority of the people in our country. We really aren't as dumb as they think we are. Citizens of the US – please use your commonsense and quit listening to all their lies and propaganda – ignore their loud mouth lies, they aren't offering our nation anything, just trying to tear down what we already have, that they didn't help create, which is what they have always done. The last republican that did anything good for the US, was Eisenhower with our roads – that is his legacy. I didn't like Eisenhower for other reasons of my own. I didn't like LBJ and never voted for him, but he did sign off on two great things – The Civil Rights Act and Medicare – that is his legacy. If the republican party is not going to work for WE THE PEOPLE AND OUR COUNTRY – we no longer need them. Vote them all out in 2014 and 2016.

    November 3, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  24. Paul

    All politicians lie. If you think obama doesn't lie then you are either too stupid to see past your parties bias, or you are lying to yourself.

    November 3, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  25. SpgfldTom

    Excuse me, this was a joke...so why all the hatred and slander? Obama did release his birth certificate (after how many years and spending how many millions to keep it from being made public?). I think there are people still looking for his college transcripts (since no one in his graduating class remembers him). I guess if you keep secrets people will assume you have something to hide, correct? For clarification: Pastor Cruz is like a Reverend Al Sharpton.

    November 3, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
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