November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
12 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. A Texan

    Go back to Canada with your father

    November 3, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. Michele

    Oh sure, let's cut the commie freedom fighter who has his $$$ hidden behind the whole "church" thingy a break. And his non-American born son as well. Let's treat them as the right has treated (and is still treating) the Obama family. Let's cut him has many breaks as the right has cut the Pres. Fair is fair, turn about is fair, good for the goose good for the gander, all's fair in love and war, etc........... Let's start hearing the excuses on this one.

    November 3, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  3. Susan P

    It seems that these 'jokes' are now statements of the GOP. A joke can be said once or even twice, but countless times? It's now statements from the teabaggers/GOP, not a joke.

    November 3, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  4. Don in albuquerque

    Trash begets trash.

    November 3, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. Ismael

    We can characterize what Cruz the father said as a minor joke. The bigger joke is Cruz the son. Both are intellectually, morally, politically corrupt on top of being religious hypocrites of the highest order. It would the serve the country well if they are both returned to whichever cave they originated from.

    November 3, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  6. NYVeteran

    Hate + religion = Ayatollahs and Taliban

    November 3, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  7. Marie MD

    Where is Eleanor Wilson, this lunatic's mother?
    It seems that she saw the light and divorced her crazy pastor (unfortunately too late because she was able to breed the new messiah-his papi's words not mine) no integrity, husband but she seem to be, as I would if this Canadian terrorist was my son, hiding.

    November 3, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Considering neither Ted Cruz nor his father were born in America, I am not sure where either are trying to go with this playpen talk they love to generate. Add to the fact that the father is a self professed "pastor" and the picture is complete. Two very public anti-American, anti-government big mouths looking to cash in. The elder through religious hand-outs and the younger through governmental lobbying hand-outs.

    November 3, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. jose

    Who cares? The whole american media focuses too much on whether someone is mean or not. It's irrelevant in real life

    November 3, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Indy

    While telling the Obama to go back to Kenya is extreme – there are many Americans that are growing weary of the number of untruths and half truths coming from Obama. On Obamacare itself Obama told us that it was "not a Tax" but the the supreme court said "this is a Tax". Then Obama told us that we could keep our insurance if we liked it and that has proved to be false. Then Obama said that it would save Americans $2500 per year in health insurance costs – also false...Is there no limit to the number of lies an American President can tell Americans?

    November 3, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Donald

    I'm guessing the remarks made by the pastor and mentor of B. Obama (Rev J. Wright) were in no means nearly as heinous as Sen Cruz's father's words. I mean calling for the damnation of America is nothing compared to implying a sitting pres was not born in the US.

    November 3, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. jamesnyc

    Cruz is as American as Obama maybe less since Obama was born in U.S. Territory and Cruz in Canada. Both fathers were foreign born. Talking about the Tea Pot calling the kettle black. Well there's that too...

    November 3, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  13. Tony in STL

    Real republicans, if there are any left, ...need to find a way to distance themselves from anything "tea" related. Definitely an anchor to a once great party!

    November 3, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  14. Data Driven

    Send the Cruz family back to Cuba, Canada, wherever they're from.

    Oops, I made a "joke".

    November 3, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. NKBL

    "These selective quotes, taken out of context, mischaracterize the substance of Pastor Cruz's message." You mean like the quotes from Obama taken out of context? The Tea Party can't take what they like to spew out.

    November 3, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. fastball

    "Ill-advised jokes" like that have ruined political careers in the past.

    November 3, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  17. Doc

    And all this time, we were worried about the Taliban radicalizing someone and sending a domestic terrorist to hurt our nation. We should be very watchful for sleeper agents like Ted Cruz and his daddy sent here from Canada to destroy us from within.

    November 3, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  18. Anonymous

    We don't want them back in Canada, keep Celine Dion and Bieber too.

    November 3, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. Jacob Murphy

    Should we also send Cruz back to Canada (where he was born, to US expat parents)? Should we also send his father back to Cuba, where he previously supported the Castro revolution against the Batista regime – only declaring, after arriving in the US, that he "didn't know he was a Communist?"

    November 3, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  20. RamboJonJ

    I always find it funny when these idiots get busted saying something stupid the go to line is always "It was a joke!"

    November 3, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  21. Dude

    Don't blame this on Canada, he was a good kid (4 years old) when he left here. You guys turned him, just like you did Bieber. You can keep them both thanks.

    November 3, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  22. DooDooNoggin

    Idiot. It's hard for me to truly hate anybody I've never met, but I genuinely hate Ted Cruz.

    November 3, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  23. arkmark

    well even Jimmy had Biilly.. we all have that one relative we hope would stay out of the light

    November 3, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  24. littletingod

    Sure didn't sound like a "joke" to me. And @jamesnyc, Hawaii was a state when Obama was born, NOT a US territory. Anybody remember the furor the right wing raised over Reverend White and how Obama had to denounce him? Maybe White was making a "joke" as well.

    November 3, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  25. Butter face

    Obama, Cruz and the other 21 million illegals should all be shoved onto a boat back to where they came.

    November 3, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
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