(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.
Ted Cruz , and his father, need to go back under the rock and deep down in the hole they crawled out from...
Ted Cruz should go back to CANADA where he was BORN. Ha-ha, funny joke, eh?
Show us the birth certificate, Cruz!
Oh, wait, the birthers just realized that even if you were born overseas, if one parent is American, you are a "natural-born citizen!"
So Canadian-born Cruz can run for President. Obama, born in Hawaii, is "illegally" president.
Oh I get it. (I think?!) It's OK for the Messiah's pastor to spew hate; but it's not OK for Senator Cruz's father to joke about the "Teflon Guy". Double standard anyone?! Or, is it simply because Senator Cruz is not a lying/hypocritical Democrat.
Most politicians lie, but no president has ever lied and disrespected the American populace as much as Mr. Obama.
Any doubts?! ObamaCare, just for starters!
Really – this is news?? People are hurt that about this comment? Our government needs to refocus on the waste of our tax dollars and spending and the fact that this administration can't reach across the aisle – EVER. this is OUR government not a high school football team. when polarized, the country loses as a whole. Reagan managed to pull both sides together and grow the economy – when will Obama reach out to America and unify?? We need a leader we all can get behind
It didn't JUST draw criticism from "liberals". I can't stand either party. Can't stand the idea of only 2 parties to represent the differing ideas and opinions across the US.
I am not a "liberal" and there are more than two viewpoints to how the government should be running.
SO here I stand, not a democrat. Not a republican. And I find Cruz's father and Cruz himself to be wholly ignorant and just another fathead career politician.
Nazi's are best executed. Hopefully some gun nut will take care of these Nazi's.
Unbelievable to hear someone say "send all the blacks back to Africa", let alone an illegal Mexican like Cruz.
A smear??? Has he not said it publicly made this statement publicly this statement in middle of the BIRTHER onslaught???
Is he not a senile old man, but a politically active member of the TED CRUZ campaign?? NOT SMEAR, BUT FACT!!!
AND BY THE WAY IS TED CRUZ NOT BORN IN CANADA (?)AND INELIGIBLE TO BE PRESIDENT???
This PASTOR not only represents the real opinion of Ted, but of a large sector of the evangelic "BORN AGAIN evangelic SECT, which aside to being RACIST considers that help to the poor is a danger for themselves, as eventually this would diminish a tiny bit their own privileged condition.
Is this sect CHRISTIAN?? LOL!!!
Ted & his father are here in the USA as illegals, the Cruz's need to be deported back to CUBA ASAP.
The family values will fit right in with the rest of his commie friends.
So he's a pastor? Bearing false witness is O.K. in his church I guess. WIth a nutjob like that for a dad, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
The older Cruz was born in Cuba; at best he's a naturalized US citizen..... for him to suggest that Obama should go back to Kenya is totally hypocritical on his part..... that's the right wing extremist for you; projecting all of one's shortcomings, faults and deficiencies onto other people and calling them enemies. What a con man! No wonder his son is also totally FUBAR!
Obviously the bad apple didn't fall far from the tree, did it? Both are hate mongers and morons. THey should go back to Canada and see the warm welcome they'd get there.
Praise God. Another F-upped christian. Thats all we need!
Evangelicals behaving badly. Rafael and junior, Senator are the reflection of the TEA Party that is simply the political face of racists, bigots and yes religious intolerants.
I love the baggers on here. When Obama shows his birth certificate that he was born in Hawaii and two Hawaii papers back then announced the birth, well, that's just gotta be a lie. But Cruz who himself says he was born in Canada and is Canadian-Cuban, well the birthers just don't even want to hear that and say its not true. It makes your head spin, doesn't it? true hypocrisy in every sense of the word.
Oh I get it. (I think?!) It's OK for the Messiah's pastor to spew hate; but it's not OK for Senator Cruz's father to joke about the "Teflon Guy". Double standard anyone?! Or, is it simply because Senator Cruz is not a lying/hypocritical Democrat.'
Yet another right winger calling Obama the messiah. You guys just love deifying the guy, hes only human you know.
And didnt you lot moan about Wright and his comments? but its not ok to moan about someone's FATHER making specific comments about the president? talking of double standard and hypocrisy.
Wow, and he's a PASTOR. That says it all about these hypocrites. A bully Pastor saying "Go back to Kenya." And this guy gets tax break, I'd love it if someone dug into his economic status.
Another Christian pastor and his kids spewing hate, thanks for making the rest of us look bad. Go back to Canada.
So according to Ted, even if its racist, as long as someone in his camp finds it funny its ok. I would give him the defense of it being his fathers quote- and not his, but he should own up that it wasnt funny, wasnt correct and was based on prejudice and has to be condemmed.
Ted, that was no joke, your father meant to say Kenya. There is no getting around it. I find a lot of disrespect within the Cruz family. Maybe you should go back to Cuba.
He and his father along with the Tea Party fanatics need to be all deposited on the next passing asteroid.
There is NO reason for outrage, or claims of racism, here, IF you remember that Obama Sr. was born in Kenya! It's that simple!
Also, though Barrack only saw Obama Sr. for less than a week in his lifetime, he had a book written about HIM, so it's certainly reasonable to suggest that he has pride in his father's roots, which are in Kenya, where his father died as a result of his repeated drunk driving!
It seems that liberals get to feign outrage, and the liberal media picks it up, when the facts don't warrant it and shouldn't allow it! Reality is what it is!
Ted Cruz's dad fought for Fidel Castro. Ted Cruz is slime that only wants to be on Fox News as a host like that bigot Huckabee.
First of all, this is not ill-advised joke. It comes from a man full of hatred, not a pastor as you would think. He simply ignores that simple fact of who he is, where he came from.
Ted, do all of us a big favor, do as your dad said, by a couple of one way tickets to Cuba, Canada or where-ever and leave us here to live peacefully.
"...motivated as much by politics..."
Yeah, and Ted Cruz's motives are NEVER motivated by politics.
This is truly ironic but it shows the beauty of our freedom of speech: A white Cuban exiled in the US (for all we know he could have come in the Mariel himself) whose group was widely known to be racist and oppressive against afro-Cubans before 1959 made such a remark of the president who has proven to be born in the US. And then, his son born in Canada made similar comments (for which he later apologize). . .. How many times these people have to show their true colors to be called what they really are: racists!