(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.
Obama is an American citizen.
Born in the USA.
I can't imagine anyone telling any of the members of Congress who have ancestors from Italy, Ireland, Poland, etc to go back there!
What the hell does his race and ancestry have to do with anything?
OK... if Obama is to be sent back to Kenya (although he presented evidence convincing enough to establish he was born in Hawaii), where would Ted Cruz have to be sent to? He was born in CANADA! Is Canada a territory or state? And Cruz senior was born in Cuba, and, read somewhere fought side by side with Castro in the Sierra Maestra!!! Go figure...
PT Allen, IF his father is from Kenya, and someone make the statement he needs to go somewhere, that is the birth place of the father he adored from afar, that is certainly reasonable and not racist! That DOES go to the central point of this biased article.
And yet it is all you liberals making the hateful charges and smears here, and YOU need to go back and look at the definition of "natural born citizen" before you start spreading nonsense, while charging that anyone commenting on the President's legal status is racist!
Meanwhile, read all the progressive "tolerance" on here and enjoy yourself!
Bill, I understand there's a loophole. If he is son of an american citizen, as was in The States by age five, he qualifies... where was he at age five?
I knew it! Coulter, Beck, Trump, Hannity, Limbaugh and folks alike are just really bad stand-up comedians!
Chip off the ol' block.
There is no place in America for people like Ted Cruz and his father ,"Pastor " Cruz. If the "good." pastor and his son think free force able removal of black people from their homeland in chains so they can work as slaves for people like the Cruz family in America is funny this a sad day in the land of the free and home of the brave.Teddy Cruz is a chip off the old block.
Jeff, 1876 is long gone. Get with it.
Bryan... Cruz is of CUBAN descent... not Mexican... talking about bigotry and racism? Hummm.... I wonder....
If the only thing the world can hold against Canada is Justin Bieber and Ted Cruz, Canada's still looking pretty good!
A bad joke is no excuse for insulting a person you've never met.
I have researched both Mr. Cruzes. Neither are who they claim to be. Both men insight fear in the public thru their untruths. Unfortunately the unknowledgeable public does listen. If you ever listen to hitlers speeches on the history channel and biography channel he was inciting hate and lies to the people of Germany long before World War Two began. It is referred to as demagoguery. Hitler was a master at it!
This 'pastor' needs to be put out to 'pasture'. What an ignorant man. As someone said (as far as Ted goes), "the nut doesn't fall far from the tree".
Racist jokes are racist. To call what Rev. Cruz said a "joke" misses the point.
If it was a joke, the audience didn't seem to get it. They were cheering, not laughing.
Cruz please go back to Canada and Cruz senior please so back to Cuba.
Cruz is a spanish surname.. just saying.. also it has to do with nothing, thats an unjustifiable "joke" people like this should never be allowed to represent a country, polititians with twisted ideas such as this perpetuate the problems we all have in each of our countries.
Alright, ted cruz should go back to Canada, or Cuba…whichever one is paying him to tear America apart. He's not even an American. Neither is his father.
I remember when Obama was being beat up because of his relationship with Rev. Wright. Senator Cruz is stuck with Rev. Cruz and his stup$d comments. If Obama has to go back to the birth place of his father; then Senator Cruz has to go back to Cuba. Stup$d is as Stup$d does !
Tea partiers and republicans in general, always lie, make bad jokes, make jokes i poor taste, and the list goes on and on. After the INEVITABLE backlash, it's always the same excuse – I 'misspoke' (read: I lied and got caught), 'I was taken out of context' (read: I was taken completely in context, but thge sheeple were not as dumb as I thought). Dems and Indy's are guilty of this also. It must be 'Politicspeak'. Complete ignorance, nonetheless.
Sent them both to CUBA. A Canadian and Cuban pretending to be more American then the naturel born.
The only joke is Texas sending this bozo Ted Cruz to Congress. You can tell he is crooked as the day is long. He caused the government shutdown that cost this country and the economy billions of dollars just so he could make sure the tea partiers reward him with huge campaign contributions. It's very obvious that he's only looking out for himself and doesn't care about this country. Trying to dismiss this as a joke is unbelievable. Call it what it is – an intended racist slur.
A joke? I fail to see any relevance or humor in the "joke". Cruz is a giant hypocrite, a brainwashed child of this fascist Cuban.
A joke? A joke? I fail to see any relevance, humor, or point in the "joke". Teddy Cruz is a giant hypocrite, a brainwashed child of his fascist, religious fanatic daddy. Go back to Cuba, Castro has a proper place to put your idiocy.
I have heard groups of these right wingers talking about their "missions" to Kenya to locate Obama's "parents" .
These are NOT Jokes , these Are the workings of deficient minds and the sub humans that follow them .
Politician Cruz has the tough job of facing up to facts – his father is a Looooooooooser !