(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.
Lame excuse for ignorance and hate. Great credentials for a pastor.
Mr. Cruz's father is disingenuous at best. He claims to know and have experienced Fidel Castro but arrived in Texas in 1957, two years before Castro took over as a victim of conservative dictator Batista. No one questions his opinion about the "bearded one" or Mr. Cruz's efforts to become a successful American citrizen, but to claim being a witness to Castro's tirades is preposterous and dishonest.
This is a note from the True the Vote 2013 National Summit Web site:
"Rafael Cruz is the father of US Senator Ted Cruz. Rafael embodies the American Dream. Born in Cuba, he suffered under a cruel, oppressive dictator. He began fighting Batista’s regime as a teenager and was imprisoned and tortured – beaten nearly to death – simply to be free.
Rafael arrived in Texas in 1957 with nothing but the clothes on his back and one hundred dollars sewn into his underwear.
He got a job as a dishwasher, making 50 cents an hour, and worked his way through the…"
Is Mother Jones Obama's personal NSA? They seem to have the GOP under good surveillance...
First the Romney hidden camera and how this?
So, a Cuban-born father of a Canadian-born U.S. Senator thinks HE is qualified to take shots at the duly elected
U.S.-born President? Wow. Talk about the fire hydrant whizzing on the dog!!!
Actually, theres No place in America for any of these Corrupt phony fraudulent politicians of both parties, send em' all back where they came from, or, get the "Box Cars ready again !!!".
Land of the FREE home of the brave. Many men died to make sure he could say it if he wanted. Like it or not he has the right.
Saying it shows the father's character. Spinning for his father is idiotic.
Absolutely no surprise Ted has a dad that is an ultra religious bigot.
Thank goodness Raphael Cruz is a man of "deep integrity". That makes it all right. I'd hate to hear from a man of "shallow integrity".
That's the same father who espouses the belief that America should be ruled by anointed Christian kings right? Or was he joking about that too?
The only ill advised joke Ted Cruz's father ever made was Ted Cruz.
I'd like to see a mention in such articles that Cruz wasn't born in the U.S. (He was born in Canada, to an American mother.) Not that the fact renders him ineligible – but any birthers who support a Cruz presidential run need to explain the difference. (They can't ... but it's be awesome to watch them try. :) )
The Mr.s Cruz remind me that humans are just like animals: big cockroaches have little cockroaches. I'm a registered Independent and I desperately hope that Teddyboy runs for the top spot so he can receive the national spanking that he so richly deserves.
I am a Canadian and there is no place for that kind of talk here.......they should both go back to Cuba where perhaps that talk is accepted........if he is a pastor that is a shame that he is preaching to anyone..selfmade I'll bet........
Blah, Blah, Blah. . . . .
More hot air from the Canadian, Cruz.
Cruz and his father are extremist fools who need to be sent back to the countries they were born in. Both of which are NOT American soil. Another typical republican move that is saturated with hypocrisy. Out with republicans. Get them out of office!
His dad made a Joke alright, a son named Ted Cruz.
Des Perado: "Communist Obamacare…biggest joke in the world…Obama !!!"
If you think the ACA is communist, then you are unclear on the concept of communism. Hint: in a communist society the private sector would have no say over healthcare, much less health insurance coverage. Merely the fact that we are still dealing with private health insurance companies means that the system is far from communist.
What an idiot...he is supposed to be a man of god....please he is as much a man of god as Castro, whom he was allged to have fought alongside. And what can we hear from his Canadian son, it was a joke....I can imagine Jews laughing about Holocaust jokes. The rest of the world laughs at how ill-educated and naive most Amerians are. It puzzles people around the world the richest country in world has no system in place to look after vulnerable people or less fortunate....unless some idiot is making money from it....For the record, Obama is the best post war president you've ever had...if you need somebody to explain to you what that means, that confirms my earlier observations about Americans.....
I am a Pastor
ALL pastors and priests are GREAT MEN of integrity. To think they are not is to BETRAY THE LORD. if the priest wasn't chosen by God, then God would DESTROY the priest by making him disappear from the earth.
You are right! God would destroy all the priests and pastors if they are not men of integrity, but God cannot destroy them because God does not exist and, unfortunately, priests and pastors are made from bigots. As long as bigot exists there is existence of priest or pastor.
Sent them back to canada or Cuba!
More bad judgement and pettiness from the ignorant party of NO; No plans No solutions, No CLUES.
Democrats love it. It will be hard to attract independent voters with this attitude. If the republicans don't take back their party, the only way they will see the inside of the whitehouse is to win a national championship.
This was no joke. He meant exactly what he said.
Legitimate news sources check out factual material rather than simply state a well worn, but incorrect trope. Most of us are aware of when the "born in Kenya" meme started. Young Obama wishing to make his background sound more exotic told his publicist he was born in Kenya. She in turn placed that information about him in her advertising brochure along with the biographies of other writers she represented. Thus it was Obama himself who started this "rumor"- just another one of his multitude of lies. Michelle Obama is also on videotape saying her husband was born in Kenya. Both these facts can be found on line through a very elementary search. Gee if I can do it, so can the geniuses at CNN, but not unless they wish to get to the bottom of it which they don't.