November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
10 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. judith

    Crazy old religious fanatic Cruz is also insane enough to think his vicious son has been chosen by God to lead us. Pray all you want Rafael, that is not going to occur. A loving God would spare us from such a horrible occurrence.

    November 3, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. Dave Seavy

    Their supposed outrage is staged and is nothing more than a conduit to throw stones. Nobody in that group is so squeaky clean that they should be putting anyone else down for anything. What a bunch of phonies.

    November 3, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Name

    Like father like don

    November 3, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. historyspeaks10

    did anyone expect anything less from the cruz family? i admit i hate all people equally and dont pretend otherwise.

    November 3, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. mvrunner

    A racist comment is a racist comment, no matter how hard you try to spin it afterwards.

    November 3, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. richdoll

    funny the RWers call the president everything & it passed off as a joke well I don't see anything funny about when he was born right here in the united states in the state of hawii . people are sick in tired for anyone to make a political statement can go around attacking his birth right . cruz on the other hand was born in Canada hs father work & fought for Castro what right does he have to question any thing because he's a white Cuban he get a pass not acceptable lets call it out for what it is cruz & father play on peoples prejudices to get ahead instead of attacking the president let flip this mirror cruz was responsible for shutting down the government which cost us $24 billion is he going to pay us back ??? 160.k job lost as a result of his foolishness 800.k were furloughed let focus on the reality & hold his feet to the fire instead of looking at the shiny new penny who is a grafter & scam artist

    November 3, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. yogi

    @ Allen Demary

    One more comment, as an analogy to Cruz's remarks:
    You are at the Thanksgiving table and you tell the hostess that she better returns to her mother because the turkey she cooked is awful, meanwhile you are staying and eating the turkey.
    Escaping the communist regime of Cuba and finding freedom here is truly a blessing, but then telling the President who was born a US citizen to "return" to Kenya can be described with one word: Appalling.
    The actions of Cruz jr can be described with the same word.

    November 3, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. JL

    from the "dig out to cover up a democratic blunder" file. Do you really think anyone cares if Ted Cruz's father said something "insensitive", when our president was just exposed for lying to the entire country for 5 years?

    November 3, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    at least we wont have to worry about cruz being president since he wasn't born here

    November 3, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. darknesscrown

    Why does a supposed CHRISTIAN pastor have a fundamental problem with socialism, exactly? Jesus Christ was a Marxist before anyone knew who Marx was. By the way, there's actually no such thing as a "Christian business" either. Your boy, Christ, wouldn't have been in the business game. Read your own book.

    November 3, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. Mr Braswell

    Please run Cruz and assure a democrat victory.

    November 3, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. Art

    "He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity."

    No Ted. You are wrong. A man with deep integrity wouldn't be a racist. And saying you father is a pastor isn't something to brag about in this day and age.

    The last ordained pastor with deep integrity in America was Mr. Rogers. Your father would need Jesus to LITERALLY RETURN with a note vouching for him to be in Mr. Rogers' league.

    November 3, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. Pusser

    Standard GOP response. If you get caught lying or being a scumbag, act like YOU'RE the victim and go on the attack.

    November 3, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  14. albert

    A man of true integrity would not joke about a mans enthinicity. Nice try Cruz. If Obama were to say that your father needs to go back to Cuba, you would not have taken that a s a joke. You are a liar and a hypocrite.

    November 3, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  15. person who learns things

    Someone should send Ted Cruz and Rafael Cruz back to Cuba. Or Canada. Or wherever they are from.

    November 3, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. Kathie

    Sounds to me like "Pastor" Cruz needs to have a little talk with God about the Ninth Commandment:"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor"....

    November 3, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  17. Born in the U.S.A.

    Someone needs to go back to Cuba and Canada and keep their hate there. It sickens me that this guy gets into a pulpit and spews such ignorance and hatred.

    November 3, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. Voyager1

    Cruz, sadly, is a hero to many folks. I think Ted Cruz was voted in by a lot of like minded people who decent folks but they have "old" beliefs that tend to suppose extreme conservative values. There are many folks in our country who think they are doing good even though I feel extremism on either side destroys our country even more.
    Hopefully, Ted Cruz, and others like him will be voted out at the next election. I wouldn't hold my breath though. The people who voted him in are still there to vote.

    November 3, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  19. ouisee

    “Evil triumph when good men do nothing!” The Cruz men of that DNA are showing how evil is in their brain. I am very happy that our good Americans are speaking up. And I am not a Liberal. Good people are more than just good people.

    November 3, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  20. elucidated1

    Thank you Mr.Cruz. We've all saved the quote and video to inflame minoritiy groups all over the US.

    November 3, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  21. Robert N. constant

    There is more. Ted Cruz has campaigned claiming his father escaped from Castro's Communist Cuba. Cruz's father is on record admitting that he actually fought for Castro, then deserted and bribed his way out of Cuba in 1957 BEFORE Castro came into power. There is more. In the morning Cruz bragged at a conservative fund raiser that he had closed down the government. That afternoon on a CNN interview he blamed the Democrats for the government shutdown.
    The 2012 claims by Tea Party activists that President Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya were standard Right Wing talking points at that time from Bankruptcy Trump to Hate Radio. Cruz's father was part of that.
    Sadly, it is not just Cruz, but what has become the culture of today's Republican Party. Look at the words of Republican Senator ,Rand Paul, talking about an inciednt while he was in medical school, studying for a pathology test with friends in the library. "We spread the rumor that we knew what was on the test and it was definitely going to be all about the liver," he said. "We tried to trick all of our competing students into over-studying for the liver" and not studying much else.
    "So, that's my advice," he concluded. "Misinformation works."
    Here is another Republican proud about having lied to his classmates to gain personal advantage. He calls his big LIE "misinformation" and justifies it "because it works."
    The Republican Party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower is dead. The lack of honesty and truthfulness in this Tea Party Bunch is a stain on the principles of American Democracy. Vote these Scoundrels out!

    November 3, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  22. Mac

    So what's the problem someone stating their feelings? Cruz's right, Obama should go back to Kenya! Is this USA so crappy that someone can't state their feelings without being run down by some political leaning leftists? I'm a Libertarian and we see Obama for what he is. We will speak out until someone takes our total liberties away from us and this jerk seems to be genuinely trying to do that.

    November 3, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  23. Marinedad05

    @Not Chicken Little

    Yeah, someone's lying. And I think it's you. Don't just make up stuff to suit your arcane political views.
    Grow a back bone, get an education, and start thinking through things, instead of spewing hate, and blathering at will.

    Jeez! You guys aligned with people like Cruz, and his nutty dad, are way out there. Always though there were loons to the extreme Left, and guess what, there are raving idiots to the extreme Right.

    November 3, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  24. DennisJoe

    "Obama's author's biography put out by a publisher, said he was born in Kenya. "
    How many times does this have to be debunked before you slow learners figure it out. Pitiful.

    What I love about the tp is if you give them enough time running their mouths their true feeling come right on out. They can't even help themselves. They just can't contain their hatred and racism.

    November 3, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  25. waitaminute

    Ridiculous progressives jump an old man for repeating what's in Obama's Biography. Who gives a hoot. Obama and CNN are the liars and are fueled by lies that their completely illiterate base swallows whole.

    November 3, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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