(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.
The inside voice of the true thoughts gets out every now and then.
Cruz. You dad is a gay c0cksuck@r!! Oh, just a joke!
I see why the son is a nut. When are the moderate Republicans going to take back their party. Where are you Colin Powell ?
This was not a joke and the intend was at Pres. Obama just like that idiot Donald Trump did. This was not funny since I'm sure the Cruz family would not like it either if they were told to go back to Cuba. This Cruz family has not a cent of family values such respect thou neighbors and he calls himself a Pastor. He's no Pastor to me but instead he's a hypocrite using God to promote his political agenda.. Cruz family should go home to Cuba or Canada which ever country fits your values but not here in the USA.
A joke??? What was so funny about that statement? Other than being totally disrespectful to the President of the United States. These so called jokes have been going on for years. When will civility make a come back? I don't see that happening until voters have finally decided they have had enough of the Tea Party and their shameful ways. They do not govern . They only obstruct. Our country's future is at sake. Vote the Tea Party out in 2014.
It is too bad that people cannot take responsibility for what they say and do. The Pastor is the one who must take responsibility for what he said and not his son. His remarks were ill-advised and it is time that we all were more aware of what we say and do.
Senator Cruz has his own issues such as apologizing for the billions of dollars his actions caused. Closing down the government hurt many, many people and before any action was taken the Senator should have taken note of the harm this action would cause.
A pastor but not a man of God.
As an Af-American, I am still burned by the memory of "Go back to Africa" comments. I now know our family has been here for at least 330 years, including service in Washington's army. I am not amused by Mr Cruz. Comments like this guarantee blacks to the Dems for another generation. I know Ted did no utter these words, but his response is less than tepid. Stop! Make a play for those of us who are brown. Demographic change is a'coming!
Don't know which one is a bigger tool..... apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
And on a completely unrelated topic;
I was in the Truman library the other day, and they had a whole section on Joe McCarthy. I was reading the display, came around the corner and there was a larger than life photo of Mr. McCarthy. I kid you not, I immediately KNEW that it was Sen. Cruz. There was no mistaking it. The resemblance was uncanny. I came home, looked it up on the internet, and there were a gazillion entries comparing the two. If you are inclined to be spiritually open minded, here is a classic reincarnation.
The Dad came to this country for protection from a horrible life in Cuba, and look how he is treating his freedom. He has poisoned his son with the hate of his ungodly messages along with other non-thinking individuals. Both the Father and Son are a danger to this country. But our President stays above the fray, and he does not lower himself to level of two crazy Tea Party nuts. How does a Preacher of God stand before people and tell God-awful lies? Any other country would arrest them and throw away the key.
send the son cruz back to canada and send the father back to cuba this is not a joke!
Every time they get called on their remarks that feed the hate and justifie the Uber-extreme right wing it turns out they were just joking, telling a funny, satire, 'Don't you have a sense of humor?'! Do they really expect any of us who've been listening to buy into that!
So Pastor Rafael Cruz wants send Obama "back to Chicago, back to Kenya." A little like the kettle calling the pot black don't you think? I'm no fan of Obama's, but should someone named "Rafael" be talking about sending anyone back anywhere??
How absurd since Sen Cruz was born in Cuba! NOT THE. USA. So how can he run for President? Huh Huh Huh
Name two people that have said Kenya is Obama's homeland, ...Cruz Sr, and Michele Obama. Cruz was joking though when he said it.
So lets get this straight. Your father is a man of god and integrity which is why he made a joke out of someones ethnicity amd background? A man that himself came to this country as an illegal running from oppression and yet now calls for others to go back to where they came from?
A hypocrite in all rights like father like son.
And we see another shining example of the saying: "Behind every joke lies a sliver of true intent."
Thanks Mr. Cruz Senior for illustrating what the GOP is all about. Hate.
Ted and his father should get a choice between being deported to Canada or Cuba!
Yeah, Ted, your father made a joke. You.
Thanks for the explanation Ted, it ranks up there with all the other lame cover ups for bigotry. All that was missing was the usual "some of my best friends are black" comment. Remember Ted, when your father is out stumping for you everything that comes out of his mouth is just like you said it yourself.
Mischaracterize? It's on video and we can hear his words as he said them.
There was no characterization, only the facts, therefore there can be no mischaracterization.
Ted Cruz is doing what Sarah Palin did. That is, if a direct quote makes me look stupid, then it's your fault for using it.
Palin-Cruz 2016! Go team!
What about the taxes that the Cruz's mother should have paid the US as "US Citizen" when she allegedly worked the oil fields of Canada? Daddy obviously was a tax dodger because he wasn't a citizen, but a tax dodging "patriot" until 2006.
It goes to show that people have to be taught to hate and apparently Rev. Cruz has taught his son very well.
Ted and his dad are both reprehensible. If the pastor is a Christian
his message speaks louder than his faith. Texas bullies are going to
find that middle America is going to repudiate the Tea Party and the
Republicans who support them. None of their rhetoric is about their
patriotism it is more about their politics of destruction. Texas and the
South need to hear what intelligent and inclusive Americans have
to say about their manipulation and control. These haters need to
know that 20 years from now the United States of America is
going to give the majority to minorities and then we will see a
return of this country to the spirit of its founding fathers. Bless
Obama and Obamacare.