(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.
Send the black man back to Africa. Funny stuff there, Cruz.
Like father-like son, a Racist. Where is His Birth Certificate?
Joke? Here's another one, "Go back to Cuba". ( Are we getting a chuckle? Didn't think so. )
No – President Obama was duly elected to his office. Why should he go back anywhere when he is the legitimate office holder? If that racist dirty crook of a senator wants him to go back to Chicago then he will just have to wait – since his party was not able to make a compelling argument to replace him with one of their own in the last election.
Cruz is a bad canadian joke.
"he is a pastor"; well if he is a pastor then why isn't he preaching the life giving message of GOD's grace? Typical neoconservative who likes talking about politics more than loving people.I do not understand how American christian can be fooled by these charlatans. They talk about GOD while denying the power of His word. They do not realize that Jesus was and is a socialist who was and is concerned about the well being of all people." GOD so loved the world" not just American neoconservatives that He gave His only Son.
Proof of the saying " Like father like son or the nut doesn't fall far from the tree."
The only joke is Ted Cruz.
Just goes to prove that racism and ignorance run rampant in the Cruz family.
Racism is alive and well, yet American's continue to deny this reality and try to squirm out of every little situation where it surfaces. In any case, such disrespect for the President of the United States, despite one's political beliefs or any other opinions, is completely unacceptable.
He's just telling people in his area what they want to hear. If that's how they feel, they should leave and see if Texas can survive on its own.
Just around the shutdown this year a few weeks ago, Tea Party politicians were at an event where there were many speakers who were still questioning Obama's citizenship, and talking about that he should move back to Kenya and things like that, and all the did was bash Obama from beginning to end. They are not joking, that is what they truly believe, which is what is pretty sad. How can the Tea Party even exist? Just because they are not the ones saying it out loud, it doesn't mean they don't think like that too. If they are hanging around people who do say these things, and are with them at every event, it means that they believe it too.
Mr. Cruz and son are more than welcome to go back to Mexico.
Seriously? Ill advised my ars! Racist and everyone knows it.
Ted Cruz is Typical of a Republican! LIE LIE LIE!
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree huh.
Ted Cruz is an idiot. His father is an Idiot and anyone who vote's for him is an idiot.
Yeah. The problem is that "joke" is really NOT funny and lack of taste and reflecting of true intention and behavior of bigotry.
Pastor Cruz doesn't sound too Christian.
"Ill advised joke"? I highly doubt it. More likely an intentionally-inflammatory statement that he knew would get a rise out of his base. Using his "pastor" status to advance his hateful, unchristian agenda.
Mr. Cruz, please go back to Cuba, and send your son back to Canada.
If Cruz's father doesn't want to be criticized for what he says then maybe he should just keep his mouth shut in the future.
A man of deep integrity doesn't make jokes like that
That was no joke. Cruz's father said what he thought; he thinks that someone who has African discent should not be allowed to be President of the US. Ironically, Cruz is of Hispanic discent, so by his own reasoning, his sone should not be allowed to be POTUS either. If we are going to keep our highest office lilly white, then his son is ineligible to run.
Too late, bozo. You're out of the picture.