November 2nd, 2013
11:45 AM ET
9 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. jboh

    Anyone who saw the tape knows this was no joke. Not surprising considering Cruz says this crap all the time.

    November 2, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. John

    Not a very funny joke if you ask me. The pastor and a man he should be deeply ashamed of his comments.

    November 2, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. G D

    We are on the wrong track, and Cruz is emblematic of exactly what & who s wrong. Narrow minded, distortional, and causing harm to the country. Vote him & his ilk out of office, we cannot put up with more damage.

    November 2, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. securemycloud

    Too late, bozo. You're out

    November 2, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Tea Bagger Slime

    Ted Cruz is a slime ball and his father is an old Cuban fart that should be deported back to Cuba where he belongs. I know the type well and lucky for us, they are all dying off.

    November 2, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. Skarphace

    This is the racist that tought Ted Cruz how to think growing up. Is it any wonder why Ted is so adamantly anti-everything Obama?

    November 2, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Hotdog

    The Father and the son is a joke. Either one have a lot of explaining to do. If people are that gullible to support Cruz and his politics than the United States deserves just what it gets because that tea pot ideology is no good.

    November 2, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. BS

    You cannot have a person go out and campaign for you, and then say he "doesn't speak for the Senator". If a person born in Kenya (just go with it) of an American citizen can be president, why is it any different for a person born in Canada to an American citizen....ohhhh, I get it....must be a racist thing. Good job pastor.

    November 2, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Skarphace

    I really need to do better at editing before I post. That was "son", not "sone" and "taught", not "tought". Ugh.

    November 2, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. oharris30

    I get so tired if these bigots saying disrespectful comments about the president and someone says they were taken out of context. How? We all heard it. Why can't bigots just come out and be honest about who they are? Clearly his son feels the same way after his clown fillibuster act. So much for religion. In this country we learn to respect the Office of the President. those who don't truly do not belong anywhere in government.

    November 2, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Siestasis

    How about Curz's dad goes back to Cuba and Ted goes back to Canada. What a loser family.

    November 2, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. steven harnack

    How can you "smear" someone by showing them speaking to a crowd of people? It floors me that anyone at all can support such ignorance.

    November 2, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. unclefcr

    Maybe Ted Cruz should go back to Canada......

    November 2, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Andy

    While I might wish to send Sen. Cruz back to Canada, back to Cuba – he is here as a legitimately elected senator representing Texas. As a man of "deep integrity," Pastor Cruz takes ownership of his own words. If there is a need for explanation – Pastor Cruz can do that on his own. Sen. Cruz can either endorse his father's words or he can make it clear that his father does not speak for him. Trying to spin his father's words to suit his needs shouldn't be an option.

    I recall that President Carter's brother was an embarrassment to the president at times. I think President Carter had the good sense to maintain his affection for his brother while keeping Billy's public utterances and shenanigans at arms length. Sen. Cruz might be prudent to behave similarly.

    November 2, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. Chris

    Can we joke saying we want to send Ted Cruz back to Canada?

    November 2, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. oharris30

    father like son. Two unpatriotic jerks. Preacher? Does he know what the Bible says against "the tongue"?

    November 2, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. DN

    Is Senator Cruz taking a medication that keeps him from vomiting? I'm surprised he hasn't made himself sick from all the spinning he did, politically speaking. "Out of context"? It's not as if accusations from conservative groups that the President was born in Kenya are new?

    Just sad that people can be so ignorant - and intolerant to that extent of anyone who disagrees with one's political beliefs.

    November 2, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. RogerDale

    Like father, like son.Ted Cruz, you're the only ill-advised joke here. What's the difference between you and your fathers behavior and Rev. Jeremiah Wright? I can't believe the people of the great state of Texas allow you to represent them.

    November 2, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Mike Trottier

    What his father said was NO joke, he knew what he was saying, and everyone there knew what he meant.
    Cruz is a slimeball, you can just see it all over him.
    The man literally makes me ill,.....he's not America,......he's what's wrong with America!
    I Will Not Vote For This Man
    I Will Not Vote For Any Teatard,......period!
    and,.....it will be a very long time before I ever vote for a republican again.

    November 2, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Bookldy209

    Yes, like the GOP hasn't been doing the same for years. Recall how quick all were to jump on Hillary for her ill-advised comment about the embassy bombing "What difference does it make?" Any thinking person understood she meant it wouldn't bring those people back and now how to prevent from happening again. Aside to the Cruz handlers, time to keep gramps out of the spotlight.

    November 2, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Larry in Houston

    """"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""

    hey Ted, hate to be a bearer of bad tidings, but let me put it this way....This is not going to help you in your political future.....and I may add, even IF your Dad didn't bring you up that way....(with his comments/remarks) It's sort of like glue, it automatically tags you, in every event you are at, or every place you go....Ted, remember one thing....things that your family and friends say about you, sticks.....especially if it comes from a family member.

    Although nobody said you didn't love your Father.....it doesn't matter if he's a Pastor / and/or a man of Integrity, or not, Ted......But that type of "Joke" isn't good, politically......That type of remark is typically said among a bunch of teenagers, on the sidewalks, or in a mall, & etc....Not coming from a "Pastor" or a "Man of Integrity"

    Here's a perfect example : Why do you think Obama left that Church in a heartbeat, after hearing 'ol Jeremiah" wright make those statements that He did ? Obama distanced himself ever since.

    November 2, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Mike

    The issue is that the Senator brought his father into his political life. He campaigned with him and made his own father a part of his "team". Then don't come and say that he isn't a representation of you and that others are running a smear campaign. You are fine with any comments by your dad that gives you voters but any backlash and suddenly the democrats are running a smear campaign based in what YOUR team put out there. Freaking joke

    November 2, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Zayah V

    Yes telling a black man to go back to Africa is a joke. They can't even do a good attempt at hiding their racism.

    November 2, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. Reno Blue

    Ted Cruz is a Canadian who is not qualified to be President. His political views are nearly fascist and his arrogance and self-righteousness are enough to make you gag. He is working to destroy our democratic system of government and was willing to drive the economy over a cliff. But I am only joking....

    November 2, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Dyktator

    President Obama should go "back to Chicago, back to Kenya" was an 'ill-advised joke' ehh!! Cruz, send your albino papa back to wherever or whatever gutter country he or his grand albino papa came from.....oh btw it was my 'ill-advised joke' too!

    November 2, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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