(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.
Cruz take your teaparty racist father, pastor my ass and go back to Cuba or Canada , there's no chance you will ever be realected in this country and by the way, are you even an American citizen and where's your and your dumb fathers papers and where's your mother or do you have none?????
Ship him back to Cuba.
that's the first response from most racists..."it was just a joke"
Send these losers back to Canada.
Rotten apples don't fall far from the tree.
Like father like son, no shame, no country. Talk about bundle up. You and your father should be bundled up and through out of this country. Atlantic or Pacific, freedom of your choice. This country is far better off without you two.
A joke? Ted, perhaps YOU are the joke.......you fooled us all....winning a seat in the Senate...
" are trying to smear him and use that to attack me. That's a shame."
Don't sweat it Ted... you're doing a great job of that all by yourself.
Ill advised joke? He must have been talking about The Tea Party
Mr. Cruz, if you call that a joke, you are not fit to be a US senator.
He was not making a joke. He was saying what he believes, and to an audience he knew would believe it, too. Did you hear the hooting, cheers, and applause when he said that?
GOP itself a biggest Joke in USA. Pathetic idiots of this 21st century. Very pathetic. Shame.
Ted Cruz is the Republican parties "ill-advised joke"
hilarious 'joke' maybe someone should tell Mr. Cruz to go back to Mexico - Racism is so laugh out loud hilarious...
It's so bizarrely ironic that Rafael Cruz would even hint that he thought Barack Obama shouldn't be president because he supposedly wasn't born in the U.S. Ted Cruz wasn't born in the U.S.!! He fully acknowledges he was born in Canada!
This coming from Cuban Canadians go figure. The hypocrisy is a staple on the tea baggers.
cruz the 24 billion dallar joke on the gop teaparty idiots , should take his fake pastor back to cuba or Canada or somialia where they have the same values, none. cruz, are you even an American citizen, one term and out.
Send the older back to Cuba and the younger back to Canada and this country would be a heck of lot better off. Both are dipsh–s.
Fascist tendencies have a long history in Central and South America. The elder Cruz is just an example of that, someone whose time has long since passed. He's more appropriately pitied than hated. His son, on the other hand, is a clear and present danger to what's left of political sanity in the U.S.
Sen. Ted Cruz was born in Canada. Is another birther controversy brewing?
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree
Like Father , Like Son !
"I love my father," Cruz said Friday. "He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity. And he made a joke."
Send President Barack Obama "back back to Kenya."
I don't get the joke
Cruz's dad is just another "preacher" who has made a fortune off of scamming the simple minded... Seems like Ted learned a lot from dear old dad.
Maybe they should send him back to Cuba!!!! People are so dang angry these days b/c of the past administrations
bad judgments (George Bush) that have left them in terrible dire straits. And to hear these remarks, especially from
the man of the cloth is totally wrong. Joke, I think not. And just a small clue here, President Obama was born in
Hawaii.....everyone on the same page now?
Mr. Cruz, please tell me that Dad "urged voters to send President Barack Obama "back to Chicago, back to Kenya.""
is not the "Politics of Personal Destruction"?
Seriously, Man up.
"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."