(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.
So what's the punch line to the joke ? That conservatives don't know that Obama was born in Hawaii, or that they do know and refuse to acknowledge reality ?
Maybe the real issue is that Cruz and his followers think that an insult and a joke are the same thing.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...
I've got a better joke.
Now I'm forced to have maternity coverage on my insurance.
I'm a man.
Wait, that's not really a joke. It's what the Obamacrats think is best for me.
The Joke is Ted Cruz and his father, Republicans have a way to turn around nasty remarks they say all the time. But the voters know they are serious and racial remarks. Cruz is a LIER and the people know it.
Obama is a joke.damn thug!
Rafael cruz is racist pig and a hypocrite..good luck..this is a perfect representation of the racist hypocritical republicant party...better start praying soon cause theres no hope for you...
maybe we should send Mr. Cruz back to Cuba, ohhh just joking!!!
Who cares about Ted Cruz, another fringe weirdo, kinda like Sarah Palin in a man's body. Not even an American, just a guy from Canada looking after the wealthy... This guy is just another Teabag holy roller.
Pastor Cruz should go back to Cuba and pick where he left off, on Castro's side. He's a communist.
Stupid people always say they're joking when they've been caught out saying something stupid.
Oddly enough, it happens a lot when Republicans are heard speaking about women, minorities, and people of differing orientations.
A racist pastor, great!
It is what it is: a racial joke. Not so funny because it excludes on the basis of race. If Obama's father was from Germany would he have said: "go back to Germany." Doubtful.
"sadly, those who are trying to play the politics of personal destruction are trying to smear him" are you talking about what your father said or about what people are saying about your dad?! Proving once again–one of the most important traits to have as a Republican is hypocrisy.
My suggestion is for senior Cruz to go back to Cuba where he would have been subjected to castros whim rather than living in our free country
A long time ago, I personally witnesses some of Billy Graham's uplifting sermons, and so I hope people don't mind it if I quote him here:: "The ground at the foot of the cross is level, and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross.". He also said that those who do not know Jesus are saved through their righteousness and will be with all good Christians in Heaven.
Reverend Graham (Sr) was ordained at Trinity Bible College, and stood shoulder to shoulder with Dr King against the hateful "political gospel" expounded by the likes of Pastor Cruz.
Pope Francis says: "Let's not tolerate the sad spectacle of those who keep seeking new ways to lie and contradict themselves to hold onto their privileges, their rapaciousness, and their ill-earned wealth.".
The reason that Christianity has flourished is not because of some hocus pocus material prosperity gospel, but because Christ himself embraced the least of us and by His words and his actions commanded us to address the inequities in society. He taught us how to love strangers, and to give them the same human kindnesses as our own kin.
There was no room for hate or intolerance in Jesus's teachings. Only tender mercy, understanding and love.
I love Pastor Cruz and pray daily for him and his son Ted to truly find Jesus.
After watching the video, if that was a joke, it sounded mean spirited and on the far side of the spectrum.
while this might be a joke...the supposed fact that Obama doesn't say "under God" in the national pledge of allegiance is no joke and is scandalous to say that because its just not true...look at any video tape of his saying it and it includes "under god"
It's ironic that a man born in Cuba would tell an American born in Hawaii to go back to Kenya.
If you do not want your political opponents to use something you say against you, be careful what you say.
The guys a joke
Thank you CNN for staying impartial instead of behaving like real journalists. This was no joke and if it was they have a very crude idea of what comedy is.
Send these two idiots back to Cuba. We do not need people (obstructionist) like them!!!!
Maybe the Cruz 'family' should go back to Cuba.
The spoken truth comes from the mouths of children and senior citizens. Maybe the Cruz family should follow the patriarch's advice and move back to Canada or Cuba.
Nobody cares that he doesn't lock away the crazy people in his family like other rich people do.