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

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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. Xynix

    A man of "integrity" doesn't make racist comments to get a rise out of his audience. He uses real talking points and comes up with solutions so that his audience gets excited about his ideals. Based on the prior several years though, the GOP has had zero solutions, only obstructionism. They're only talking points at this stage are such things as birth certificates and Kenyan jokes. Real impressive folks..

    November 2, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. Pastorcruz

    Pitiful that a supposed man of God would be so vile and maliciously racist as to attack a sitting President by race baiting to pander to the most hateful, race motivated extreme right wing base who are still looking for a justification for their emergence other than racism against this President.
    Equally pitiful that in this day and age is the fact that he would gather a sprinkling of one or two token female black-cuban relatives to stand in in the crowd as he a "Pastor" launches the usual "go back to Africa" attack against the only half-Black president ever elected.
    The pastor wants his son to be president and has figured the only way to do so is to incite the worst racist instincts of the Tea-party, this unfortunately is the seam father and son have discovered and will harness its potency to the fullest since John MacCain prevented Sarah Palin from trying.

    November 2, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. mary

    I think not.. It was nothing more than a hateful remark meant to try to discredit the President in the same way the GOP and the ignorant racists have been going at him from the start.
    The "joke" in this , is that Cruz's father is CUBAN.. And his son born in Canada..
    I am sick of the hypocrisy of these low life GOP tea bagger Republicans..
    Can't tell me he does not share his Fathers ignorant view either.

    November 2, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. Former Texan

    "Ill advised"? A man of integrity? If he's what Ted claims his father to be; then why did he not become a USA citizen until 2005? Anyone with INTEGRITY could have become a U.S. citizen as soon as he married a U.S. citizen. Not only does this father purportedly have integrity but also espouses "hatred" towards another human being by calling him to go "back to Chicago and Kenya". Isn't that like calling a "pot calling a kettle black"? If anyone who should go anywhere it should be for him to go back to Cuba as he has proven he's not into our way of life – the freedom of everything this country stands for. This man and his son won't be welcomed at the pearly gates.

    November 2, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. bushkilledthegop

    The cruz family should go back to Canada.

    November 2, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. Namewaeaeawa

    It is so bad here, Kenya doesn't even want zero back

    November 2, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. GMan

    The bottom feeders are at it again....

    November 2, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. Chris Keal

    ""sadly, those who are trying to play the politics of personal destruction are trying to smear him...." Isn;t that EXACTLY what Cruz does EVERY day towards the POTUS???? OH, THE IRONY!.....

    November 2, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Tony

    Ted Cruz does not want to be sent back to Canada. Unlike Obama, there is actual evidence that Ted Cruz was born in Canada.

    November 2, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Dada

    the nut does not fall far from the tree....just say'n

    November 2, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Matt

    One of you go back to Canada and the other Cuba!!! Did you know Cuba and France have better Health Care for their people than any other country?

    November 2, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. harry

    there's your integrity for ya, "selective quotes", "taken out of context", mischaracterize the substance" – the man said it then doesn't have the onions to stand up when he's called out – that's all you need to know.

    November 2, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Name john vandra

    The apple does not fall far from the tree.

    November 2, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Bubba

    Just another preacher in the church of the KKK. Until the GOP learns to distance themselves from these racist yahoos; they will be considered racist yahoos themselves. it is not enough to ignore evil. The self proclaimed Righteous need to actually get off their rears and combat evil.

    November 2, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  15. BobinCO

    "Pastor Cruz does not speak for the Senator."

    Considering that Senator Cruz passes it off as a "joke", it sounds like his father pretty much does. Furthermore, I don't see any "outrage" over this. What I do see are folks across the country quietly waking up to the reality of what really resides in the souls of these "conservatives."

    November 2, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. June

    It might be a joke to Ted, Might be a joke to his father, but no one else is laughing.

    November 2, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. tara

    I love how these politicians always use the "out of context" copout. Please, give me a context in which those words aren't awful.

    November 2, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. BlackThought

    And the tea party wonders why people call them racists.

    November 2, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  19. ObamaisaMonkey

    Obama should go back to the should the rest of the yard apes

    November 2, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. bearitstrong

    "he said critics were motivated as much by politics as by genuine outrage."

    No, Ted, people are REALLY outraged.

    November 2, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. jow smith

    Maybe he should go back to Cuba

    November 2, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Coldcut

    This is a typical move of Ted Cruz where he accuses others of the actions which he, in this case his father, is responsible for. It was, of course, his father that started the personally destructive statements with the insinuations regarding Obama's "otherness." This is the same technique Cruz used during the shutdown where he had the gall to accuse others of "playing games" and even "shutting down the government." These are the tactics of a demagogue. Keep vigilant.

    November 2, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. MJW

    I honestly do not want to dignify this comment by responding, but just a simple message for both Cruzes. Be careful when you dig a pit, you might fall in it. We can see the apple did not fall far from the tree. Remember folks he migrated from Cuba and his son was born in Canada. Who do they think they are?

    November 2, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. dkc_2001

    This man is a pastor? Wow.

    November 2, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. Brandi

    When will people learn that racist jokes are NOT funny! As a pastor Mr Cruz should know better. All this tells me is that Ted Cruz is just a big of a racist as his father. This is the equivalent of telling someone that they need to go back to Mexico. Fire Ted Cruz...oh and FYI I'm from Texas.

    November 2, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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