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. mikeb

    What , exactly are Ted Cruz' ideas on good governance ? He's never given any indication , except defund Obamacare . Does he agree with Paul Ryan and want to subject the country to severe austerity because it's worked so well in Europe ? Is he really the Tparty darling they think he is ? Or is he a Dominionist ? Someone who thinks the official religion of the US , should be Christianity , like his beloved father does . Does Ted think the wicked are in charge in Washington and social justice is a cancer , like his father ? Does he think gay rights is a conspiracy and women are inferior to men as spiritual leaders , like his father ? Does he think the ACA has death panels , like his father does ? So far all we have heard is , defund Obamacare as he crosses his arms and pouts his best Benito Mussolini impersonation . He hardly ever speaks to the media and bridles up when questioned about anything and gives a diversionary answer . He wants to be President ?

    November 2, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Jersey Girl

    And he is supposed to be a pastor?? Crazy. The ironic thing is that the Prez was actually born HERE, and neither Ted nor his dad were born here! Too funny! Kinda sad though....

    November 2, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Kathy from KBL

    Sorry but his father makes political comments all of the time. If Cruz can't take the heat perhaps he should drink his tea and shut up. The country would be a better place...

    November 2, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Malcolm

    part of integrity is honesty, and calling what was said a joke is a blatant lie. it was either meant as said or was meant to inflame not intended to make people laugh. evidently this great dad couldn't pass along some honesty to his son.

    November 2, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. PJ

    I would like to see Cruz return to Canada. His father sounds like an ignoramus. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

    November 2, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Rob

    Send these non Americans back to Cuba or Canada

    November 2, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Steve

    His fayher should get back on the boat n go back to whatever 3rd world country he came from. He should take his son with him. We need to rebulid our country like the days of President RR but instead we destoy everything that made me proud to salute our flag everyday.

    November 2, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. Mariel

    Ted Cruz and his neanderthal father should go back to the cave from which they came. I don't think Cruz senior's "joke" as Ted likes to refer to the dis-tastefull remake made by his father was funny at all. And I am a life long Republican, but not for much longer with the likes of Ted Cruz running and ruining my party.

    November 2, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. stevetall

    Once a knucklehaed, always a knucklehead. Cruz is a joke, and now we understand part of the reason.

    November 2, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Gone

    Cruz 1 & 2 need serious psycho help before they kill themselves.

    November 2, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Huh?!

    "Pastor Cruz does not speak for the Senator." but then we learn that was EXACTLY what Pastor Cruz was doing as he was sent in Ted Cruz' place to address a political meeting that Ted Cruz could not attend. "Hey, dad, go talk to these people, tell them my stand on issues and problems. Get them all riled up and everything but remember.... YOU DON'T SPEAK FOR ME!!!" Talk about pants on fire.....

    November 2, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. DavidKM

    Virtually everyone on this forum agrees that Cruz is a nutcase. So how is he getting elected?

    November 2, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. spudnik56 an idiot...

    November 2, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    The joke is Ted! Not funny either. Both are out of touch.

    November 2, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. Mark Silvers

    Given that a joke is defined as: a thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially. a story with a funny punch line.

    There is nothing funny about what Cruz's father is saying or the "spin" that Ted is trying to put on this. PATHETIC

    November 2, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    Neither GOP nor teatrolls have any kind of policies. Pathetic idiots of modern times. They need strong psychiatrists.

    November 2, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. fastrack1

    I don't understand why these Canadians are getting so much attention in the American political arena. Not born here, they should have no voice.

    November 2, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. tom l


    Well known fact: the Cruz's should go back to Mexico or Cuba, or whatever. Racism is played out!

    Wowzer. Best. Comment Ever. Especially with the user name. Do liberals even realize their hypocrisy?

    November 2, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. s d Dawson

    To The Individual Who Called The President Of The United States A Monkey, Ought To Realize That Monkeys Don't Graduate From Harvard, But That Individual Wouldn't Know Anything About Graduating From Any School.
    Idiots And Dummies Don't Graduate They Quiterate!

    November 2, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. carloooos

    like son,like dad.....both are kinda out of touch with reality on planet earth

    November 2, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. James

    How out of context can "Go back to kenya" be?

    November 2, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  22. jerryblackstar

    At least the president was born in this country. Ted Cruz's father is lucky he got into Canada and the U.S. otherwise, he'd still be in Cuba!

    November 2, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. Reason & Logic

    If Ted Cruz really intends to run for president his "...he made a joke" comment about his father's remarks will come back to haunt him in the GOP debates. If he seriously thinks that comment was a joke that harms his judgement credibility. He should have just said that his father made an inappropriate comment and left it at that. When these candidates make unscripted remarks (Ted Cruz' "...he made a joke") their communication advisers must close their eyes and clench their teeth in horror.

    November 2, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Olaf Big

    Ted, just send your Dad to back where HE belongs – with the Neanderthals.

    November 2, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. America, our country is bankrupt...cut the spending

    Ted Cruz is an American, a senator who is speaking up against the system that is bringing us an $18 TRILLION debt and growing, so let's move on and join the crusade to stop America's spend-a-holic problem.

    November 2, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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