(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.
For a laugh, send Pastor Cruz an inner tube.
Ted, why don't you and your Dad go back to Canada? Just joking: hah, hah, hah, hah hah, hah, hah, hah..............
Cruz go back to Cuba and take your very confused daddy with you. If anyone should leave this country is your father. I am sure he came to this country illegally! Now this old fart thinks highly of himself, and his son is caught up in the middle!
Don't drink koolaid at the republican Baptist church
to the Cruz's....you know the bible
a question for each of you, are you the Pharisee or are you the tax collector
the bible gives us all guidance
Right. A joke-like joking about blacks being slaves? Or Mexicans being wetbacks? Are those also acceptable just because they're 'jokes'? If there's any politics in play here it's by Cruz, trying to spin a smear attack *by* his father into a smear attack on him.
"Ill-advised"? In other words, Ted and Daddy agree, it was just the wrong moment. Perhaps he'll advise Daddy when he thinks the time is right to put on their sheets.
You can't fix stupid even if you claim to be a man of "God". There's nothing about this small brain that has anything to do with God. God himself would put him on the first bus to hell, and his son too.
Whatever Pastor Cruz really believes, he was saying these reprehensible things in his effort to garner votes for his son. And, no, they were not meant to be jokes.
Please stop saying Cruz is a Canadian. We have enough of his kind of crazy that are home-grown without having to worry about imports.
This is really quite ironic. But it does reveal that "conservatives" are racists. For a guy from Cuba to say to someone born of another country "go back to Kenya." The natural response is why don't you go back to Cuba?
Conservatives are angry people and their default position is non-compassionate anger and rage.
The real joke on America is that Ted Cruz, who seems just like his father, is a member of Congress. He seems to have delusions of greatness.
I think it is time for the Tea Party to be declared a separate political party and see if they can stand on their own. It would at least allow for a more functional congress with a three party arrangement. I do not believe that the majority of Americans agree with their brand of politics.
Like Ted Cruz wouldn't have been on the reverend wright bandwagon, he is quick to associate but also quick to defend against associations....hypocrite and a Cuban Canadian who acts american
I love all these liberal dolts and their idiotic comments. Crawl back under the rocks where you belong.
No Thanks! We don't want Cruz here in Canada..and no his dad was not joking...
The biggest sign of personal weakness is when some jerk says something shameful and derivisive, and then says, "Oh, I was just making a joke.", or "I was just being funny. I guess you didn't get it. Sorry you didn't catch my humor."
What they are really doing is showing what is in their heart, and it isn't pretty, or Christian.
Case in point: the Cruz twosome, both father and son.
All you "good" Christian folks who support Senator (sic) Cruz need to understand what is in his heart, cuz it isn't pretty or Christian.
Ted Cruz is a Judas Goat. A Judas Goat is a goat which belongs to the rich man who owns the farm. His job is to convince the sheep that he is one of them. After he convinces the sheep to follow him, he leads them into the shearing house to be fleeced. This is the story of the Tea Party. The rich man who owns the farm, Wall street, oil companies, big pharma, and many international corporations own the Judas Goats of the Tea Party. When Congressmen like Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and others talk about less government regulation and lower taxes, what they are really saying is less government regulation for environmental polluters and Wall Street Fat Cats. Ted Cruz is not a Texan. He was elected by money from out of the state- money from the rich man who owns the farm.
Obama was born in the U.S and these two kooks were born in another country. The hypocrisy of the far right never ceases to get more insane!!
Funny how a man and a supposedly in sequential Tea Party movement can scare progressives/liberals and MikeB, you truly aren't a student of politics if you believe or think Ted Cruz 's only agenda is to defund Obamacae. Yo may not like the man or his politics, bu he's the closet thing to brilliant I've seen in Congress in awhile. Also has a bit of spine whih used to be known as statesmanship and not just a career
What Ted Cruz can't admit is his Dad is a bigot. He hides behind religion to excoriate Obama as if Obama was from Kenya it is a crime. Ted Cruz will have to put a muzzle on his Dad or he will never see Iowa.
The dude who was born in Cuba, decided to move to Canada, and come to the United States... calls for an American Born president to go back to Kenya? Not a joke, it is just him being the pathetic loser he taught his son to be.
This is the dumbest thing I've heard in a while. Idiot can barely speak English and an immigrant at that...yet he wants to send an American back where? Enough of these stupid people already. Ted and dad are STUPID!!!! Enough of the disrespect towards the president. I served my country honorably and was taught to respect those appointed over we. Where has it all gone. The Cruz's need their asses kicked...they are running wild and need to be put in their place.
That was disrespectful. I was channel surfing yesterday when I stopped at Pastor Hagee preaching to his Mega congregation in San Antonio, He said; " The Government wants us all to eat yogurt because its supposed to be good for us...Don't ya'll agree that the Government should stay out of our business?" The congregation happily applauded. Meanwhile his mega church receives 501(k) Tax breaks from the same government he is disrespecting. I wish Texas would just Go Away!
I'm not going to respond to all of the 508 posts but rather only to the last several. You people are so full of double standards. It anything was said about the President's Pastor and what he said about America you would all be screaming like you have in the past. This is not what the President or Senator Cruz said it's what Senator Cruz's father said. Do you not believe that he has the right to say whatever he wants without your condemning the man or his son? What about what the President's Pastor said about America? "God Damn America!" When that was brought up it was tried to be put on the President. President Obama didn't say that, his Pastor did. What is the difference here? Your double standards are amazing. Get off it!