(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.
Do we really want to start holding sons accountable for what their fathers have done and said, because Barack Obama may not want that.
Just another republican. What wonderful people they are, to be sure.
It is easy to find the truth.. It is the opposite of whatever Obama says. Our Senator is trying to save us. Why is that so hard to see? God bless our Country...
Goodness, Ted Cruz would like us to ignore a bit of insight into how his family feels. It is priceless to hear families of immigrants talking about others like they belong more than others. Total BS. Thank you dad, for helping us understand the family.
Hopefully, we can see clear to elect folks with class and respect for others. Folks that have compassion for other sons of immigrants – even poor or sick people. Hopefully, we can change and do that even in Texas.
Note: I have no comment about who needs to go back to Cuba.
It would be much better for pastor Cruz to read all these posts tonight instead of preparing his sermon for tomorrow morning, he will understand that the pulpit in his church is probably not the place where he belongs. Repent pastor, there is nothing Christian about racism.
blakenaustin: "The far left is very afraid of Ted Cruz. A rightly so. He exposing who they are."
Well, if you go back far enough almost everybody on "the far left" is an immigrant or is descended from an immigrant. So yes, Ted Cruz's father, by insulting immigrants (even though Barack Obama is not an immigrant and both Ted and his father are - quite ironic, that), is insulting almost every American on both sides of the aisle.
Is that what you meant?
As for being "afraid" of Ted Cruz, let me say this: most Democrats would like nothing more than for Ted Cruz to gain the Republican nomination for POTUS in 2016. It would assure a Democrat victory.
Once you think you've heard the stupidest most ignorant statement conservatives can utter they fool you and come up with an even stupider ignorant statement. Now we know why Ted "Joe McCarthy" Cruz is so utterly stupid, he inherited his stupidity. Conservatives don't have a sense of humor at all.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Skip the jokes. Try saying something highly intelligent and thought provoking.
As the saying goes "the sins of the father will be visited upon ....."
If teddy bin laden and his papi are so close as he has said they are time and again I don't think the apple falls far from the tree. Papi said his son is the messiah. Lunatic anyone?
Papi has brought this upon himself and his son is following in his footsteps. Maybe mini bin laden's next job is that of a crazy right wing nutso preacher. Sort of what he is right now without the ability to destroy our country not his. He's Canadian, remember?
republicans are fascist and full of hate , etc.
What he probably meant to say was that his father is a joke. I wonder what magic Ted is going to invoke to show that he is a natural born American citizen if he intends to run for president.
Cuban Republicans talk like that about other minority groups, especially Hispanics. The Republican Party will dig a deeper hole if they continue to promote fake Hispanics Rubio and Cruz (both of Cuban descent).
Cubans should be that last people to show prejudice since there is so much African blood in them. What don't the Cruz's trace their lineage black to the days of slavery they may find themselves related to Obama.
It's possible they already know that.
Fred Flintstone: "Why was it a joke?.. I agreed with his father, in fact, obama needs to be sent back & never allowed back in the country. my hat is off to that gentleman."
Exactly. It wasn't a joke. And by the way, you do realize that if we did send all first-generation immigrants back to the country they were born in, both Ted and his racist father would be sent away and Barack Obama would still be here, right? Just checking.
"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."
Am I being asked to believe that Sen. Cruz led the effort to shut down our government and risk default because to assuage his genuine outrage at the Affordable care act rather than tawdry political motives. Puhhleeeeze!
It is easy to know the truth as it is the opposite of whatever Obama says.. Our Senator is opening the eyes of a blinded people. Be objective, think it through, remember what has happened. Be fair and open minded within the bounds of your own objectivity. Please escape politics of degrading the opposition. How often has the Democratic party sought to destroy anyone has dared to have a different political view? How childish are the political fights we endure. Is there no respect for a honest straightforward discussion? We are all Americans who can rise against adversity as one nation. We did it before and shall do it again..
A man of God as in this bigot is a God I don't want to know.
Little Ted, take tour old man and go crawl back under the rock you came from (in Canada) and stay there. I know the American people are sick and tired of you. One exuuse after the other. Do you really believe that your old man's ignorant statements made about OBAMA were intended as a joke??? The only joke is YOU!!!! I jreally can't stand to see or hear you.
Keep it up Teddy. Along with Palin and your twin brother Rand, you three stooges are the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic party.
Free loaders like the Cruz's are the reasons that type of person is not wanted or needed in any Country that has a legitimate Government. They like to suck the blood and honor from a legitimate Government that allows that type of population any legitimate type /of honorable position. They belong in Tribes where they are and never will be an asset in any way shape or form.
Just because a guy is anti communist and defines socialism as broadly as both Ted Cruz and his father does not make them good guys... all the fascists were staunch anti communists... if these people were not in positions that have impact on so many Americans they would be laughable.. but as they are where they are it is cause for deep concern.. I am hopeful it is a fad that fades like McCarthyism..
Because of his son's prominence Daddy Cruz is running with the Big Dogs. When he opens his mouth people listen...which is what he wants to have happen. If he cannot handle running with the Big Dogs he should stay on the porch and drink sweet tea.
Just another example of the inherent MEANNESS of the TEA-GOP. Those TEA-TWITS are a hate filled group of people....