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. ozzie

    People like Rafael Cruz are the ones that just to run Cuba before 1959 and created the likes of castro and company.

    November 2, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  2. Paul P, Valtos

    We are again going through a resurgence of "The Politics of Rage" and the memory of George Wallace. Segregation yesterday, today and forever. This out and our racist speak, a lunatic fringe of society. It is a shame that the republican party has been driven so low that they accept such slime in their party. They are not respectable enough to even be allowed I the seat of government.

    November 2, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  3. Paul P, Valtos

    nothing like soviet censorship

    November 2, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  4. Naim Khaimov

    Rafael Cruz should go back to Cuba and join Fidel, Raul, and the rest of the Castros!

    November 2, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  5. Tim

    I am not sure what is more newsworthy: Man makes a stupid statement or the resulting cooked up phony outrage by people who more than likely act in similar whatever! LOL

    November 2, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. bergus

    Sen. Cruz's job is to ensure that ALL americans retain the right to say things like this. even his father. shame on any of you who look down on a man for upholding american liberties. if you don't understand america, then you don't deserve it.

    November 2, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  7. bergus

    Sen. Cruz's job is to ensure that ALL americans retain the right to be able to say what they feel. even his father. shame on any of you who would look down on a man for performing his duties in spite of any potential harm to his re-election possibilities. If you don't understand the concept that america was founded on, you don't deserve to enjoy living here.

    November 2, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  8. Roger

    Ann Coulter said the very same thing on The Bill Murray Show last night. That "It was a joke." I wonder if she got the same talking point as Ted Cruz did, and I wonder who gave it to them. My guess is someone from the RABID RIGHT. Another TRICKLE DOWN TALKING POINT from the RABID RIGHT, the party of hate.

    November 2, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. Carlos Marin

    Hmmm... maybe he should go back to Cuba...

    November 2, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  10. Listen Because

    How is saying that a BLACK man should go back to AFRICA (Kenya is in Africa) a joke. Its a joke if I'm to believe it was a joke.

    November 2, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. David

    He also said that Obama is the anti Christ and does not say "under God" when he recites the pledge. I thought a pastor was supposed to tell the truth. Fact is that the father was not a US citizen when Ted Cruz was born in Canada, therefore, he can not be President, the wacko teabaggers may have missed that point.

    November 2, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. Cartman42

    So this is what passes for a joke among Christian Pastors? I seriously doubt it was a joke. I have visited a few "fire and brimstone" churches over the years, and it is clear to someone on the outside that racism is so ingrained in them that they don't even realize they are racist. There is more hate coming from Christians than from anywhere else, and they think they are good people.

    November 2, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  13. Cedar Rapids

    I think Cruz needs to be reminded by his pastor father that bearing false witness is a no-no.
    Anyone watching that video can see it wasn't a joke.

    November 2, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  14. Stella

    What a horrible man. And his son is no better. I will NEVER vote for that party.

    November 2, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  15. renata

    we do not want him here in Canada. Please anywhere but here.

    November 2, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  16. tired

    a "joke' couched in a racial slur hardly represents a person of integrity. I understand ted cruz's desire to protect his father, but his father was blatantly off base on this one. sorry, ted, but politics works both ways and a man of integrity would admit that he stepped over the line.

    November 2, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  17. hotstuffpdx

    Ann coulter claimed on bill maher last night it was a joke. Except no one laughed when papa cruz said it and he was dead serious. The ability of right wing politicians to lie at will is absolutely shocking.

    November 2, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  18. texasnotea

    It was not a joke! It is an all out lie to call what he said a joke. To even imply what he said was a joke is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. I'm sure Rafael Cruz jr loves his father but that has nothing to do with what his father said.

    November 2, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  19. mike

    Both Cruz's are just mean spirited men who should never be allowed to get anywhere near the levers of power in this nation. It would signal the death of the Republic.

    November 2, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  20. Vader

    That's the spin? It was a JOKE? Heard his shill Coulter say the same thing, and it didn't sound any better coming out of her mouth than it does here. C'mon Ted, you clearly are a smart man, you can do better than that.

    Or maybe you can't.

    November 2, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  21. Bun

    This sorry excuse for a human would be doing the US a huge favor if he just faded away to nothing. His father was not making a joke about Obama, he was just showing the world that he raised his son to be as big of an idiot as he is. PLEASE go back to Cuba and bring your Canadian spawn with you. Now that would be a step in the right direction for immigration issues in this country. This family makes me sick, Ted Cruz makes me sicker and he needs to shut his pie-hole and retreat it back to Texas to whatever rock he crawled out from under. OHHHHHHH, he is just absolutely AWFUL! I cannot even look at this guy or hear his voice on CNN without throwing up in my mouth.

    November 2, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  22. prism

    So it is OK to take a few lines of Obama's pastor out of context and blame him for being racist, but good heavens if someone takes Cruz's daddy pastor's comments out of context. I dont understand how "Obama needs to go back to Kenya" is out of context. That sentence can only have one meaning.. that he is not an american, but a kenyan... which is the same tree of stupidity that the republicans have been climbing and falling off since 2008.

    November 2, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  23. Craig

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

    Well, it's the standard he uses, so he doesn't really have much room to complain, does he. If you wrestle with a pig in the mud you both get dirty, Teddy. Maybe you shouldn't have crawled down into the mud in the first place.

    November 2, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    This guy came from Canada where there's free healthcare and where his father was able to take paternity leave as a new dad and still get paid, and wants to punish struggling Americans for letting them live here! Why can't they take their idea of small government back to Canada?

    November 2, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  25. rich

    It seems as if his dad never took the time to learn proper english either. How long has this bozo lived in america? go back to cuba you idiot.

    November 2, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
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