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. Citizen Caine

    The problem to Cruz is that Obama’s birth certificate is from THE STATE OF HAWAII… Cruz’s is from CANADA and his father’s from CUBA… BTW read somewhere that Cruz senior fought side by side with Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra… just a thought…

    November 2, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  2. Pander Bear

    YOU are an ill advised joke Ted. And the fact your playing the victim card for the same prejudice that you share with your father is a joke. Just when I think you can't get more obnoxious, you lower the bar.

    November 2, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. Steve Johnson

    In my opinion family members are only "out of bounds" if they aren't actively campaigning.

    Cruz's father is a very public figure and campaigns for his son, and because of that, it's perfectly reasonable to wonder whether the senator shares these ideas.

    November 2, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Jeb

    Cruz is from Canada, his father is from Cuba.

    When can we send them back?

    November 2, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. Colin Bainbridge

    How could it not become a political issue? It was a political statement. The U.S. political situation has become so polarized that it is a wonder that any decisions will ever be made. The country will forever remain in a state of stalemate, with uncertainty the only the policy, as long as representatives with extreme views are being listened to. As for the birth certificate issue- where was Cruz born?

    November 2, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Mark

    Send them both back to Cuba. Goodbye & GOOD RIDDANCE!!!!

    November 2, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. Steve in PA

    Just the fact that Ted Cruz is using words like ill-advised, and playing politics is ludicrous. He has become the poster boy for playing politics to his own advantage. He makes the story even worse by pointing out that his dad is a Pastor. I am not sure from which denominations pastors such as this emanate, but I find it hard to believe that they could consider themselves followers of Christ.

    November 2, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Maeve

    A joke? Really? Papa Cruz sure doesn't LOOK like he's joking the the video. He looks like he's on an angry rant. Maybe those laugh lines are something only his boy, Teddy can see.

    November 2, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. lnchudej

    Cruz's father "made a joke" that was juvenile. Cruz's father comes across as typical of the childish mentality of many pastors who love to "perform" for people in any venue from the pulpit to the political stage. Ted Cruz can look forward to many embarrassing moments caused by his father's obvious lack of intellectual intelligence and manners.

    November 2, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. plain and simple

    Fruit doesn't fall far from the tree does it!!!

    November 2, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Ladokguy

    This guy has more in common with Jim Jones than with any Christian minister I know.

    November 2, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. anahita

    The very fact that Ted Cruz refers to this as a joke shows just how much he is missing the point. It is not only factually incorrect, but it is demonstrates how intolerant he is to all immigrants, which is hard to understand being as how both he and his father are immigrants. Or is it that they are O.K. immigrants because they are "light skinned" immigrants? And then to claim:

    "those who are trying to play the politics of personal destruction are trying to smear him and use that to attack me."

    Just what exactly was the elder Cruz's intent if not just that?

    November 2, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. Reuben Caplan

    Does Ted Cruz' father know Mel Gibson"s father?

    November 2, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. nintex

    Yeah, right.

    November 2, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Hugh Harvey

    Mr. Cruz a lot of people in Texas like me think that you and your father and family should decamp and go back to Cuba. There is no good manners or belief racial equality in either of you. You and he act a lot like your patron saint, Fidel Castro.

    November 2, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. Binyam

    Now I know why Ted Cruze is such a destructive individual, he got it from his father.
    The old man should be aware of that we all came from different parts of the world, including Cuba.

    November 2, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. liberal disease

    not as bad as Obama making fun of the special olympics or Biden insulting Indian americans,or Hilary talking with aback southern twang

    November 2, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. blakenaustin

    The far left is very afraid of Ted Cruz. A rightly so. He exposing who they are.

    November 2, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. lorenzo fernandez

    First, Mr. Rafael Cruz is Cuban. That means that he's the one who should be packed in a container and sent back to Cuba. Mr. Obama WAS born in the US, contrary to Mr. Cruz Sr. and Jr., neither one having been born in the USA.

    Secondly, for anyone who should care to know, Cubans are the most racist people south of Florida. In fact, Fidel Castro owes his regime to the fact that Fulgencio Batista, the dictator he deposed was dark-skinned and the white ruling classes... those that were not on the take from the Batista regime, hated his guts for being... black.

    Ironic that this Cuban immigrant, Mr. Cruz senior, has the cojones to suggest that a REAL AMERICAN should be sent anywhere, when he and his son, both aggregates of this great country take upon themselves certain attributes of citizenship that is not theirs to take. Hypocrisy now has a new name. CRUZ.

    Please, sent those two to CUBA so Fidel can shoot them as they set foot on the island.

    November 2, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  20. Dixie Independent voter

    DAD was speaking his bigoted mind. Try to sugar coat it if you can.

    November 2, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. Tom in Desoto, TX

    So the Preacher Cruz wants Obama to leave the country he was born in. Will that mean “Family Cruz” will be headed south beyond the border? So much for that “good will toward men” and all that crap. Hmmm, Preacher speak with forked tongue. As the saying goes, “keep your mouth shut and just let them think you’re ignorant, don’t open your mouth and remove all doubt”

    November 2, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. edlada

    Yeah, maybe we should send the Cruz family back to Cuba. Ha ha, just kidding. Oh, that wasn't funny?

    November 2, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. mark hensley

    Yeah. It's always a big joke AFTER the fact with republicans.

    November 2, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. David

    The joke is you's to bad a fine state like Texas is putting up with people like you...

    November 2, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. scholarlymama

    Maybe Rafael Cruz should go back to Cuba, and ted Cruz should go back to Canada as decent people in the U.S. have no need for either one of them. Just kidding, right?

    November 2, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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