(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.
There is no shame Mr Cruz. No one is quite sure of your family's motivation in making the comment. It was a sic comment alright and you aknowledge it also as such. The question now is of motivation. It is well known that you would want to hit out at anything and everything with O in it. So one is not inclined to accept it as a joke. It was a calibrated move that has backfired.
Ted Cruz and his father are jokes...the entire Teataliban is a joke and a plague on this country.
His father was a pastor! That helped me cleared any doubt about how integrity his father was i.e. so far since I began to be able to see false from truth I have never met any pastor whose words were in tune with the fact.
Cruz needs to start looking for another job or hang out his lawyer shingle, He'll be out very soon!!
aren't jokes supposed to be funny?
Any thing to argue about makes you all happy,
First and foremost Ted, if you do not want people to criticize or "attack" your father for what he says, then maybe you should stop allowing him to campaign for you.
Secondly, a joke? Really? Okay then.
Would you care to explain why your father felt it was necessary to make a racist joke at an event on your behalf?
Do you think racist jokes are an acceptable form of humor for political events?
Looks like Ted comes from a long line of people who say stupid things. I dunno how people like him even get considered to be elected (answer:money). I wouldn't entrust him to manage a mcdonalds. I bet he's not even capable of such a job yet alone representing thousands of people. He's the epitome of the type of politicians that are ruining this country and have been for a long time.
No one has to smear the guy. He did that all by himself.
I think people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks. Ted Cruz's father is one of those people. He came from Cuba, but wants to send Mr. Obama who was born in this country to Kenya.
"Like many Americans, he feels America is on the wrong track" and that's how he expresses it? Lets be honest, the wrong track the Reverend Cruz, his son, and others who support them believe America is on is that it has elected a black president. And, the elder Cruz does not speak for the senator? That may be true, but somehow the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
There was mention of sending Cruz back to Canada. Bad idea. We have enough self righteous religious wing nuts here already. He's yours. Your welcome.
We are upset because Cruz's dad told a really stupid joke? Ted Cruz has so many things wrong with him, I don't know why the media is down to picking on his dad. Completely unnecessary.
A dog will always a heir to another dog. And that is what a father to a son.
People who know President Obama wasn't born in Kenya (i.e., anyone with a working brain) would never make this "joke." Ted's dad was doing nothing more than throwing some red meat at the knuckle-draggers he was talking to.
1) Is Ted Cruz's dad running for office
Cruz Sr needs to shut up right quick!
The Commie with a Canuck for a son needs to renounce his very recently granted American citizenship and go home and fight for his OWN COUNTRY'S freedom.
As for his son, let him run for Parliament on the Canadian Conservative Party ticket and leave the US of A for good!
He too should consider going to Cuba to fight against the Castro regime.
Maybe Cruz should go back to Cuba.
I feel that Cruz and his father have lost touch with reality long before these remarks about our President were made. The remarks were NOT meant as a "joke" they are just more hate and racism toward our President. Ted "Fidel Castro" Cruz show follow their own suggestions and self deport back to Cuba!!!!!!!!!!
The father was not joking when he spoke about 'where the President go...
The son is a liar par excellence.
after reading these comments, and lets say that these comments & remarks were arrows.....and Ted Cruz's back was a bulls eye for instance.....lol – hate to say it....but his back would be so full of holes, a team of paramedics wouldn't save him.....lol
ALL pastors and priests are GREAT MEN of integrity. To think they are not is to BETRAY THE LORD. if the priest wasn't chosen by God, then God would DESTROY the priest by making him disappear from the earth.
Ive seen the videos on 'Mother Jones', they are pretty extensive (and mostly boring). What really surprised me was the idea that Ted Cruz is some sort of apocalyptic 'King' figure to a religious minority. I dont blame Cruz for what his father says or preaches, or his inability to shut him up (I think most people understand the inherent difficulties in telling your old man to shut up). But I am also pretty sure that Sen Cruz has plenty of things to answer for without his father's involvement.
Have a great day!
The specter of nonsensical birtherism has reappeared.
Cruz will never be president because Republicans hate him, blacks hate him, gays hate him and so do women. The ONLY people who love him are the racist, nutjobs extremist. Fortunately there aren't enough of them around to propel him to the presidency.