(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.
Is Ted Cruz a plant? A democratic plant to bring down the Republican party? Is Donald Trump a democratic plant? These buffoons can't throw any softer pitches than they are right now. $26 billion Republican shutdown. Father making racist remarks. It's too easy. Too pathetic to be real.
Ted Cruz's both parents are Americans and has Cuban ancestry. He was only born in Canada while his parents were living in Canada. He has never lived in Canada.
Oh Please! The apple never falls too far from the tree, does it?
there is nothing funny about bigotry including from a pastors mouth .. quit now or he will do it again and agian until you do
Loose cannon father like loose cannon son. At least father can use his real name Rapheal Cruz unlike son who is terrified of tea potty racists.
I understand Ted, but would you believe all the comments made about your dad in response where also in jest! no worries!
Ted Cruz not from 'merica! Part of the UN conspiracay! Can't you people see the sheep in wolfves's clothing? The new anticrist ! Impeach the new devil from foreign soil! Secret Muslim? I fear the the true born socialist who admits it and lies about what he believes! TEd Cruz has triied to destroy America once with his shifty ways! Don't believe his true Taliban nature!
Sounds like hes a racist pastor to me..All these people thinking the prez was born on Kenya what a joke..He released his birth certificate..IS your birth certificate real? Im sure it is......... Go back to where you come from or support your commander AND CHEIF..Hes done a better job then his predecessor.....
Nice "joke". I wonder how many of these "jokes" he's told that weren't recorded.
it sounds like the son got his iradical up bringing from his father, who i see r one of a kind,I dont think that was a joke either,I am black and I treat everyone equal but I see alot of racial hostility in both of them,like they r say, he is a pastor and I wonder what God was thinking when the elder said that so called statement, maybe the father should go back to Cuba and live there and take his son with me since he has so many complaints about our, I should my government, I am a proud Black American woman, dont knock the people that run it, if u dont like how it is run, then leave.
Cruz senior is typical of ignorant pastors who spew hatred and lies from the pulpits. There are many of them in Texas, and in other places, busy too catering to the last remaining grey haired KKK stalwarts or their adult brainwashed children who make up the Tea Party. The younger generation easily sees through this practice of bogus christianity, so there is absolutely no hope for their kind in politics. Most former Cubans now living in the US are ultra rightwing nut cases. Sending these people over was probably Castro's secret weapon to destroy the US.
He, like you, are ee-di-otts. Reason I say that is, in the first place, no, your pop is not a man of 'deep integrity'. People with integrity do not make jokes like that. It's in bad taste, and it was probably put out there to get a high-five from the ultra rightie base he and you play to. All at the President's expense. So why not just be quiet. You've already said and done enough ignorant things for one term. At least wait til those goofballs in TX re-elect you before you start up again with it. Oh and BTW, thanx for causing the govt shutdown.
His father said the right words. I like Cruz because he speaks the truth and this generation does not want to hear that. There will never be another FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon. That's when the country was in good shape. We are in deep debt giving millions to Afghan and now Iraq wants help. Obama needs to bring the troops home from Afghan like he promised in his first campaign. We should not be protecting other countries let them fight their own battles. .
In a way you kinda wish the teabillies never go away because of all the entertainment they bring to us.
Mikeb: Cruz never said he wanted to be president. And what is wrong with christianity. This generation needs to wake up. We are in a debt that Obama can't get out of. Giving millions for the Afghan war. We shouldn't give any country money and we shouldn't fight their wars. I like Cruz and I like his father who said the right words. This generation had the chance to vote for Hillary but snubbed her. Well, I am glad for the shutdown but it didn't last long enough. I like Cruz and if he runs I will vote for him.
Nuts really don't fall far from the tree. Cruz should speak with the millions he put out of work with the shut down about the politics of personal destruction. Cruz is another "women should be in submission" evangelist republican. Cruz should go back to Canada and his father back to Cuba. It would even improve the gene pool in Texas.
I don't happen to like Senator Cruz's political perspective, but I don't think anybody should be answering for either of their parents social/political rants. I certainly wouldn't want to be.
I will say it, and I am not joking: Obama should go back to Kenya and stay. The worst president in American history has done enough damage, whether it be standing by and letting the economy flounder, the Marie Antoinette-style vaca, the over-reaching surveillance or the complete ruin of our healthcare system. This want-a-be dictator can take him and mochelle back to Africa. He can rule there like so many other corrupt African dictators. I want my country back.
Mr. Cruz should go back to Cuba. Maybe that would make him happy.
The only joke he made was you Ted.
The only joke he made was his son, Ted.
Yep, it's a joke. Actually the entire Cruz family is a big joke.
Ted Cruz's idea of integrity is warped. All I can say is that for a man who ran away from Cuba to say that? Wow!
I have news for everyone, most people have had the same thoughts as Ted Cruz's father! SO what? So he said he wished Obama would go back to Chicago or Kenya? So what? You will all think the same thing when you are paying triple premiums for your insurance. You don't think people wished Bush would go back to his ranch in Texas while he was president. Please.....the media is able to get people upset over nothing!
Cruz says his father is a man of deep integrity, and you can tell by his obvious racism, just like how Jesus would joke. Cruz is such a hypocrite, accusing people of having political motivation in ripping on his racist fasco-Christian buffoon when his idiot father made an insult based on phoney rage against the President for political reasons. I can just imagine the Cruzs', father and son, spending quality time goosestepping and sig heiling for Jesus around church property. Cruz is fast becoming an enemy of the state, a lying hypocrite, rabble-rousing right wing lunatic. And what cross do the Cruz's worship? The cross with bent arms to the right?