(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.
That is a very strange joke. He should know better, or, should I say, care better.
DOC: You are correct. Palin, Cruz, Beck, etc. are truly domestic terrorists that prey on ignorance.
He's a pastor?! It's one thing to be your father, it's another to be a religious man and speaking of hate. If that was a joke, I wouldn't want to hear his preaching
What this country needs is a man who can talk for 21 hours straight.
I feel sorry for this cointry, we have people who are so screwed up, they will listen to lies about our President, rather then seek out the truth. Oh, and by the way, it against the law to preach politics from the pulpit if you are tax exempt because you are a organized religion.
"The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan values and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism."
Reinhold Niebuhr, American clergyman and author (1892-1971
That was no joke!!! He made a statement. I saw the video...If it was a joke, no one in the audience was laughing (they were clapping!!). PLEASE politicians do me a favor, if you're caught making rude comments...STOP dismissing it as a joke!! Because we know that it wasn't!!
I'm sorry, Sen. Cruz, but your comments only make things worse. By all accounts, your father is intelligent enough and experienced enough in public speaking to know precisely how his remarks would be interpreted. It was clearly a remark in the idiotic birther vein. You said that the remarks mischaracterize and misquote his position, which is simply wrong. You attack those criticizing his position as having political motivations. Well, his remarks clearly had political motivations themselves, so what do you expect?
You practice an "in your face" style of politics, so you should not complain when you get that response in return.
Obama had a problem because the pastor at his church, which he attended once a week or so for 25 years said things a portion of society didn't like and claimed that he had this huge influence on Obama.If that was your position, fine. Now you need to defend it. Because Ted Cruz got to grow up listening to his dad talk like this every day of his life, and still listens to it. If Obama was influenced by a guy he listened to an hour or so a week, what kind of influence did Ted Cruz, Sr. have on his son?
Ann Coulter says Cruz's father was making a joke...funny, there's nobody laughing in the video that shows this moron saying that.
That apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
His Dad's worst joke is his son.
Jeez, really goes to show you what the Canadians think. Why is everyone from Canada so racist and dumb? Really, nothing good has come out of Canada since Rush.
I agree with cruz father ... Its not racist, obama is a distaster w power
When a church pastor stands in the pulpit and begins to talk politics, that is when I will get up and leave. Churches are for worshipping and is no place to display your political preferences; it's offensive to others. Most Republicans describe themselves as "Christian Conservatives," but their behavior is certainly not that of a Christian.....no way! They push that "Christian Conservative" bit just to attract those who really are Christians, and sadly, those people close their eyes to their behavior and deny that is the case. That, in itself, is a lie and others see that clearly. Good example: Both the Bush first ladies admitted, after their husbands were no longer in office, that they are "pro-choice," but had to say they were against abortion to get their husbands elected. What a superficial party; it's sickening. Daddy Cruz and his son should pack their bags and get on back to Cuba and quit trying to mess up our country.
His father is right. Go back to Kenya Obama.
Omg... We have free speech .. what about all the bush bashing .. bunch of babys ... This is not the ussr.
Politics of personal destruction? If you take your dad on the campaign trail and he makes hateful comments about the President, son and dad are fair game. There is no personal responsibility among these Tea Party people. What kind of a minister spews this type of hate and then calls it a joke?
I thought that 'jokes' we're supposed to have an element of humor in them. This is just another, in a long line, of Sen, Cruz's positions that I find very strange.
Cruz's father said exactly what he intended and he wasn't "joking." His comment is indicative of the type of skewed thinking interjected into Cruz's upbringing and explains his lack of civility, compassion, and sensitivity towards other humans beings...exactly the way his "Christian" father raised taught him.
You people make me laugh, you act like Obama is a discriminated against minority because he happens to be black. The most powerful man in the world, who took over our banks, auto industry, controls the media, has congress completed nutered, has taken over the medical industry- and all the media can do is complain that, someone made a remark that might make him sensitive. We are beyond to point of no return, this country is gone.
Obama told us that it was "not a Tax" but the the supreme court said "this is a Tax
Obama may have said it because the word "tax" is a political hot potato no matter who says it. What you don't realize the SCOTUS can define whatever the legislation means because they are asked for definition when plaintiff sue in court. I can find tons of legislation that contradicts the actual meaning of the legislation. The biggest problem is how legislation are crafted without a defined meaning leaving it up to the courts to decide what it means.
Then Obama told us that we could keep our insurance if we liked it and that has proved to be false.
True however many of the policy makers knew that many of the bare-bone plans bought in 2010 or prior do not cover hospitialization or major events and needs to be replaced with a plan that would cover it otherwise we, the taxpayer, would cover what the bare bone plan does not cover. The legislation requires insurers to cover the 10 defined parts of coverage.
Is there no limit to the number of lies an American President can tell Americans?
GWB has lied and broke the law as well
Consider that every President and candidates have made sale in response to legislation they advocated. Take Gingrich's and Bachman's promise to lower the price of gas to $2 a gallon but economically, it is impossible to actually carry it out.
Don't you people, attacking cruz, understand – by defending and protecting a tyrant bully, that you actually undermine your own cause, Totalitarian Socialism in order to drain the US of it greatness and divide it out- to the masses. ? Do you think people can't see this?
Rafael should go back or be deported to Cuba.
Ill advised joke of a family.