(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.
Can we all just get along?
There is NO reason for outrage, or claims of racism, here, IF you remember that Obama Sr. was born in Kenya! It's that simple!
Also, though Barrack only saw Obama Sr. for less than a week in his lifetime, he had a book written about HIM, so it's certainly reasonable to suggest that he has pride in his father's roots, which are in Kenya, where his father died as a result of his repeated drunk driving!
It seems that liberals get to feign outrage, and the liberal media picks it up, when the facts don't warrant it and shouldn't allow it! Reality is what it is!
Why don't all the Cruz family go back to Cuba?
The nut doesn't fall far from the tree.
Rafael Cruz did make a joke. He named him "Ted".
It's pretty obvious from the video that Rafael Cruz wasn't joking. That said, I don't think Ted Cruz should be held accountable for something his father said.
A Joke? Really? A heinous joke like that from a pastor!! He should resign from his position at the church, become a comic and then make a joke like that.
Better yet why not the crzes set an example, go back to Cuba and then ask other people to go back to their ancestral lands.
His father is not a man of integrity–his father is a p.o.s. just like the boy
Did we expect anything else from Ted Cruz? Go back and watch all of his campaign ads. All of the, centered around one thing and one thing only....repealing ObamaCare. When you fail at the only thing you stand for, you're going to have to stir up controversy to stay relevant.
Senior Cruz's national anthem is:
Row row row your boat...
Perhaps he should row his way back to Cuba.
And Senator Cruz's hipocrazy that his daddy is being attacked, people in glass houses should not throw stones!!!
Racist Cruz Jr & Sr. both need to go back to Cuba.
@Kenman ... President Obama taking pride in hi sfather, whether he was in Kenya, or where has absolutely NOTHING to do with the point of this subject. Since apparently, as most conservative, republican, tea partiers, don't get it, AND more properly don't want to get the truth, let me explain it. The point here is about the perpetuation of a LIE, that Tea Party wackos continue to push, and what's even more ridiculous is him telling the President to go back to Kenya, when his own son is NOT a natural born American, he, the father, is a Cuban who wasn't a citizen at the time either, hence why Ted was born in Canada .... so you folks go ahead and put Cruz on the ticket as your candidate, and he'll get crushed by the Democratic candidate
Oh, it's a joke. Gee, I didn't get that. Republicans always say something in incredible bad taste and racist is a joke.
This is what i always say that Pastors and priests are human. But then, if you are a PASTOR, everything that comes out of your mouth SHOULD be godly? Right? Racism and discrimination on his part is definitely NOT godly and that disqualifies him from being a pastor. I always doubt Pastors all my life especially when they act like they cannot commit any biblical transgressions.
I quite agree with Ted Cruz. Forty Two years ago his father did in deed make a joke, his son. Unfortunately that joke has only recently been unleashed on this country, but except for the buffoonery, there is very little funny about Ted Cruz. Some joke Pastor Cruz.
I don't understand. America welcomed this family with open arms and gave them the opportunity to live in a free society. Yet they have absolutely no respect for America at all. Old Man Cruz and his seditionist son, Rafael, should try and live in a totalitarian society and see what happens firsthand when they try and pull off the stunts they do in America. They'd be shoveling snow in Siberia so fast their heads would spin. It's like they say: Grifters Gotta Grift.
his father is a pastor, huh? then it's not surprising he would be a hateful racist.
The problem isn't that a joke was made. The problem is that he and everyone who laughed along with him thought it was funny. And the deeper problem is that the country, or certain portions of it, is run by these people who find it funny.
I was born in Mexico and became an American in 2000
I don't go around telling everyone "I'm Mexican"
Arnold "Governator" Scwartzenegger does not go around saying he is not an American
Like He said and I quote "I'm Cuban"
when asked about some type of food earlier last week
Well if he is "A pastor and a man of deep integrity", he should know better. In this Country you can't make jokes or comments of that nature, to the president or any person in general. And that applies to the indigent in the street and the father of Ted Cruz. Who do these people think they are to ask for respect when they can't respect others? I don't know it makes me think that the saying: "Like father, like son" fits here perfectly. It also makes me understand from where the poor behaviors of the son are coming from.
Looking through these comments, I have to say that I love the smell of bigotry from the Regressives in the morning. But I guess closet racists are just par for the course coming from the party of slavery, the KKK, and Jim Crow.
He is a Pastor? like as if that should make him a moral man. Now a days people associate religion and pastors with vile hate. That is what these people of god have done to religion. People are so turned off by it that they now consider themselves as agnostic or Atheist.
It's a good thing Cruz can't be President – he's not 'native born'! Damn, where's Ted Turner when you need him?
Why his father doesn't "make a joke" about the clown that his own son is?
Sick and tired of this Ted Cruz....
We have seen this movie before with Sarah Palin trashing the government to get free publicity for herself!!!