(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.
His nasty comment was nothing but playing the politics of personal destruction. Who does this dolt think hes kidding? This was no joke and they both know it. Where ever his dad ministers, they need to start paying taxes. Either that, or he should just STFU. He needs to go back to Cuba. Canada probably doesnt want him either. A man without a country.
what an idiot, like father, like son...
Seems as though Obama's minister/"father-figure" can tell Americans to rot in h*&% and that is basically ok. This on the other hand is a crime against humanity. Liberals are such hypocrites!
Is Ted Cruz not smart enough to understand how things go? Why instead of apologising himself, call his own father to apologise personally. He talked all these nonsense himself, on the absence of his son, he must clear all the mess he did and not the son. Contrary to that and continuing holding his prestige, will cost his son so heavily. Ted, you are going to carry this heavy baggage all way through to wherever it will take you, if you are not aware of it.
Yet, Ted Cruz and the Teatards lie again. He knew it wasn't a joke. He knew it was stupid considering him nor his father were born in America. What's sad is these fools have followers because the pouts is black but they will swear it has nothing to do with racism..
So he says, "politics of personal destruction are trying to smear him and use that to attack me. That's a shame." He's the king of the politics of destruction against the president. That's the real shame.
"...and 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."
"He is a pastor. He is a man of deep integrity. And he made a joke."
Really, Ted. His comments were outrageous, and speak to a lack of integrity. Characterizing them as a joke is a pathetic attempt at deflecting.
As for people using his comments to smear you ... you've damaged your reputation far more effectively than your father has.
The real "ill advised joke" is Ted Cruz himself - the Tea Party's latest Clown Prince.
"drawing criticism from liberals," eh? I guess this would be similar to me making "a joke" about Sen. Cruz's wetback dad...surely only tea party wingnut types would be offended, right?
You guys do realize that conservatives have already written you off as the "lamestream media," right?
So why are you moving towards the editorial style of Fox News?
I agree with the old man.
That was no joke. The Cruz family are racists and fascists.
So now his father is not only a bigot but a Pastor and the hateful words are supposed to be less hateful or easier to forgive.
How asinine. Let me get this straight. Cruz's father uses a well known dog-whistle attack on the president's legitimacy that has been batted around by the tea party since before Obama was elected, and when he's called out on it, Cruz is somehow the victim of the "politics of personal destruction." Typical tea party tactic of denying responsibility for anything they do. When they shut down the government, it's someone else's fault. When they get called out for plagiarism, it's the fault of the accusers. When they make a "joke" and are called out on it, it's an attack on them personally. Complete, utter garbage.
Send Cruz back to Canada, back to Cuba!
Funny how the left can make political screw ups and be forgiven, but the right can not. The right can never apologize enough and will never be forgiven. ANd how the media can "see into their heart" to know someone's apology is heartfelt and sincere!! Amazing traits the progressives have.
the cruz's are idiots
it was a joke. Yeah, right I am sure it was..lol . Can't he come up with a better excuse than that.
The GOP has a funny sense of humor. They say the same "joke" over and over and seem surprised each time that no one but them finds it amusing.
Seriously, he calls that very bigoted remark a "joke"??? That's a Texas politician (and the people who vote them in) for you. Scary!
His father has no one to blame but himself
"It was an ill-advised joke"..........
Yes, it was ill-advised, but not a joke. He meant it. I suppose his comment that suggested his "son was among
the evangelical Christians who are anointed as kings to take control of all sectors of society" is also an
You can fool some of the people, some of the time, but...................."
Senator Cruz, you put your father out there, and he has taken his position seriously. Your contention that
criticism of his remarks was "motivated by politics as much as by outrage" is ludicrous.
You shut down the government and cost the American taxpayer $24B, motivated by your own political
So, it's good that you love your Daddy, but you are using him to strenghten your own standing
with the Tea Party, the ones who got you elected.
We are on to you. You have disappointed many Texans, so either stand by your own and your Dad's
comments, or don't say what you pretend to not mean.
Yeah, it's sad that people are trying to make you look like the bad guy here, Cruz. You're really a victim...
I really hope you get sarcasm.
You don't need context to know "Send him back to Kenya" is racist...
"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."
When your daddy publicly says we should send the darkies back to Africa, it's time to stop blaming the critics and put daddy out to pasture, carefully locked away from cameras, microphones, and anything sharp.