Rafael Cruz (CNN Photo)
(CNN) — Comments from last year by the father of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, including a desire to send President Barack Obama “back to Kenya,” are creating a new controversy Thursday.
A story by the left-leaning news organization Mother Jones highlights a series of newly surfaced videos that also feature Rafael Cruz calling the United States “a Christian nation,” urging men to reclaim their place as the “spiritual” head of the household and lambasting the so-called “death panels” that some conservatives claim are in the President’s health care law.
The elder Cruz, a successful businessman turned evangelical pastor, and an immigrant from Cuba, along with his son, has become a hero among many tea party activists and social conservatives.
One of the most explosive statements comes from an April 2012 video, as his son was running for the Senate, and as the President was running for re-election.
“We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago,” Cruz urges. “Back to Kenya.”
The Mother Jones story was quickly picked up by a number of progressive blogs and websites.
The younger Cruz has long cited his father in speaking engagements, highlighting the elder’s story of leaving Cuba in 1957 not knowing a word of English, only to work his way up from busboy, put himself through college and raise a family. Rafael Cruz helped his son on the campaign trail and at various conservative events since Ted Cruz won his Senate seat last November. Right after that victory, Ted Cruz praised his father, saying that he “has spent virtually every day the past year crisscrossing this state, telling his story and speaking on his son’s behalf. My dad is my hero, he has been my entire life.”
In the April 2012 video, Rafael Cruz speaks of the need to restore the conservative majority to the Senate in order to block liberal nominees to the Supreme Court. The presidency was an even more crucial vote.
“If we do not take this country back in this election, there’s a very strong possibility that this country will be destroyed by Barack Obama in the next four years,” he said.
Ted Cruz vaulted to national attention in the run-up to the partial government shutdown, a crisis he helped precipitate by ring leading the push by conservative lawmakers to tie defunding Obamacare to a government funding bill. That drive by conservative lawmakers, and the pushback by congressional Democrats and the White House, led to the 16-day partial federal government shutdown.
Cruz’s new prominence among conservatives and his unapologetic antagonism to Senate moderates in his party, along with numerous visits already this year to Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, have fueled speculation that the Texas Republican is considering a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
A spokeswoman for Cruz Thursday declined CNN’s offer to respond to the controversial comments made by the Senator’s father.
Instead Cruz’s office pointed to the statement 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.
But Rushton added that, “Pastor Cruz does not speak for the Senator.”