Caught on video: Ted Cruz's father wants to send Obama 'back to Kenya'

In the video of a 2012 speech to Texas tea partyers, Rafael Cruz sounds like a birther – ironic, given that his son, Canadian-born Sen. Ted Cruz, faces potential birtherism if he runs for president.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013.

Mother Jones strikes again. The liberal website that brought us the video of Mitt Romney decrying the “47 percent” has posted a video of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s father saying he’d like to send President Obama “back to Kenya.”

Rafael Cruz, a Dallas-area pastor, made the comment in a speech to the North Texas Tea Party on Sept. 12, 2012, during his son’s successful campaign for the US Senate.

“We have our work cut out for us,” the elder Mr. Cruz says at the 19:25 mark on the video. “We need to send Barack Obama back to Chicago. I’d like to send him back to Kenya, back to Indonesia.”

The comment by the father of a prospective Republican presidential candidate – and one who speaks frequently on his son’s behalf – is laden with irony. It suggests that when it comes to Mr. Obama’s origins, the senior Cruz may be a “birther,” even as his Canadian-born son has had to defend his own eligibility to be president.

Rafael Cruz was born in Cuba, and was still a Cuban citizen when his son was born. Ted Cruz’s American mother, Eleanor Wilson, was born in Delaware. The Cruzes were living in Calgary, Alberta, when Ted was born, and moved to Texas a few years later.

Obama, whose father was Kenyan, was born in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia for four years as a child. He has visited Kenya but never lived there – though the view that Obama was in fact born in Kenya persists on the fringes.

The idea is that Obama’s alleged foreign origin makes him ineligible to be president, though the fact that his mother, Ann Dunham, was American makes Obama’s birthplace largely irrelevant. Someone born to an American citizen anywhere in the world has a claim to American citizenship.

To become president, the Constitution stipulates that one must be a “natural born citizen.” In the eyes of most legal experts, that does not mean one has to have been born on American soil – just to have at least one American parent.  

In August, when Senator Cruz discovered that he was a dual citizen of both the United States and Canada, he announced he would renounce his Canadian citizenship. Billionaire Donald Trump, who made a spectacle of questioning Obama’s citizenship, revealed he was an equal-opportunity birther when he also questioned Cruz’s eligibility for the White House.

Since Aug. 18, when Cruz released his Canadian birth certificate to the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Trump has been silent on the matter.

In response to the post on Mother Jones, Senator Cruz’s office released a statement.

 "These selective quotes, taken out of context, mischaracterize the substance of Pastor Cruz's message,” said Communications Director Sean Rushton. “Like many Americans, he feels America is on the wrong track. Although Pastor Cruz does not speak for the senator, Sen. Cruz sympathizes with the millions of Americans who are frustrated with the job loss and economic stagnation under President Obama's policies, and he is working hard every day to restore jobs and economic growth."

The next question is what role Rafael Cruz will continue to play in his son’s political career – especially if he runs for president. By all appearances, the senator is gearing up for 2016. Despite the assertion that “Pastor Cruz does not speak for the senator,” as Rafael Cruz’s comments garner more attention, it could be hard for Senator Cruz to keep a distance from any controversial views his father espouses.

The Kenya comment was just one of many eyebrow-raising statements by the senior Cruz posted by Mother Jones. In another video, Rafael Cruz tells the tea party of Hood County, Texas, in April that the US is a “Christian nation.”

“The septuagenarian businessman turned evangelical pastor did not choose to use the more inclusive formulation ‘Judeo-Christian nation,’ ” David Corn writes at MotherJones.com.

“Insisting that the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution ‘were signed on the knees of the framers’ and were a ‘divine revelation from God,’ he went on to say, ‘yet our president has the gall to tell us that this is not a Christian nation.…The United States of America was formed to honor the word of God.’ " 

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