Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has a daddy problem.
Rafael Cruz, the senator’s father, is an evangelical pastor whose colorful and often offensive rhetoric could be a liability in any campaign for the White House in 2016.
In February, Pastor Cruz told a group of Tea Partiers that black voters are “uninformed” and “deceived.” And then he went on to say, “As a matter of fact, if we could communicate the truth, not only to the Hispanics but to the black population, all blacks should be Republican,” Pastor Cruz said.
Pastor Cruz also claimed that “all of the civil rights” that black people have achieved is the result of Republicans. “Let’s talk about the black population. All the civil rights that the African-Americans have obtained have come from Republicans,” Cruz told a group of his fellow Tea Partiers. “But you know what, Democrats took the credit.”
Senator Ted Cruz has his eye on the White House in 2016, but having his father making public statements that offend black voters isn’t exactly the way to win a general election. Senator Cruz’s father will repel voters of color and demographic shifts makes winning a general election without black and latino voters nearly impossible.
Pastor Cruz saying that President Obama should “go back to Kenya” is not going to win any of those key voting blocs and it’s only a matter of time before Republicans begin to realize that their re-branding effort to win minority voters is failing miserably.
Senator Ted Cruz’s dad could be his Reverend Jeremiah Wright. During the 2008 election cycle, Pastor Jeremiah Wright became the focus of sensational media coverage dissecting his archive of sermons. A portion of Reverend Wright’s now-famous sermon was played in a loop for weeks where he said, “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”
President Obama struggled to distance himself from Reverend Wright and eventually openly condemned some of his more out-of-the-mainstream comments. Wright was a liability for President Obama and it likely didn’t cost him on election day because he publicly cut ties.
Senator Ted Cruz will not need to openly condemn his father for any of his outrageous comments to win a Republican primary. He will need to appeal to mainstream voters to win a general election though, and they won’t take kindly to anyone whose father says the nation’s first black president should “go back to Kenya.”
In 2012, Mitt Romney learned the hard way that saying “self-deportation” to appeal to the Tea Party base of the Republican party during the primary will turn off the key groups you need to win in the general election.
Until Republicans, including Ted Cruz, are courageous enough to condemn offensive and racially insensitive rhetoric, they will have trouble with the groups of voters they need to win. The death of immigration reform confirms the point that the Republican party is not yet ready to face the fact that the emerging majority of brown voters will keep them out of the White House until they stand up to the Tea Party base.
Maybe Senator Ted Cruz will be the first to have the guts.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.