When Sen. Ted Cruz began his first speech as a presidential candidate on Monday, he talked about his father.
The story of Rafael Cruz — growing up in Cuba, joining a revolution to overthrow Batista at age 17, jailed and tortured, and fleeing to the United States — has been an integral part of the Texas senator's political story.
But don't take it from Ted: Rafael is also out on the stump, telling his own story. Since his son's election and rise as a conservative star, the elder Cruz has become a popular and prolific Tea Party speaker around the country. His life story is compelling, and it doesn't end once he left Cuba — a straight A student, he got accepted to the University of Texas-Austin and after a family friend bribed an official to stamp his passport, made his way by ferry to Key West. There he boarded a bus for Texas where he says he learned English by repeatedly watching movies and paid his way through school working as dishwasher. His life was turned around when he found his faith in the Lord.
But at the grassroots events featuring Rafael Cruz, he often makes news in a different kind of way. "Pastor Cruz does not speak for the senator," statements from his son's office frequently note, when one controversial statement or another surfaces.
Rafael Cruz would like to send Obama "back to Kenya, back to Indonesia," he said at one gathering. Obama, "probably doesn't have any problem with what this butcher in Philadelphia is doing," he said of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell who killed babies born alive. The "average black" doesn't understand why the minimum wage is bad, he said at another.
A BuzzFeed News review of Cruz's speeches finds him often making controversial, conspiracy-based claims about the Obama administration, many of which are listed below.
1. Cruz has said Fidel Castro used the rhetoric of "hope and change."
2. Cruz has argued the Obama administration efforts for gun control are so "they can impose a dictatorship upon us." Cruz argued Obama is trying to ban guns through the United Nations.
3. Cruz says the Obama administration is "trying to undermine our sovereignty" with the "Law of the Sea Treaty" to redistribute "wealth on a global basis." He adds, "It’s way beyond what any Communist country has ever done before."
4. Cruz says LGBT people being called "gays" is a conspiracy to make it socially acceptable because "gay means happy!"
5. Cruz said President Obama's "agenda is to bring us down to a third-world country" and wants a "redistribution of wealth on a global basis."
6. Cruz said Obama's first act when inaugurated "was to rescind that ban on third-trimester abortions" and has made it so even babies born alive can be killed.
7. Cruz says death panels are a real part of Obamacare and that a panel of bureaucrats will tell you to "go home and die" if it is too expensive to save you.
8. Cruz says the UN is trying "to restrict parental rights," and that the U.S. is ready to agree.
9. Cruz says political correctness kept John McCain from saying that Obama is a Muslim.
10. Cruz says that "perhaps we ought to send" people who "go around bashing this country ... to some place that is out of this country."
11. Cruz repeats a narrative of America's founding that includes the debunked claim that the Pilgrims "decided to try a communist experiment."
12. Cruz says "the Obama administration has both their hands in your pocket ... trying to take every hard dollar you make to give it out in handouts to buy votes."
13. Other times, Cruz says Obama himself "has got both hands in your pockets."
14. Cruz says that the absence of God from atheist and secular humanist worldviews "leads to immorality ... [and] sexual abuse."
15. Cruz says that the reason the Supreme Court overturned part of DOMA is that "the only people picketing in front of the Supreme Court were the homosexuals."
16. Cruz says that "the liberal media" serves as the Obama administration's communist-style "Ministry of Misinformation."
17. Cruz says that a 19th-century sermon about a world where "Satan rules in the halls of legislation" actually "looks like we're reading this week's newspaper."
18. Cruz says that "blacks ... need to understand that this administration has not done anything for black people," and that the administration uses minorities "as pawns."
19. Cruz says the book of Genesis "speaks very clearly" about gay marriage: "It was Adam and Eve, it was not Adam and Steve."
20. Cruz says "political correctness is a cancer."
21. Cruz says that moral relativism "leads us to sexual immorality, leads us to sexual abuse, leads us to perversion, and of course, no hope."
22. Cruz says that "our president was brainwashed for 18 years" by Jeremiah Wright's preaching of "a perversion ... called liberation theology."
23. Cruz says that Obama "is a tyrant ... who wants to rule us not different than King George was ruling" before the American Revolution.
24. Cruz says that he is sure that Obama "reluctantly" signed a bill (championed by Ted) that made it illegal "for a known terrorist to come to the United States as an ambassador."
25. Cruz says that Obama talks about "freedom of worship" instead of "freedom of religion" because he is trying "to eradicate religion, outside the four walls of the church."
26. Cruz says that the Eric Holder wants to put GPS systems in all guns as the first step toward "confiscation," and warns that "every tyrant has taken the guns away and then used them against the people."
27. Cruz says that cap-and-trade legislation was part of Obama's "very clear agenda" to "make us a third-world country."
28. Cruz says "the tentacles of communism have been infiltrated all across this land," that "it was very, very clear" in 2008 that Obama "was a socialist," and calls Michelle Obama a "master of manipulation" who leaves listeners "mesmerized."
29. Cruz says that Obama leaves the words "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance because he "is a man who seeks to destroy all concept of God," in accordance with "classical Marxist philosophy."
30. Cruz says that he'd "like to send" Obama "back to Kenya, back to Indonesia," because he promotes "Agenda 21" and the Law of the Sea Treaty, which are actually covert plans to "give our resources to the United Nations."
31. Before the 2012 election, Cruz warned that if the Republicans did not win, "there’s a very strong possibility this country will be destroyed by Barack Obama in the next four years."
32. Cruz says that Obama's "attack against religion" is really an "attack against Christianity," because kids are sent home from school for wearing Jesus t-shirts, but not for wearing turbans.
33. Cruz says "people of Hispanic descent ... should all be Republicans," but "[t]hey have been brainwashed by La Raza, who is a Marxist organization, and LULAC, which is an arm of the Democratic Party."
34. Cruz says that "a group of sexual deviants in this country, which compose maybe 2 to 3% of the population" are "driving the political agenda in this country."
35. Cruz says that in the absence of faith in God, government creates "a new class of dependency" which "inexorably leads to socialism" and "a tyrannical government controlling every aspect of your life" — and that this is "occurring before our very eyes."
36. Cruz says that “the Greens of today are the Reds of the last generation,” and that "the whole environmental movement is nothing more than just an insidious thing to destroy this country.”
37. Cruz says that "if there are two entities of the federal government that have done more harm to destroy America, to destroy our economy, it is the EPA and the Endangered Species Act."
38. Cruz tells parents to "do what you can to get your kids out of public school," because they're being given "a brainwashing no different than what has happened in the Marxist countries for generations."
39. Cruz says that "government legislates morality all the time," but "if it is the wicked that are governing, what they are legislating is their immorality."
40. Cruz says that he's hea"1 out of every 4 men in the church are involved in pornography," and that the great majority of sexual assaults were perpetrated by people that were looking at pornography and they wanted to make a reality what they were seeing..."
41. Cruz says Obama refused to call the Boston Marathon bomber a terrorist because of political correctness — and that the media refused to cover the trial of Kermit Gosnell, "the biggest mass murderer" in American history, for similar reasons.
42. Cruz says that the "fact" that the first bill Obama signed was to "legalize third-trimester abortions" means "he probably doesn’t have any problem with what this butcher in Philadelphia has been doing."
43. Cruz says that black people and Latinos vote Democratic because they are "low-information voters" whom Republicans "have to educate."
44. Cruz says that "bilingual education" programs for non-native English speakers leaves children "doomed to be second-class citizens."
45. Cruz says that "homosexual marriage" is "really more about the destruction of the traditional family than about exalting homosexuality, because you need to destroy also loyalty to the family” in order to make people wholly dependent on government.
46. Cruz says that "the average black" does not understand "how all the handouts to blacks have kept blacks ... in the poorhouse."
47. Cruz says that "there's nothing scientific about evolution," but "evolution is one of the strongest tools of Marxism, because if they can convince you that you came from a monkey, it’s much easier to convince you that God does not exist."
48. Cruz says that "all of this anti-Christian rhetoric that you see coming from the government" is part of "an effort to make you realize that God is your government."
49. Cruz says that "Agenda 21 is all about confiscation of private property. And it’s insidious, and it’s permeating all of America."
50. Cruz says that "when [Obama] says, ‘I have a pen and a phone; these are the rules,’ ... he’s got a billy club in his hand, and people are like sheep going to the slaughter.”
51. Cruz says that the Obama administration "wants to promote the concept of 'hyphenated Americans,'" because it is trying to "create a vast dependent society upon government" which it thinks will also be "a permanent voting base to maintain them in power.
52. Cruz says that Obama's desire to raise taxes on those making over $250,000 a year is "not much different" from when "the Castro government began confiscating all" the property of the Cuban middle class.
53. Cruz says it "is true" that Latinos and blacks have been "uninformed, or deceived" into voting for Democrats and they only vote for Democrats because their parents did.
54. Cruz says that the "end-of-life" counseling provisions in Obamacare are actually about providing the elderly with "suicide counseling."
55. Cruz says that the government "created a drought in Southern California" to protect a "little minnow," because "Agenda 21 is all about ... the worship of Mother Earth."
56. Cruz says that "Obamacare is all about ... controlling our lives, controlling one-fifth of the economy, and controlling every bit of your life."
57. Cruz says that "the death panels are in Obamacare" — and that because "this panel will be independent of Congress, independent of the president — it will become a dictatorship within a dictatorship."
58. Cruz says that "what’s happened in this country, with this concept of all these hand-outs, and just trying to really buy votes ... lowers everybody to a lowest common denominator," and that "Obama has taken it way beyond what Castro did."
59. Cruz says that if 55 million abortions had not taken place in America, "we would not have any debt."
60. Cruz says that "the only Hispanics that are in favor of amnesty are the illegals."
61. Cruz says that the title of her book proves that Hillary Clinton believes that "your children are not your children," and that "that culture of dependency leads to a life of slavery, being totally dependent upon government."
62. Cruz says an ordinance protecting LGBT rights passed by the city council in Houston will men on high school football teams to force girls to shower with them and if they refuse they can be sued.
63. Cruz suggests prayer being taken out of school is responsible for the rise in teen pregnancy and violent crime.
64. Cruz says Obama has "a totalitarian view of government being all-powerful" and wants to destroy American exceptionalism.
65. Cruz says "the EPA is controlling almost every aspect of our lives" and if the left had their "they would do away with the whole Bill of Rights."
67. Cruz says Latinos and blacks only vote Democratic because it's tradition, "instead of according to their values and what is in their best interest."
68. Cruz says people become slaves to government "through taxation, through regulation, through all kinds of restrictions, that makes us not free anymore.”
Ilan Ben-Meir is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ilan Ben-Meir at email@example.com.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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Megan Apper is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Megan Apper at email@example.com.
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