Obama's Ted Cruz Communist Joke Highlights Senator's Latino Roots

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committe
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Twice burned, Republicans are treading carefully around tea party groups as they pursue a Senate majority that slipped through their fingers in 2010 and 2012. "You'd have to be an idiot not to prepare" for primary challenges, says one past director of the Republicans' Senate campaign committee. Strongly conservative candidates have captured primaries in the past two election cycles, only to lose winnable races in the fall. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

With all these new faces, it’s hard to keep track of who is in, who is out. And I know it’s difficult for you guys as reporters. But I can offer you an easy way of remembering the new team. If Ted Cruz calls somebody a communist, then you know they’re in my cabinet.

The joke was aimed at the grilling Cruz gave Obama’s secretary of defense nomination Chuck Hagel, along with Cruz’s disputed comment that there were 12 Communists on the faculty of Harvard Law when he and Obama studied there. But it was telling that Obama chose those words to make his dig at a politician who saw the authenticity of his Hispanic roots questioned repeatedly along the campaign trail.

Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother, and he identifies as Hispanic. With pale white skin and a southern drawl, he’s an easy target for those who would question his Latinidad. His far-right politics and affinity with the Tea Party don’t do much do boost his Tejano credentials either.

His last name may be Cruz, but there is nothing, not an ounce, about the way he thinks and the way he has led his life that in any way is similar to Hispanics in the state of Texas and all across America… Ted Cruz is as much Hispanic… as Tom Cruise.

Cruz’s attitudes may not seem all that Latino in the Southwest, where the typical Latino is a Mexican American who tends to vote Democratic.

But Cruz’s worldview is quite common among Cuban-Americans in Miami, where a generation of political opponents to Communist leader Fidel Castro made their home, beginning in the 1960s. Marco Rubio, not too far away from Cruz on the ideological spectrum, hasn’t faced similar questioning of his roots -- perhaps because he speaks fluent Spanish and has more vowels in his name?

What do you think of Ted Cruz's Hispanic roots? Let us know in the poll below and in the comments.



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