POLITICS
10/23/2013 05:33 pm ET Updated Oct 24, 2013

Ted Cruz's 'Nigerian Email Scammers' Joke Offends Texas Nigerian Community

Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) recent joke comparing those running the Obamacare website to Nigerian email scammers has drawn criticism from Houston's Nigerian community, according to local ABC affiliate KTRK.

"Have you all noticed, you know the Nigerian email scammers?" Cruz asked the crowd at a Houston rally on Monday, KTRK Houston reported. "They've been a lot less active lately, because they've all been hired to run the Obamacare websites."

Cruz's spokesperson told KTRK the senator was just making a joke based on a common email scam and meant no offense. But the Nigerian community wasn't laughing.

The Rev. Felix Awotula, pastor at Redeemed Christian Church of God, told KTRK that he received phone calls about the comment throughout the day.

"I'm not too sure of the motive behind that. But anyway, the statement has been made, and it has a devastating effect in the mind of Nigerians because we don't want to identify the country with anything negative," Awotula said to KTRK. "I'm not saying all Nigerians are perfect."

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) criticized Cruz's comment.

“Jokes about Nigerian scammers, you know, I wonder how much off the cuff that really was, and how calculated it was to appeal to Sen. Cruz’s base, many of whom believe that the president is from Africa,” Cartwright said on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" Tuesday.

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