President Obama’s cousin wants to be the next Ted Cruz

"It's nothing personal," said Milton Wolf, President Obama's second cousin, once removed. But, Obama's actions "are destroying America."

Wolf (Photo via Wolf Campaign)
Wolf (Photo via Wolf Campaign)

And you thought your family had problems.

Wolf is a tea party-aligned conservative running for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, where Obama's mother was born and where Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is trying to win a fourth term. In an interview Monday with Post Politics, he recalled meeting the president for the first time in 2010 at an event in Kansas City.

"I think I'm probably one of the only people on this planet who've actually stood toe to toe with Barack Obama, looked him in the eye and told him that he's wrong," he said.

And how did Obama respond?

"I'll let you ask that of him," Wolf replied.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.

A radiologist and outspoken critic of the federal health-care law -- it will "destroy our health-care system in America," he says -- Wolf is making his first run for office. And he faces a steep uphill climb; a recent poll conducted for the senator's campaign showed Roberts up 54 points.

Wolf is aligning himself with the most conservative element of the Senate. He called Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) "the most effective senators today." A recent radio ad pitches him as the next Cruz. He said he supported the effort to defund Obamacare that Cruz spearheaded. (Many GOP leaders panned the move.) And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Wolf said, "has certainly been disappointing at times."

Wolf is trying to get to Roberts's right on a host of issues. He blasted Roberts for voting to confirm former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) for Heath and Human Services secretary. Roberts meanwhile, called for Sebelius to resign last October.

"Today we know, the problems with the exchanges are systematic, profound and indisputable," Roberts said at the time. "And yet the secretary won’t shoot straight with the American people.

Wolf has found some support from national conservative activists, but he's got a long way to go to become the next Cruz or Paul. The Senate Conservatives Fund is backing him. But the Club For Growth has not jumped in the mix yet. Wolf said he's met with the group and is "optimistic" about winning its support. He declined to say which other conservative groups he's met.

Wolf’s mother and Obama's grandmother were first cousins. He said he didn't learn he was related to the president until around 2008. Wolf's mother was a childhood friend of Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, he said, and she also became friendly with the president later in life. Both moms are deceased.

So whose side would Wolf's mom be on?

"My mom loved her son, but she was proud of Stanley Ann's son," he said.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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