The Washington Post

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.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Quoted
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.