“Flyin ‘” Ted Cruz landed.
Cruz, the Republican senator from Texas, sparked outrage Thursday for flying from Houston to Cancun, Mexico for a family vacation even as millions of his fellow Texans froze due to a massive winter storm and widespread power outages.
Thousands of Twitter messages blasted Cruz for the untimely getaway after photos of him circulated online at a Houston airport and then aboard a plane Wednesday afternoon.
The Texas Democratic Party, among others, demanded that Cruz resign from the Senate.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) transports his luggage to Cancun International Airport before boarding his plane for the United States in Cancun, Mexico on February 18, 2021.
Limon | Reuters
After hours when the senator’s staff refused to confirm his whereabouts, Cruz finally managed to find himself in Cancun, where the temperatures were in the mid-80s. He then told reporters that he had “doubts. “on his departure from the state as he sat on the plane in Houston on Wednesday.
He said his two daughters, aged 12 and 10, asked him and his wife to take them to Mexico after the Cruz family themselves lost electricity.
Images allegedly showing Ted Cruz aboard a United Airlines flight to Cancun, Mexico from Houston, Texas.
Source: @Ian McBride via Twitter
“It was obviously a mistake and looking back, I wouldn’t have done it,” Cruz told reporters after returning alone from Cancun to Houston, where temperatures were just above zero.
“I was trying to be a dad.”
Cruz also said, “Of course I understand why people are upset.”
“Look, we’re in a weird time where Twitter has gone crazy and the media is going crazy and there’s a lot of venom and vitriol which I think is sadly frankly on both sides, I think everyone should treat each other. with respect and decency and try to understand each other more particularly in times of crisis, “he added.
Cruz stated that his “original plan was to stay the weekend with the family”.
He said the past year had been difficult for his children, as it had been for other Americans, and it got worse earlier in the week when the family lost electricity after opening their house to friends who had previously lost electricity in their own home.
“The power was cut as soon as we sat down for dinner,” he said.
“On the second day, we were gathered around the fireplace as the only source of heat,” said Cruz.
His daughters ended up asking: “How about we go on a trip? Let’s go somewhere where it’s not that cold,” said Cruz.
“We were trying to be good parents,” he added.
Cruz said: “I started to have doubts” about the trip “almost when I sat on the plane”.
“Because on the one hand, all of us who are parents have a responsibility to take care of our children, to take care of our families, this is something Texans have done statewide,” said Cruz. .
But I also have the responsibility that I take very seriously to fight for the State of Texas. And, frankly, leaving when so many Texans were in pain didn’t feel right. And so I changed my flight home, and took the plane for the first available flight. ”
Cruz said, “It was my intention to be able to work remotely to be on the phone to be on the internet to zoom in to be engaged, but I needed to be here.”
“And that’s why I came back, and then as it became a bigger and bigger firestorm… it became all the more convincing that I needed to come back because our priority should be to solve this problem, ”he said.
“And I didn’t want all the yelling and screaming about this trip to distract even a moment from the real issues.”
Cruz declared that he “would continue to work to restore the power”.
“What is happening in Texas is unacceptable and a lot of Texans are suffering,” said Cruz.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to media at Cancun International Airport before boarding his flight to the United States, in Cancun, Mexico, February 18, 2021.
Limon | Reuters
Cruz arrived at the Cancun airport to leave on Thursday with a man wearing a polo shirt which indicated that he was an employee of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Cancun.
This man was accompanying Cruz while he was heading towards his boarding gate.
The Ritz-Carlton’s website notes that this is “a five-star oceanfront retreat in the heart of Cancun.”
“Perfectly located on the Yucatan Peninsula, the Ritz-Carlton, Cancun seamlessly merges coastal luxury with the region’s rich cultural heritage,” the site says.
“Immerse yourself in sensory experiences ranging from cooking classes to poolside mixology classes. This five-star hotel also offers famous restaurants, native spa rituals, and a 27,000 square foot conference center.”
“Sunbathe on the best beach in Mexico,” the site says. Rooms for four at the hotel cost at least $ 410 per night, according to its reservation system.
Ritz Carlton Hotel, Cancun
Peter Bischoff | Getty Images
Two days before the trip, Cruz retweeted a message from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that read: “Looking for a place to stay warm during this freezing cold?” The post contained links to warming centers in Texas.
A source close to Cruz said the senator, in accordance with federal health guidelines, made a decision Covid-19 test and received a negative result before his scheduled flight to the United States.
In a statement before leaving home, Cruz said, “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local officials to shed light on what happened in Texas.”
“We want to get our electricity, water and homes warm. My team and I will continue to use all of our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”
Images allegedly showing Ted Cruz with Heidi Cruz (circled) aboard a United Airlines flight to Cancun, Mexico from Houston, Texas.
Source: @Ian McBride via Twitter
A spokesperson for the Houston Police Department told NBC News that Cruz’s staff asked the department on Wednesday afternoon to assist Cruz with his arrival and his travels through the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, where there is had a scheduled flight at 4:44 pm local time to Cancun.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the mask seen on the Senator that day was the same as the one that Cruz wore during the inauguration of the president last month Joe biden, and in the Senate impeachment trial last week against the former president Donald trump.
The mask has the image of a black cannon and the words “‘Come and take it,’ a design reminiscent of flags used by Texans in the 1835 revolution against Mexico – a provocative choice, given the destination, ”the newspaper notes.
The Texas Democratic Party blasted Cruz in a statement demanding that he resign from his seat or be expelled from the Senate.
“In the midst of one of the worst crises in Texas history, Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico. His voters in Texas remain trapped in the cold, without clean water, without heating nor hot food. 37 of them died, ”the party said in a statement.
“This is what we expect from the Republican leaders in Texas. They are selfish, inept and corrupt politicians who believe that being in power allows them to do what they want.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki sharply criticized Cruz when she was asked about her trip by reporters at a press conference.
“I have no update on the exact location of Senator Ted Cruz, nor anyone in the White House, but our goal is to work directly with leaders in Texas and surrounding states to deal with the winter storm and to the crisis at hand, ”Psaki said.
“We expect this to be the goal of anyone from the state or surrounding states who has been elected to represent them,” she added.
Former Representative Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who lost a tight senatorial election to Cruz in 2018, during an interview Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, noted that Cruz “is on vacation in Cancun right now as people are literally freezing to death in the state he was elected to represent and serve. “.
Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio who served as secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, tweeted: “In crises like these, members of Congress play a vital role in connecting their constituents to services emergency and assistance. ”
Cruz “should be on the phone with federal agencies, not traveling to Mexico,” Castro wrote.
On Tuesday, just a day before flying to Mexico, Cruz was toasted on Twitter and elsewhere for making fun of California’s own blackouts months ago.
In response, Cruz tweeted that day, “I have no defense. A blizzard hits Texas and our state is shutting down. Not good.”
In December, Cruz criticized Democratic officials who did not follow their own Coronavirus pandemic restrictions, including Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, Texas, who himself traveled to Mexico for his daughter’s wedding in November even as he urged residents of his town to stay home.
“Hypocrites. Complete and absolute hypocrites,” Cruz wrote in his December 2 tweet.
In July, photos showing Cruz without a mask on an American Airlines flight and at an airport gate have been widely reported.
The person who took the photos, who worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, noted that American Airlines policy required travelers to wear face coverings.
Cruz’s spokesperson said at the time that Cruz had temporarily removed his mask to drink coffee.
Trump, as he ran against Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential elections, regularly used the contemptuous nickname “Lyin ‘Ted” when talking about him.
Cruz later became a strong supporter of Trump, and last month unsuccessfully tried to get Congress to reject confirmation of Biden Electoral College’s victories in several states.
This confirmation process was interrupted on January 6 by the invasion of the Capitol complex by thousands of Trump supporters. Five people, including a Capitol police station, died as a result of the riot.
– CNBC Kevin breuninger contributed to this report.