Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been the target of attacks from several directions since photos surfaced Wednesday of him boarding a plane to Cancun, Mexico, while his state was experiencing mass power outages and water shortages amid severe winter weather.
Cruz admitted in an interview with a local outlet Thursday upon his return that the move “was a mistake” and said he had intended to take his family, including his two young daughters, 10 and 12, “somewhere warm” as his home was one of the four million that lost power, as well as one of the many to be left without heat and water.
Cruz, along with Texas senior Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), on Sunday called on President Joe Biden to respond to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) request to declare an emergency disaster in the state and open the state to federal assistance, which Biden granted. Power in Texas, which operates from a state grid, was mostly restored as of Friday, but more than 14 million homes remained under boil-water notices, i.e., without safe drinking water, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“Look, in hindsight, if I had understood how it would be perceived, the reaction people would have, obviously I wouldn’t have done it. It was a mistake,” Cruz told local outlet ABC 13, adding that he experienced second thoughts when he boarded the plane.
“As a leader, you need to be here, and you need to be here when Texans were hurting, and that’s why I didn’t feel good about it even as we were heading out,” he continued. “I knew why we said yes, but I was thinking it was a mistake almost from the outset, and then as I saw the firestorm that erupted that made it even more clear that I needed to be here.”
The “firestorm” included criticism pouring in on social media from many left-wing politicians and commenters as the news of Cruz’s trip circulated.
Perhaps his most vocal critic in Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who called for Cruz’s resignation after he led an effort to create a commission to investigate allegations of voter fraud that were prevalent following the 2020 election, commented that Cruz “could’ve taken his vacation in peace” had he acquiesced to her resignation demand:
If Sen. Cruz had resigned back in January after helping gin up a violent insurrection that killed several people, he could’ve taken his vacation in peace. Texans should continue to demand his resignation.
But don’t blame me for this, my points are on Amtrak! 🚊 https://t.co/CAWCgtxQ73
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 18, 2021
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) remarked on there being an “extraordinary” “level of disdain” from Cruz for his constituents:
The level of disdain for his constituents by Cancun Ted is extraordinary.
— Hakeem Jeffries (@hakeemjeffries) February 18, 2021
Jeffries also sent out a fundraising email focusing on the incident, insisting Cruz resign and falsely accusing the Texas Republican of “defending Donald Trump’s attacks on our democratic elections” and “abandoning his state while it goes through a deadly weather emergency”:
Hakeem Jeffries, in fundraising email, demands Ted Cruz resign.
"Whether it's defending Donald Trump’s attacks on our democratic elections or abandoning his state while it goes through a deadly weather emergency, Cruz has proven time and again that he’s a coward. He must resign" pic.twitter.com/c3OgKLL6dF
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) February 19, 2021
Contrary to Jeffries’ claims, Cruz in an interview in January called Trump’s election rhetoric “irresponsible and reckless.” Cruz also explained once he returned from Mexico that Texas’s utility operations occur at the state level and not the federal level, at which he works, and that he is able to remain “engaged” and conduct his senatorial duties remotely.
Others lashing out at Cruz included:
God it would be awkward if Ted Cruz supported “Building The Wall” as he quickly migrated to Mexico for refuge from a deadly storm in his state where he is supposed to be the fucking leader… pic.twitter.com/IWeJacnIEo
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) February 18, 2021
Is Ted Cruz actually going to get away with abandoning his constituents in the middle of a crisis, lying about it, and blaming it on his kids?
— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) February 19, 2021
What was so disturbing about Ted Cruz leaving his constituents to freeze to death while he escaped to a luxury resort is that he revealed who he really is and how our government is full of self-serving actors who don't care if we live or die.https://t.co/qQt9pVnrOT
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) February 19, 2021
Ted Cruz is up for reelection in 2024. The American electorate can have a notoriously short attention span, but is it too much to hope that insurrection + checking out for Cancun & lying about it as Texans faced a catastrophic situation might have some lingering effect?
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) February 19, 2021
— Al Franken (@alfranken) February 19, 2021
Ted Cruz started the week as an ally to domestic terrorists and somehow ended it as an even worse person.
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) February 20, 2021
The White House declined to comment, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Ken Thomas. Press secretary Jen Psaki reportedly said the administration is “not spending any time, energy or breath analyzing Sen. Cruz’s whereabouts or his group chat,” a reference to leaked text messages of his wife’s relating to the trip:
.@PressSec aboard Air Force One: “I can assure you that with millions of people in Texas still suffering, we’re not spending any time, energy or breath analyzing Sen. Cruz’s whereabouts or his group chat."
— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) February 19, 2021
Mainstream media also churned out their share of headlines critical of Cruz for the trip, and many took the opportunity to contrast it with Ocasio-Cortez’s successful fundraising for the state and the visit she planned to “highlight what’s happening on the ground,” as well as the efforts of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) — whom Cruz defeated in the 2018 Senate election — as O’Rourke raved about his virtual phone banking operation for seniors in the state:
AOC raises $2 million for Texans, visiting Houston as Ted Cruz embroiled in furor over Cancun trip https://t.co/bqbgSy1viQ
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) February 19, 2021
While Sen. Ted Cruz was dealing with the fallout from his trip to Cancun, two of his Democratic political nemeses — Beto O'Rourke and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — raised money and offered resources to Texans hit hard by this week's winter storm https://t.co/aaMnVIFsjg
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 19, 2021
Ted Cruz wants people to know it wasn't his idea to fly to Cancun amidst a Texas state of emergency, it was his tween-age daughters' idea https://t.co/zzBVnVLfK0
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) February 18, 2021
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) February 19, 2021
Usually, it takes at least one full day in Cancun to do something embarrassing you’ll never live down. But for Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), it took just 10 hours…
— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) February 19, 2021
— Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@MollyJongFast) February 19, 2021
The Strange Saga of Ted Cruz’s Marie Antoinette–Style Cancún Vacation https://t.co/NpQmAHt0Xt
— Jennifer 'pro-reality' Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) February 19, 2021
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) February 19, 2021
“Ted Cruz sees his job as basically being a guy who records a podcast, goes on Fox News, and tweets snarky jokes. And increasingly, that's what being a conservative politician is. It's a form of performative trolling,” says Chris Hayes. https://t.co/sNW2KJMkTn
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) February 20, 2021
Several came to Cruz’s defense, and many compared the media coverage he had received with the coverage New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has received over his controversial handling of nursing homes in his state when coronavirus cases began surging last year:
The hypocrisy of those trying to cancel Ted Cruz who have been totally silent on their Democrat Governor’s incompetence is telling. My thoughts on the Cancún Cruz fauxoutrage! #Cruz #CancunGate is fake. https://t.co/WnYe1onpIK
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 18, 2021
CNN and MSNBC’s primetime hosts spent a combined 46 minutes on Ted Cruz’s Cancun trip… and less than 3 minutes on Cuomo’s growing nursing home scandal.https://t.co/x53a5HVvcC
— Joseph A. Wulfsohn (@JosephWulfsohn) February 19, 2021
A tale of the breathless coverage of the trivial vs. an actual scandal many people hope just goes away. https://t.co/4XZXtS8vm5
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) February 19, 2021
Senator Cruz fumbled, returned home from Cancun within a day, apologized yet media keeps it cycled.
Governor Cuomo gets an Emmy, book deal, little scrutiny for a year (until now), hasn't apologized nor been held accountable for his nursing home order.
Do better, journalists.
— Gabriella Hoffman (@Gabby_Hoffman) February 19, 2021
More outrage and forensic sleuthing about Ted Cruz flying to Cancun than there ever was about Andrew Cuomo consigning thousands to death.
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) February 19, 2021
Disappointed WaPo has run only 25 stories about Ted Cruz going to Cancun https://t.co/EJTvu8vqUC
— Kyle Smith (@rkylesmith) February 19, 2021
Fox News is airing Gov. Cuomo's briefing live.
CNN is talking about Ted Cruz trip to Cancun.
— Debra J. Saunders (@debrajsaunders) February 19, 2021
According to Politico, this week's Andrew Cuomo news cycle isn't as scandalous as Ted Cruz going to Cancun. https://t.co/UwjBegrSi5
— Larry O'Connor (@LarryOConnor) February 19, 2021
A Cuomo aide recently admitted that the state’s administration had suppressed data about the number of coronavirus-related deaths that had occurred in nursing homes out of fear of criticism.
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