Sen. Ted Cruz confirms he flew to Mexico as Texas grapples with power outages caused
“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” Cruz said.
Photos that rapidly circulated on social media overnight showed what looked to be the senator at an airport and on an airplane. In some photos, a gray face mask was visible that appeared to be similar to one that Cruz was wearing at President Biden’s inauguration.
A Reuters photo Thursday showed Cruz wearing a Texas-themed face mask and wheeling a black carry-on case as he walked through Cancun International Airport for his flight back to Houston.
The trip triggered calls for Cruz’s resignation as well as a cascade of questions about why the senator decided to leave Texas while millions of his constituents are suffering during the storms and at a time when public health authorities have cautioned against international travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In Texas, more than 3 million customers were still in the dark Wednesday afternoon, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks outages nationwide. As of Thursday morning, that figure was about 500,000. Millions were advised to boil water as the frigid temperatures caused pipes to freeze.
Separately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates the risk of covid-19 in Mexico at level 4 — the agency’s highest level of warning — and says on its website: “Travelers should avoid all travel to Mexico.”
It was not immediately clear whether Cruz, mentioned as a possible 2024 presidential candidate, cut short his trip amid the furor. Cruz also did not reveal whether he was tested for covid-19, either before the trip or upon his arrival at the Cancun airport.
And while Cruz said in his statement that “our family lost heat and power” like millions of Texans, he told a radio host earlier this week that he had not lost power at his Houston home.
In his statement, Cruz said he and his staff were communicating with state and local leaders to “get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on and our homes warm.”
Cruz was first elected to the Senate in 2012 and narrowly beat former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D) to win reelection in 2018. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 and, after being among Donald Trump’s sharpest critics during the primaries, went on to become one of his staunchest defenders in Congress, helping to spearhead efforts to challenge Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
The Texas Democratic Party called on Cruz to resign over the incident. In a statement, party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said Cruz “is proving to be an enemy to our state by abandoning us in our greatest time of need.”
“Ted Cruz jetting off to Mexico while Texans remain dying in the cold isn’t surprising but it is deeply disturbing and disappointing,” Hinojosa said. “Cruz is emblematic of what the Texas Republican Party and its leaders have become: weak, corrupt, inept, and self-serving politicians who don’t give a damn about the people they were elected to represent.”
Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), whose district includes part of Dallas and its suburbs, also sharply criticized Cruz’s decision to “fly to Mexico for a vacation while the city that he lives in, Houston, they’re under a boil water notice, and so many folks are burning whatever they can to stay warm.”
“This is just beyond anything that you would expect – regardless of party – during a crisis like this,” Allred said in an interview on CNN Thursday afternoon. “You expect public officials to use whatever airtime they have to tell the truth, to give folks information they need to survive and to help with the recovery.”
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