'Don't let him back in': backlash as Cruz caught leaving Texas for Mexico
“Complete and utter hyprocites,” tweeted Senator Ted Cruz back in December, when Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, was caught directing residents to stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus while at his holiday home in Cabo, Mexico. But Cruz is now eating a slice of humble pie – after being caught hopping on a flight to Mexico just days after telling Texans to stay home during a storm that has left millions of Texans without heating, hot water or power.
Cruz was pictured on a flight to Cancun while millions in his state are without power, and adults and children have died while trying to keep warm.
In a battle of blame-shifting, politicians across the country have blamed everything – from being weak to “socialism” – for the storm’s effects. Governor Greg Abbott went on Fox News on Tuesday to point the finger at renewable energy for the storm, though the Texas grid is overwhelmingly run on gas and oil.
Previous tweets by Cruz also resurfaced this week – of the senator mocking California during its own extreme weather event during the wildfires last year, claiming it was “unable to perform even basic functions of civilization like having reliable electricity”. When reminded of this comment, he simply tweeted: “I got no defense. A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good.”
Ted Cruz says he just flew to Cancun to provide moral support for his family, and never planned to stay there, despite the fact he was carrying two large containers of luggage.
Some defended Cruz’s trip today, saying there was nothing the senator could personally do to fix the failed grid. Others lambasted him, noting that hundreds of local charities, food pantries and mutual aid groups have sprung up to support Texans at this time – while the senator went on holiday.
Cruz also drew the ire from Beto O’Rourke, who has spent the last few days connecting residents to local resources and calling thousands of seniors to make sure they are warm. “[Cruz] is vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent and serve,” the former congressman and presidential hopeful said on MSNBC Thursday.
It seems that Cruz plans to head back to Texas on Thursday afternoon, although by the looks of it, not everyone wants him back. Calls for the senator to resign, as well as to be blocked from re-entering the country, have abounded on social media. “Mexico can keep him!” the activist Amy Siskind joked.
A recent Morning Consult poll found Cruz’s approval rating among Texas Republicans dipped from 81 percent to 76 percent following the siege on the Capitol. Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) led the effort to challenge the Electoral College vote count, which was interrupted by a pro-Trump mob.
While Cruz’s approval rating is higher than Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas), Cornyn coasted to reelection in 2020. By contrast, Cruz only barely defeated former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in 2018 by 2.6 point in a state that has not elected a Democrat to statewide office in more than 20 years.
George Seay, a Dallas-based GOP donor and conservative political leader, said Cruz “doesn’t have the same strength in Texas as he used to.”
That could come back to haunt Cruz in 2024, whether he’s running for the Senate or the White House.
“He’s made an uncanny number of miscalculations recently that seem to be based on his desire for political advancement,” Seay said.
“His choices surrounding Jan. 6 were a politically expedient effort to reach out to the Trump legions and it exploded in his face. And what about doing the right thing and being on the ground here to help people in dire straits because you’re a public servant?" Seay added. "If he tries to run for Senate again in 2024, I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls a primary challenger and a robust challenger in the general election.”
Seay and other Republicans were also eager to point out that Cruz is not responsible for the crisis, which falls on state leaders and a power grid that is not weatherized to deal with rare winter storm events and isolated from larger power grids.
They also say there are plenty of allegations of hypocrisy to go around. Austin’s Democratic mayor Steve Adler, for instance, became embroiled in controversy for urging people to stay home because of COVID-19 in a video he recorded from Cabo.
But Cruz’s blunder was magnified by his past remarks hammering Adler as a hypocrite and criticizing blue states, such as California, for their infrastructure problems.
In one recent tweet, Cruz said he had “no defense” for criticizing California’s energy policies now that Texas’s electric grid has failed in such spectacular fashion.
After hours of silence Thursday as the controversy exploded around him, Cruz finally released a statement confirming that he had gone to Cancun with his wife and daughters for a vacation after school was canceled for the week and they were left without power at their Houston-area home.
Cruz flew out Wednesday and returned Thursday, though it was unclear whether he had intended to stay longer and only came back because of the fallout.
“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe.”
The trip came at a perilous moment for many Texans, millions of whom have been without power or water for days, suffering through single-digit temperatures and the worsening power and water crises. Many grocery stores are closed and those that are open have long lines.
At the same time, there is very little information coming from state leaders about when those services will be restored.
Dozens of deaths have been attributed to the unusually strong winter storm that has lashed the state, freezing electrical grid equipment in a state otherwise known for its abundance of energy resources.
Texas Democrats called on Cruz to resign and to be expelled by the Senate, saying his efforts to question the Electoral College vote and his foreign trip during a crisis demands accountability.
“The Texas Democratic Party calls on Ted Cruz to resign or be expelled from office,” said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa. “Barring that, we will put all of the resources we have into defeating him and every Texas Republican who abandoned us in this disaster, including Governor [Greg] Abbott and Lieutenant Governor [Dan] Patrick, in 2022 and 2024. We are in a battle for the soul of our state. We must restore ethics, competence, and a government that works for the people.”
The episode drove headlines across the country and national Democrats piled on.
"I don’t have any updates on the exact location of Sen. Ted Cruz, nor does anyone at the White House,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
The theme of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference is “America Uncanceled.” But this week, just days before CPAC was set to kick off in Orlando, Florida, conference organizers announced they’d had to cancel one of their own scheduled speakers. “We have just learned that someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have no home with our conference or our organization,” CPAC organizers tweeted Monday, referring to right-wing social media figure Young Pharaoh.
At least eight 2024 hopefuls will speak at CPAC, the conservative movement’s premier conference this weekend in Florida, giving Republicans their clearest look yet at who’s competing in the traditional GOP presidential lanes. But there’s only one lane that really matters: the one currently occupied by former President Donald Trump.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) on Tuesday said that his wife, Heidi Cruz, was “pretty pissed,” over group text messages leaked to The New York Times last week that showed she invited friends and neighbors to join their trip to Mexico as their home state was battered by an extreme winter storm.
A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday blocked President Joe Biden’s 100-day moratorium on most deportations, the latest blow to Biden on one of his signature campaign promises. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton, in a late-night ruling, granted a preliminary injunction that blocks the moratorium the Biden administration announced on its first day. It’s a victory for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the 100-day pause, which was announced in a memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security three days into the Biden administration.