Millions of Texas residents were shivering in the dark while their Republican senator, Ted Cruz, was flying off to Cancun this week, during an ill-timed vacation he took amid a historic snowstorm in his home state.
Sources initially confirmed to The Associated Press, Fox News and the New York Times that Cruz flew to Mexico Wednesday for a family vacation, even as his constituents cried out for government help amid the storm and sweeping blackouts in Texas.
Cruz’s office eventually confirmed the trip in a statement on Thursday afternoon, after photos emerged of the senator boarding a flight from Houston to Cancun on Wednesday.
“Like millions of Texans, our family lost heat and power too,” Cruz said in the statement, which emerged while he was still in sunny Cancun.
Cruz claims he flew to Mexico with his family at the request of his girls, who had asked him for the trip because school was cancelled.
“Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” he said. He added that he’s been in “constant” contact with officials back home to keep track of the crisis.
Unlike Cruz, millions of Texans have been stranded without heat or power in their homes due to a winter storm that has overtaxed the state’s power grid.
More than a dozen deaths have been recorded during the crisis, and the U.S. federal government has dispatched emergency supplies to help.
“Every source of power that the state of Texas has, has been compromised,” Gov. Greg Abbott said.
Cruz tweeted about the crisis and the death of Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio pundit, on Wednesday. He did not mention his travel plans.
Critics quickly laid into Cruz on social media after news of his trip emerged, dredging up his old tweets or simply calling him names for taking a vacation during a disaster.
Others tried to make “Cancun Cruz” a thing.
Canadian Seth Rogen, who has frequently feuded with Cruz on Twitter, ripped him in an expletive-filled tweet on Thursday morning, just as the news was emerging.
Rogen suggested that Cruz is “desperately trying to rebrand” from being the guy who “inspired a deadly insurrection” on Jan. 6 to a guy who “left my constituents to freeze to death so I could go to Cancun.”
“Luckily he can be both,” Rogen wrote. “He’s just that big a mother—er.”
Many Democratic lawmakers also piled on to attack Cruz.
“It must be easy not to believe in climate change if you can just leave millions of Texans suffering without power or water to sit on a beach in Cancun,” Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, tweeted.
Others resurfaced a tweet from early December in which Cruz attacked Democrats who did not follow their own COVID-19 guidelines, including a city mayor who had boarded a flight to Mexico.
“Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites,” he wrote.
Critics pointed out that Cruz seemed to relish power outages in California in 2019, because it gave him an opportunity to blame the crisis on Democrats.
“California is now unable to perform even the basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity,” he wrote at the time.
Cruz has not made the same remarks about his own state of Texas, which is run by Republicans.
Conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza also faced backlash on social media Thursday, after pitching an unusual justification for Cruz’s trip.
“What could @TedCruz do if he were here in Texas?” D’Souza tweeted. “If he’s in Cancun, that means he’s not using up valuable resources of energy, food and water that can now be used by someone else. This is probably the best thing he could do for the state right now.”
Cruz — and the alleged burden of his appetite — were due to return to Texas on Thursday afternoon.
—With files from Reuters and The Associated Press