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The New York Times

Ted Cruz’s Cancun Trip: Family Texts Describe His Political Mistake

Like millions of his constituents across Texas, Senator Ted Cruz had a cold home with no power this week amid the state’s power crisis. But unlike most of the others, Cruz got out, fled Houston and flew with his family to Cancun on Wednesday afternoon for a break at a luxury resort. Photos of Cruz and his wife Heidi boarding the flight quickly ricocheted across social media, leaving both his political allies and rivals on a tropical trip in horror when disaster struck home. The setback only intensified after Cruz, a Republican, released a statement saying he had flown to Mexico to “be a good father” and accompany his daughters and their friends. He noticed he was flying back on Thursday afternoon but did not disclose how long he originally intended to stay. Text messages Heidi Cruz sent to friends and neighbors in Houston on Wednesday revealed a hastily planned trip. Her house was “ice cold”, as Heidi Cruz put it – and she suggested a short vacation until Sunday. Sign up for the New York Times’ The Morning newsletter. Heidi Cruz invited others to join them at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun, where they had stayed “many times”. This week’s room rate ($ 309 per night) and good security were mentioned. The text messages were made available to the New York Times and confirmed by a second person on the thread who refused to be identified due to the private nature of the texts. Ted Cruz’s office declined to comment on his whereabouts for more than 12 hours after the first airport departure photos surfaced. Houston police confirmed the Senator’s office requested assistance with his airport trip on Wednesday, and finally Cruz was seen driving his suitcase in Mexico on Thursday as he returned to the state he represents in the Senate. By the time the Cruzes were gone, millions of Texans were still without electricity, many had no running water, and the icy air that poured into the state was so strong that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been activated to handle supplies, including generators, to send. Some searched the neighborhood for discarded fallen trees to burn for warmth. “What is happening in Texas is unacceptable,” Ted Cruz told a television crew at Cancun Airport. He wore a mask flying the state of Texas flag and a short-sleeved polo shirt in his jeans. The temperature in Cancun was over 26.6 degrees Celsius on Thursday and in Houston in the 30s. Upon returning to the US, Cruz offered a new statement in a different tone than when he tried to explain the vacation without regrets, leaving the impression that it could always have been a one-day trip for him. Speaking to reporters after arriving home, he admitted the trip was “obviously a mistake” and said he had “concerns” once he got on the plane to Mexico a few days away to work in the sun. “The plan was to stay with the family for the weekend,” he said, phrasing the decision as an attempt by one parent to calm his two daughters, ages 10 and 12, after a “tough week.” “On the one hand, we all parents have a responsibility to take care of our children and our families,” said Cruz. “But I also have a responsibility that I take very seriously when fighting for the state of Texas.” “As the firestorm got bigger and bigger, it became all the more imperative that I had to come back,” he added. Cruz’s critics were quick to spread hashtags mocking his trip: #FlyinTed, a piece about former President Donald Trump’s derisive nickname for Cruz during the 2016 main race, and #FledCruz among them. Some democratic groups tried to raise funds from the episode, and the state Democratic Party renewed its calls for Cruz to resign. “It’s about as persistent as any politician can get,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. Hinojosa said he was shocked but not surprised by Cruz’s international excursion: “He’s a politician who really has never cared about anyone but himself.” Untimely vacations and opulent pollution have long embroiled politicians in scandals and PR problems: the international trips arranged for members of Congress by the disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff in the early 2000s; Chris Christie, then governor of New Jersey, sat on a state beach in 2017 after ordering such beaches to be closed due to a government shutdown. and more recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom, who dined without a mask at high-end French Laundry during the pandemic last year. Ted Cruz’s decision to leave his state in the midst of an emergency was particularly confusing to an ambitious politician who has run for president and is widely recognized as a desire to run again in 2024 or beyond. “It was clearly a mistake in the assessment,” said Ray Sullivan, an Austin-based Republican strategist who served as chief of staff for former Governor Rick Perry. While a senator cannot personally restore the power grid, Sullivan said, “People expect their elected officials to be fully engaged during a crisis.” 50-year-old Cruz narrowly won re-election in 2018 against Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic congressman who received less than 51% of the vote. In that race, Cruz had aggressively highlighted his efforts during a past emergency, Hurricane Harvey. He cannot be re-elected until 2024. As the icy weather struck the city of Houston on Wednesday, a Cruz official contacted Houston Police Department staff at George Bush Intercontinental Airport prior to his flight and asked for “arrival assistance” from Jodi Silva, a department spokeswoman. Silva said the police “monitored his movements” before he left. Officers were seen accompanying him on his return Thursday. Cruz insisted in his statement on Thursday that he and his staff were “in constant communication” with state and local leaders during his brief trip to Cancun. “This has been an angry week for Texans,” he said. In his statement, Cruz noted that the private school his daughters attend in Houston was closed this week. But some other parents at the school were outraged when they heard about his international trip because of the pandemic and school policies that have discouraged such trips abroad. Two parents provided a copy of the school’s written policy so that students could not return to classrooms for seven days after international travel or take a COVID test three to five days after their return, which would leave the Cruz kids for the following week from would keep out of school. (Separately, an aide from Cruz said he did a virus test before his return flight Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is demanding a negative result.) When Heidi Cruz wrote to the neighbors group text string trying the extreme ones Conditions to endure Early Wednesday, she said the family stayed with friends to keep warm but quickly focused on offering an invitation to escape. “Can or will anyone go for the week?” She wrote. “We can go to Cancun.” She teased a “direct flight” and “hotels with capacity”. Seriously. “Heidi Cruz promptly shared details for a Wednesday afternoon departure, a Sunday return trip, and a luxury stay at the Ritz-Carlton by the sea in the meantime. Nobody seemed to bite, but Heidi Cruz expanded a more practical offer Gas stove so we can at least heat a little water so that we’re happy to help anyone we can, “she wrote. The Times shared the contents of the news with Ted Cruz’s Senate office, but his aides did not comment. Heidi Cruz Didn’t return a call for comment. Ted Cruz has long been self-promotional members of both parties since arriving on Capitol Hill in 2013. Later that year he became the lead actor in the drama that closed the Government enforced because of the Affordable Care Act, and in 2016 Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., joked during a speech, “If you put Ted Cruz on the floor If the Senate would kill you and the Senate trial would take place, no one would condemn you. ”But if Cruz angered his colleagues, he was just as quick to win the GOP Tea Party wing. He ran as the party’s anti-establishment champion in the party’s 2016 presidential primary and finished second at Trump, honoring his peers’ contempt as a badge of honor. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, a Democrat who represents Cruz’s Houston neighborhood in Congress, said Thursday that the state was facing an “all-hands-on-deck situation” and that its leaders were needed to see the response from To organize federal on site. Fletcher was out of service herself until Wednesday, charging her phone in her car to continue calling the House spokesman, FEMA and other agencies – too busy to ponder Cruz’s decision to leave the state at that time. “Leadership is important,” she said. Cruz had been very aware of the potential crisis in advance. In a radio interview on Monday, he said the state could record up to 100 deaths this week. “So don’t risk it,” he said. “Protect your family and just stay home and hug your kids.” Cruz had attacked a Democrat, Austin Mayor Stephen Adler, in December for traveling to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, while telling voters to “stay home” during the pandemic. “Hypocrites,” wrote Cruz on Twitter. “Complete and utter hypocrites.” This article originally appeared in the New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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