Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke to reporters Thursday amid the public relations fallout from his recent family trip to Cancun, Mexico, which he took while many of his constituents in Texas are suffering from harrowing weather and widespread power blackouts.
Cruz was met with criticism when he was photographed Wednesday on a plane heading from Houston to Cancun for vacation while more than 3 million Texans remained without power after a catastrophic power grid failure following Winter Storm Uri.
After catching a flight back to Houston on Thursday, Cruz addressed the backlash with reporters outside his home. “We left yesterday, the plan had been to stay through the weekend with the family,” he said, referencing how the last week “has been tough on a lot of folks” and recounting how his family had been reduced to clustering around the fireplace after they lost power.
When his daughters found out that school had been canceled for the week, Cruz explained, they suggested taking a vacation. “They said, ‘Look, why don’t we take a trip? Let’s go somewhere where it’s not so cold.'”
Cruz admitted, however, that his doubts about taking a vacation began immediately. “I have to admit, I started having second thoughts almost the moment I sat down on the plane,” he said. “Because, on the one hand, all of us who are parents have a responsibility to take care of our kids, take care of our family. That’s something Texans have been doing across the state.”
Following the “firestorm” that erupted after the story emerged, Cruz said his initial doubts worsened. “When I arrived and I saw the initial firestorm, what had started with second thoughts that I had as soon as we left grew even greater,” he said, adding that he regrets that his trip has become “such a distraction when so many Texans are hurting and angry and mad.”
With protesters in the background chanting “resign,” Cruz addressed whether his trip was “tone-deaf.” “Look, it was obviously a mistake, and in hindsight I wouldn’t have done it,” he said, adding, “I was trying to be a dad.”
While Cruz made clear he regretted the decision, he also maintained that it was unfortunate that his critics were interpreting his trip as negatively as they have.
Cruz: "When I arrived and saw the initial firestorm, what had started as second thoughts that I had as soon as we left grew even greater."
"I certainly regret this has become a distraction," he says, comparing it to "every Texan across the state… taking care of your family." pic.twitter.com/Oq2R2vsNyR
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) February 19, 2021
Sen. Ted Cruz, back in Texas, says it was "obviously a mistake" to go to Cancun.
You can hear protestors chanting "Resign!" in the background. pic.twitter.com/FwA6Dsg4fv
— The Recount (@therecount) February 19, 2021
Doug Heye, a Republican consultant who used to be the communications director for the Republican National Committee, told The Washington Post: “Texas Democrats are going to go after him aggressively on this. And if he runs for president, certainly other Republicans are going to draw that dichotomy with Cruz and say, ‘[Look at] what I did for my constituents in a time of need.’”
Related: Bette Midler Implies Texas Winter Storms Are Divine ‘Payback’ Against Cruz And Cornyn